LONDON - Shi Yuqi sent world No. 4 Lee Zii Jia crashing out of badminton’s All England Open semi-finals on Saturday to set up a title clash with fellow Chinese Li Shifeng.
Shi battled back from 14-11 down in the opening game to secure an ultimately comfortable victory, 21-19, 21-13, over Malaysia’s Lee, who had been struggling for form heading into the tournament.
“This week I learnt to believe in myself again,” said Lee. “I doubted myself a lot and whether I could come back again as a top player. I proved it here.”
Shi is aiming to win the title for the second time after his 2018 triumph.
Li reached his second World Tour final of the year by surviving a comeback from Denmark’s Anders Antonsen to win 21-11, 19-21, 21-18.
Li led 17-12 in the second game before Antonsen rallied to force a decider.
But the world No. 14 secured victory with three straight points from 18-18 to book his place in Sunday’s final.
In the women’s event, reigning champion and world No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi was shocked by China’s Chen Yufei.
The world champion slumped to a 21-17, 21-8 defeat in only 37 minutes as she appeared to struggle with a shoulder problem.
“I have no problem at all with my physical condition,” insisted the Japanese star. “She was more in control.”
Chen will take on South Korean world No. 2 An Se-young after a dramatic second semi-final against Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying.
An saved four match points in a thrilling deciding game to prevail 17-21, 21-19, 24-22.
“Being able to play in such a prestigious final at my age, it’s something I can’t express,” said the 21-year-old Korean. AFP