China's Shi dethroned by Axelsen at All England Open

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-10 05:44:05|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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BIRMINGHAM, Britain, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Defending champion Shi Yuqi of China was stopped by former world champion Viktor Axelsen from Denmark in the semifinals of the All England Open badminton championships here on Saturday.

The 23-year-old Shi was beaten by sixth-seeded Axelsen 22-20, 13-21, 21-7 after one hour and six minutes.

"I am already very happy after entering the last four," Shi said. "I had two tough matches against Liew Daren in the second round and Kanta Tsuneyama in the third. "

"I have been out of practice for some time so I was really tired in the third set," he said. "But I am happy to be back here and played some thrilling matches. I hope to play better in the upcoming Swiss Open."

Shi's exit means that there will be no Chinese player in the men's final for the first time since 2010 and only the second time since 1999.

Axelsen will fight for the title against top seed Kento Momota of Japan, who beat Ng Ka Long Angus of Hong Kong, China, 21-19, 21-11.

In the women's event, third seed Chen Yufei beat Japan's Nozomi Okuhara to become the first player from Team China in four years to enter the women's singles final.

The 20-year-old saw off tenacious challenge from the 2016 champion Okuhara in the first set but dominated the second for a 21-17, 21-11 vicotry. It was her first time to reach a final in a Superseries event.

"I am more confident against Okuhara than a year ago," Chen said. "I think I am a better player in defense. I don't think I have anything to worry about when I play Tai in the final tomorrow. I just want to play my best."

Chen is the first player from Team China in the women's singles final since Wang Shixian was beaten by Okuhara in 2016. She would also become the first champion from Team China in five years should she dethrone two-time defending champion Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei.

Wang Shixian was the last winner in 2014 when she lifted the trophy with a victory over teammate Li Xuerui.

Tai defeated Japan's Akane Yamaguchi in a rematch of last year's final earlier.

The 24-year-old took 47 minutes to beat the four-seeded Japanese 21-13, 10-21, 21-8.

If Tai successfully defends her crown, she will be the first female singles champion to do so since China's Xie Xingfang, the wife of six-time champion Lin Dan, 12 years ago.