Monday, March 9, 2009

YONEX ALL ENGLAND – Wang victorious in Chinese Clean Sweep

Wang Yihan, the 22 year old Chinese world number 8 claimed her maiden All England title at only her second attempt after beating defending champion Tine Rasmussen in three sets 21-19 21-23 21-11. China completed an historic clean sweep as Cai and Fu delivered a fifth gold medal and leaves the world in no doubt that the Asian nation continue to be the benchmark in professional badminton

By Mark Phelan (Live) photo: (Live in Birmingham)

It was China’s day on day 6 of the All England Championships as they swept to an unprecedented clean sweep of all five titles at the most prestigious of all individual tournaments. After taking the mixed doubles, men’s singles and women’s doubles early in the final session, with a mixture of youth and experience lifted the women’s singles and men’s doubles to finish the All England whitewash.

Wang Yihan one of the more emotionally expressive Chinese players on court, defeated Tine Rasmussen in three sets as Rasmussen ran out of steam in the final set and had no answers to the Chinese onslaught.

In the first Rasmussen settled quickest and established an early lead at 9-5 but Wang Yihan stormed back to level at the mid game interval. It was then the Chinese players turn to take the advantage as she led 14-11 but just as Wang Yihan had done earlier in the set Tine bounced back to level 19-19. An unforced error from The Dane down the tramline handed the opening set to Wang Yihan and Rasmussen was once again faced with the unenviable task of making a comeback if she was to retain her title.

The second set was a game of ‘cat and mouse’ as both players returned shuttles that appeared to be clear winners to any mere mortal watching on. During the set there was never more than three points between the players as they fought out an intense battle of long energy sapping rallies throughout. Wang Yihan had match point at 21-10 but a chance of tactic from Rasmussen was to bare fruit as she appeared to purpously shorten the rallies and attacked at every opportunity not allowing her Chinese opponent time to set up a winner. Rasmussen won three straight points to take the set to the delight of the NIA crowd and force the game into a deciding rubber.

In the third it was clear that exploits of Rasmussen’s comeback in her semi final and the intensity of the previous set was taking its toll as she struggled to match the pace of her younger opponent. Wang Yihan took an instant lead that Rasmussen would never recover from and the Chinese youngster ran out a comfortable 21-11 winner in the third to claim the All England title.

The young Chinese player immediately went to celebrate with her coach and current Olympic Champion Zhang Ning and was obviously overcome with joy at her All England win. “That’s how I am. I express myself on court as I am a rather joyful person. I had beaten her twice before but this time feels especially good as it’s only my second time playing here and I had lost to my compatriot Lu Lan then. I believe that I’ve played some of my best badminton this week and I’m thrilled,”

Tine however was visibly frustrated“I wasn’t even sure of making the semi-finals coming here and I was actually very close to losing at that stage so I shouldn’t complain. Of course I am disappointed but I took my chances and I believe we played well. I won my points but I also made to many errors and she scored on those errors. I was very tired today and it showed it think in some of the errors I made.” said Tine, who confirmed she would skip the Wilson Swiss Open to rest and prepare for the Sudirman Cup.

In the final game on court there was further joy for China as their experienced men’s doubles pair of Cai and Fu completed the clean sweep for China as they comfortably beat newly created Korean pair Han Sang Hoon and Hwang Ji Man in two straight sets 21-17 21-15.
After the game head coach Li Yongbo accompanied his experienced war horses to the press conference and was obviously all smiles as he spoke about his countries clean sweep of all five titles.

“We didn’t think of getting all medals and I wanted my shuttlers to focus on their own games and not worry about their compatriots nor the fact that we could make the clean sweep. This clean sweep was never in my mind however, I am very proud of my players today. It is a team spirit that won here,” said Li Yongbo