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Badminton: Lin Dan's history bid shattered by Bao

BIRMINGHAM, England - Lin Dan, the World and Olympic champion, had his bid to achieve an open era record of five All-England titles shattered by his sixth-seeded compatriot Bao Chunlei on Friday.

Lin, who had previously appeared a class above the field and seemed odds-on to reach the semi-finals when leading 10-4 in the final game, slipped unaccountably to a 21-16, 17-21, 21-17 defeat.

The greatest player of the modern era seemed unwilling to hit the shuttle down with any frequency and, allowed opportunities to attack himself, Bao, a former world silver medallist, showed how effective he can be.

"I didn't think I played that badly," said Lin. "I was quite good. But halfway through the the first game Bao started playing really well."

Despite that Lin kept his nose in front all the way though the second game, and played such a exquisite point to reach game point, with two velvety half-pace smashes which opened up the court, that he seemed to have everything under control.

He was also moving better than Bao, gliding economically around and accelerating almost at will, that there were no hints of the demise which was to follow.

But Lin lost the next seven points to go 11-14 down, suddenly sinking into his shell and producing a passive sequence of rallies and slipping to 13-18.

He played a brilliant point to get to 15-18 but spent most of the remainder of the match lifting and clearing the shuttle, giving Bao time to find an opening with his clever left-handed angles.

"I have played Lin Dan many times and can't remember when I last beat him," said Bao.

"But I was well rested which I needed to be against him: I was able to play a faster game."

Bao now plays Kenichi Tago, the young Japanese player, who played at high speed and with great defence to beat Chen Jin, the third-seeded Chinese player who won the 2008 All-England, by 22-20, 19-21, 21-13.

The upset could conceivably help Peter Gade, the 33-year-old former world number one who has never relinquished his dream of winning another All-England title, and who won a thrilling repeat of the final he won in 1999.

Eleven years ago he beat Taufik Hidayat in three games when the scoring was 15-up.

On Friday, he won 20-22, 22-20, 22-20, coming back from 14-17 in the second game when it seemed that Hidayat's often impressive attack was going to prevail.

Gade next plays Lee Chong Wei, the top-seeded Malaysian, who beat Shon Wan Ho, the impressively durable Korean qualifier, 14-21, 21-14, 21-14.

Only one Chinese player, Bao, remains in the men's singles, and two, Wang Yihan, the top-seeded titleholder, and Wang Xin, the Malaysian Super Series champion, in the women's singles.

China's chances of winning all five titles took a bigger blow however when Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng, the world men's doubles champions, were beaten 21-17, 18-21, 21-18 by Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen, in a spectacular finish in which Cai was red-carded for hurling his racket on the next court and kicking his kitbag fiercely into the arena curtains.

Tine Rasmussen, the former All-England champion whose career has been threatened by injury, served notice of her desire to regain the title by saving three match points to beat Lu Lan, the world champion, 16-21, 23-21, 21-11, and reach the semi-finals of the women's singles.

The victory brought memories of the Dane's triumph over the Chinese player in the 2008 final, but it looked as though it might be over when Rasmussen went 18-20 down in the second game, having lost the first.

Rasmussen next plays Saina Nehwal, the seventh seeded Indian who won 21-8, 21-14 against Juliana Schenk of Germany.

Source from AFP

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