COPENHAGEN: Chinese world number one Li Xuerui remained on course for a first world championship title after reaching the semi-finals of the women’s singles in Copenhagen yesterday while second seed Chen Long advanced to the last four of the men’s draw.
Top-ranked Li, runner-up at last year’s tournament, beat Indian seventh seed Saina Nehwal 21-15, 21-15 to move a step closer to adding to the Olympic crown she won at London 2012.
“The first set was pretty comfortable. In the second set some of my tactics weren’t well executed and that allowed Saina to get close, but I eventually adjusted and pulled (the victory) off,” said the 23-year-old, who will face Japan’s Minatsu Mitani for a shot at the title.
On Wednesday Nehwal had sparked a war of words by calling for the sport’s governing body, the Badminton World Federation (BWF), to reduce the number of entrants per country at international tournaments to curb China’s dominance.
Li, one of four initial Chinese representatives in the women’s draw, let her performance do the talking for the most part on Friday before the topic again resurfaced in Denmark.
“There are good players from many countries. Too many restrictions is not good for the sport. It would not be fair for the Chinese players who put in all the effort and training,” said Li.
P.V. Sindhu of India produced another gritty performance to outlast China’s second-ranked Wang Shixian 19-21, 21-19, 21-15 in an 85-minute marathon.
Sindhu, a bronze medallist a year ago, matched her performance from Guangzhou as she recovered from dropping the opening set before displaying remarkable composure and stamina to close out a hard-fought final game.
“I’m very happy. It was a really long match, very equal and then I took the lead,” said Sindhu, 19.
“I was trailing 16-12 in the second set and made a very good comeback. I played really well and I hope to go much further,” added the 11th seed, who played down concerns of fatigue having saved three match points the day before in a three-set win over South Korea’s Bae Yeon-ju.
“I didn’t feel I was tired, I just went all out.
“I keep improving every time. I have to be aggressive, that’s my style. Chinese players are strong, I just played my best and gave 100 percent.”
Earlier, 16th seed Mitani, who dumped out defending Ratchanok Intanon in the last 16, caused another upset as she rallied to edge South Korean fifth seed Sung Ji-hyun 9-21, 21-18, 22-20
Men’s second seed Chen Long scraped through a gruelling encounter with South Korea’s Son Wan-ho to keep China firmly in contention to win a seventh consecutive singles title.
After splitting the first two games Chen found himself in trouble in the decider but turned things around to prevail 21-14, 12-21, 21-17 and book a semi-final showdown with Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto.
“In the third game when I was 11-9 down I had to change things,” said Chen, whose last title came at January’s Korea Open.
“During that time it was dangerous. If I play the way I was I do think I can lose. But I told myself I can’t give up because maybe the condition of my opponent also changes.
“I was confident once I got it to 14-all though.”
Sugiarto was made to work extremely hard to see off 37th-ranked Dutchman Eric Pang as the fifth seed reached the last four for the first time courtesy of a 22-20, 21-19 win.