Badminton: Shi, Li set up all-Chinese All England final

China's Shi Yuqi (left) consoles Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia after winning their All England Open semi-final on Saturday. PHOTO: REUTERS

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

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