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(Photo: Badminton Photo)
Semifinals are set!
Date: 1/29/2021 4:35 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
After the pivotal final group matches were played today at the BWF World Tour Finals, we now know the final four in each category. Would you have predicted this lineup? 

European players are still in with a chance of the ultimate prize in four out of the five categories. A welcome surprise package these few weeks in Thailand has been English pair, Ben Lane/ Sean Vendy. In their opener, they recorded a statement victory over England’s experienced number one pair of Marcus Ellis/ Chris Langridge. 

After a loss against world number two pair of Mohammad Ahsan/ Hendra Setiawan, today’s match against fourth seeds, Ong Yew Sin/ Teo Ee Yi was a must-win. The Malaysian pair were favourites, being 17 places higher in the rankings, however, Lane/ Vendy put together their most important performance of their career thus far, winning 21-15, 21-13. 

-It’s a great result for us. We started off the opening game a bit slow but then we found our rhythm. My emotions now are that I am knackered. It is such a slow hall out there, you have to keep working and it’s never short rallies. Everyone is attacking and defending so well, so it was a case of staying disciplined in that match, Lane thought. 

Despite being the underdogs, they looked at home at this level and had a confident aura on court. 

-We were enjoying ourselves for sure. It’s probably one of the biggest matches of our careers so far. Whoever won this match today would go through to the semifinals. We knew we might be the underdogs on paper, but we’ve been playing well throughout these last three weeks and we were confident going into this match, Vendy explained. 

The pair remained very level headed in the interview, but the underlying emotions of the result for them seeped through as Vendy tried to find words to sum up their feelings. 

-It’s hard for me to put into words how I’m feeling right now, we’ve never done this well in such a big tournament. We’ll give it our all as we do every time we step on court.

Tomorrow they face the double Thailand Open champions, Lee Yang/ Wang Chi-Lin. The last time they play was at the Barcelona Spain Masters, with Lee/ Wang taking the win, 22-20, 21-17.

Marin played a ‘training match’ against An
It was third time lucky in Thailand for Korea’s An Se Young against Carolina Marin. Although perhaps, according to Marin, it was indeed a little bit of luck as the Spaniard explains. 

-I did not want to force myself today in the game. We played three games, but I did not care if I lose in three games, because my performance was okay today. I just wanted to play this match like a training match, so I lost, but I do not care a lot. 

Carolina Marin, who was already qualified for the semifinal, and in the hunt for three titles in a row in Bangkok, had her sights firmly on the match tomorrow. She will play Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong whom she beat in the second round of week one in the Asian leg, 21-8, 21-12. 

Russia’s Evgeniya Kosetskaya, who was the first singles player from her country to feature at the World Tour Finals, scored a win today over Michelle Li. The opening game was a real battle, with the grit and determination of Kosetskaya prevailing 25-23. 

The second game however really ran away from Li who was clearly exhausted and had nothing left in the tank. Kosetskaya won 21-10 to secure a historic first for Russia. 

Four Europeans in semifinal
France’s Thom Gicquel/ Delphine Delrue already knew they were in the final four mixed doubles pairs, but put on a clinic against German’s Mark Lamsfuss/ Isabel Herttrich, winning in just 32 minutes, 21-10, 21-15. 

They will now have the big challenge of an attempt to defeat Dechapol Puavaranukroh/ Sapsiree Taerattanachai, who eyeing up the treble at home.
 
Both Danes, Viktor Axelsen and Anders Antonsen make up half of the men’s singles quartet. However, they have had very different routes to this stage. While Axelsen had a straight game run, spending just 107 minutes on court, Antonsen has spent almost a whole hour more battling for his pass to the semifinals. 

It will be a Denmark vs Chinese Taipei clash as both will play their opponents from today in the semifinal. Axelsen facing Chou Tien Chen, whom he beat handsomely and Antonsen faces Wang Tzu Wei, who defeated him 21-11, 21-19. 

For the full list of results and fixtures, click here

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