Dai sets it straight this time
Dai Yun, who earned sympathy for the sporting way in which she accepted defeat in the controversial finish to last year's world final, gained both a revenge and a place in the All-England final. The Chinese left-hander had beaten Camilla Martin in a one-point sudden death finish in Copenhagen when the scoreboard had caused uncertainty by showing a three-point setting - but now in Birmingham it was Dai who set the record straight. She overcame the world champion from Denmark 11-6,11-8 and her win, which earned her a meeting with Gong Zhichao, helped ensure that the All-England women's singles would go to China for the fourth successive year. But it was the reversal of the world final which was the more dramatic statistic, and from the outset there was rarely much doubt that it would happen. Dai made such a fast start that she was 10-2 up in a quarter of an hour, and was a constant danger with her disguised overhead drops and smashes, mixing well masked round-the-heads with fast slices. Although Martin dug in to recover from 1-5 to 7-7 in the second game, at which stage service changed sides fully nine times, it only served to delay the outcome and at the finish the world champion looked weary. "I was tired from my match the day before (against Gong Ruina). Dai started fast and seemed very eager to win and there was nothing I could do about it," said Martin, who will go home early with Peter Gade, her boyfriend. Gade, the top-seeded men's singles titleholder, suffered a similar fate the day before, being beaten by a Chinese player, Ji Xinpeng. Ji however did not make it the final. He was beaten in straight games by his 21-year-old compatriot Xia Xuanze, who will have to beat the remarkable Indonesian Taufik Hidayat if he is to ensure both singles titles for China. Hidayat created a sensation when he reached the final at the age of 17 last year. Now by winning in straight games against the world silver medallist Fung Permadi from Chinese Taipei he gave himself a chance of becoming the youngest All-England men's singles winner since his compatriot Rudy Hartono in the late sixties. "This will probably be the best chance I will have of winning a title like this," he said, referring to the exit of Gade and the absence of Sun Jun, the world champion sidelined through injury. Two players will oppose each other in two finals - those perennial rivals Ge Fei of China and Ra Kyung-Min of Korea, who face each other in the women's and the mixed doubles. Ge, regarded by some as the game's outstanding player, has a chance of repeating her achievement of three years ago when she became a double All-England champion. But she could be upstaged by Ra's mixed partner Kim Dong-Moon, who won two world titles ten months ago, and will again play two finals after he and Ha Tae-Kwon beat the top-seeded titleholders in the men's doubles, Tony Gunawan and Candra Wijaya. The penultimate day's results ensured all five titles will go to Asia. European players won two titles last time, and had had hopes of three at the start of the tournament this time, but will not be represented in any of the finals.