OLYMPICS/Taiwan's Lee, Wang advance to Olympic badminton finals

07/30/2021 11:08 PM
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Lee Yang (left) and Wang Chi-lin. Photo: AP
Lee Yang (left) and Wang Chi-lin. Photo: AP

Taipei, July 30 (CNA) Taiwanese badminton duo Lee Yang (李洋) and Wang Chi-lin (王齊麟) upset a world No. 2 Indonesian team in the semifinals of the men's doubles competition on Friday to secure Taiwan's first-ever spot in the sport's Olympic finals.

Lee and Wang, both first-time Olympians, defeated Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia in a surprisingly dominant 21-11, 21-10 sweep that was over in just 28 minutes.

The Taiwanese pair came into the match as underdogs with a career 4-6 record against the Indonesians, whom they compared to "boss characters" in a video game.

But they came out in top form, never falling more than three points behind, while the Indonesians seemed out of sorts, defending poorly and not moving as well as they normally do.

Both Lee and Wang admitted to being surprised by the result, telling reporters they had been too focused to notice the score while the match was in progress.

"Before the match we prepared for the worst, so we were a bit unsure of what to do when we realized we were going to win," they joked.

The pair will now go on to face third-seeded Liu Yu-chen (劉雨辰) and Li Jun-hui (李俊慧) of China in a gold medal match scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (Taiwan time) on Saturday.

In the women's singles event, Taiwan's Tai Tzu-ying (戴資潁) clinched a spot in the semifinals Friday after barely surviving a grueling 67-minute quarterfinal match against fifth-seeded Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand, 14-21, 21-18, 21-18.

The Thai often gives Tai trouble, having won 14 of their previous 29 matches, and after the second-seeded Tai jumped out to an early 7-3 lead in the first game, Ratchanok took over, showing brilliant touch at the net and frequently wrong-footing her opponent.

After winning the first game 21-14, Ratchanok went up 14-10 in the second game, and Tai, hurt by several unforced errors, seemed to have no answers on how to break through the Thai's flawless defending, looking frequently to her coach for help.

It was then, however, that Tai quickened the pace of rallies and forced a tiring Ratchanok to react faster, a strategy that helped her run off seven straight points to help clinch the game.

In the deciding frame, Tai grabbed an early 11-7 lead, before Intanon went on a 5-1 rally to tie the game at 12 and then go up 17-15.

With the match on the line, however, Tai scored six of the last seven points to win 21-18, gaining entry to the final four and keeping her medal hopes alive.

Tai will face P.V. Sindhu of India, the tournament's sixth-seed, on Saturday.

Sindhu defeated Tai in the round of 16 at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

(By Hsieh Ching-wen and Matthew Mazzetta)


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