World No. 1 Wang Shixian’s hopes of adding a title at the World Badminton Championships to the All-England title she captured five months ago ended colorfully in the quarter-finals at Wembley on Friday.
Wang was beaten 21-16, 21-17 by Taiwan’s Cheng Shao-chieh, a blonde-dyed, punk-cut player who sports a large tattoo of her name on one arm.
Seventh-seeded Cheng also had great energy and an attacking mentality, plus a victory in Jakarta in June against the world’s leading player — assets she used enthusiastically to her advantage.
Wang managed to get her nose in front for the first half of the second game and played steadily and patiently, but once her 10-9 lead had gone, she was swamped by an opponent applying constant pressure and playing without inhibitions.
Cheng’s only negative moment was when she took too long for the umpire’s liking while flicking sweat from her brow, and was shown a yellow card.
“I get bored every now and again and like to have a new look, so maybe people don’t know who I am and think I am a new player,” Cheng said about her appearance.
Cheng now plays another surprise semi-finalist, Juliane Schenk of Germany, who reversed the result of last year’s European final when she outplayed Tine Baun, the former All-England champion from Denmark, by 21-9, 21-11.
Baun, who has been struggling with injuries in recent months, looked below par, but Schenk was excellent, taking the attack to her opponent and denying her chances to impose the most powerful overhead in the women’s game.
“Tine was not really good, but I played tactically fantastic,” Schenk said. “Everything is possible now.”
The other semi-final is between two Chinese players — Wang Xin, the world runner-up in Paris, and Wang Yihan, the second-seeded former All-England champion.
Earlier the other world No. 1 singles player, Lee Chong Wei, ended one fairytale and continued his as he reached the men’s singles semi-finals. Lee’s 21-7, 21-13 win over Kevin Cordon kept him on course to become the first Malaysian ever to win a world badminton title, but finished the dream of the man from Central America.
Cordon was the first player from Guatemala ever to progress so far in a major tournament after three wins, including a giant-killing win over Chen Long, the fifth-seeded Chinese player.
However, although he managed to strike a few good blows and earned enthusiastic support from the Wembley crowd, he could not match a Lee who has been in the best form of his career.
“I think I have been on top form and it was good that I could win like this because a key to winning the world championships is keeping my energy,” Lee said.
Lee now has a semi-final with Chen Jin, the sixth-seeded defending world champion from China, who beat Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, the unseeded Dane, 21-17, 21-13.
He decided not watch Lin Dan, the three times former world champion from China who is his main rival, because “my way is always to focus on himself and what I have to do.”
Lin reached the semis with a 21-14, 21-16 revenge over Sho Sasaki, the 11th-seeded Japanese player who beat him at the Indonesian Super Series in Jakarta in June.
“When I played there I was not very well, but now I was better and very focused to do well,” Lin said.
Lin next plays Peter Gade, the former world No. 1 from Denmark who, at 34, is the oldest player in the event. Gade needed fully 1 hour, 23 minutes to get past Tien Minh Nguyen, the seventh seed from Vietnam, by 17-21, 21-19, 21-13