China's Li Xuerui (pic) will meet Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon for the first time since losing to her in the World Championships final last year, in the semi-final of the All-England women's singles on Saturday. - Filepic
BIRMINGHAM: The much-anticipated rematch between world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand and world No. 1 Li Xuerui is finally on.
Last August, Ratchanok stunned the badminton world by defeating Xuerui in the final of the World Championships in China.
Ratchanok, whose form has waned since the world meet high, managed to shrug off her inconsistencies to end the gallant run of unseeded Canadian Michelle Li in the All-England, winning 23-21, 21-16 to set up the clash with Xuerui in the semi-finals.
This will be the first time the 18-year-old Thai will be meeting Xuerui since the World Championships final.
“I’m feeling a bit more relaxed finally and it was probably the best I’ve played in a while,” said Ratchanok.
“Although I’m not at 100% yet, I’m definitely looking forward to facing Xuerui once more ... it’s been a while.
“I’ll try my best not to think about my win over her in the world meet. I’ll just focus on the semi-finals.”
Xuerui, who won the All-England in 2012, overpowered South Korea’s Sung Ji-hyun 21-17, 21-8 in what was her best performance of the week so far.
The 23-year-old Xuerui, who hails from Chongqing, believes that she is finally hitting top gear after being taken to three games in the first and second round matches.
“I definitely played a lot better compared to the first two days,” said Xuerui. “Perhaps staying on court longer has helped me with my performances, but it’s still physically demanding ... especially with the slow shuttlecock.
“I’m looking forward to facing Ratchanok ... I’ll definitely try my best.”
The other semi-final will be between second seed Wang Yihan and fourth seed Wang Shixian, both of China.
In women’s doubles, the versatile Ma Jin will lead a younger Tang Yuanting against the only non-Chinese pair left – Japan’s Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi – for a place in the final.