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BADMINTON

Lee moves past Dane to reach third world final

A strong partisan crowd at Ballerup Super Arena wasn't enough for Viktor Axelsen to get past world number one Lee Chong Wei.

Lee moves past Dane to reach third world final
Denmark's Viktor Axelsen (L) competes against Malaysia's Chong Wei Lee during the men's single semi final match at the 2014 BWF Badminton World Championships in Copenhagen on Saturday. Photo: Jonathan
Malaysian world number one Lee Chong Wei secured a third straight men's singles finals appearance at the badminton world championships on Saturday while women's top seed Li Xuerui of China also advanced to the title match.
 
Top-ranked Lee, twice a runner-up at the tournament, brushed aside young Danish hopeful Viktor Axelsen 21-9, 21-7 in front of a partisan Copenhagen crowd to move within touching distance of a first major title.
 
Despite his advancing years Lee, who will turn 32 in October, demonstrated his enduring class with a sublime blend of blistering overheads and resolute defence to reel off 12 of the final 13 points in the first game. After that he never looked back.
 
The Malaysian star, also a two-time Olympic singles silver medallist, then pocketed 21 of 25 points after trailing 3-0 early in the second set to complete a comprehensive victory over the 14th seed.
 
"So far things have got better each match," said Lee, who will face Chinese second seed Chen Long in Sunday's final. "I can go back to resting now and prepare for [Sunday]. The country will be watching and there will be more pressure on my shoulders. I will try not to think about the pressure and give a big present to my country."
 
Meanwhile Chen, an Olympic bronze medallist two years ago, moved into his first world championship final after beating Indonesian fifth seed Tommy Sugiarto 21-16, 22-20 to keep alive China's hope of a seventh successive singles title.
 
Earlier Li ended the run of Japanese dynamo and 16th seed Minatsi Mitani to seal a return to the women's singles final.
 
World number one Li, runner-up a year ago on home soil in Guangzhou, dominated from the beginning with Mitani, sporting a heavily strapped right leg, unable to offer much resistance as Li powered to a 21-8, 21-14 victory.
 
No heroics
Mitani had claimed the scalp of defending champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in the last 16 before upsetting South Korean fifth seed Sung Ji-hyun in the quarters but there were no repeat heroics this time.
 
Backed by vocal support from the Chinese delegation Li made quick work of Mitani, likely feeling the effects of successive gruelling three-set matches, to move a step closer to adding to the Olympic crown she won at London 2012.
 
"Mitani is a very high-level player. We've played each other several times and she always fights to the last point," said Li of her battling opponent.
 
The 23-year-old will play Spain's Carolina Marin for a maiden title.
 
Ninth seed Marin, the reigning European champion, saw off Indian teenager P.V. Sindhu 21-17, 21-15 to become the first Spanish finalist in tournament history and will aim to become the first European world champion in women's singles since Denmark's Camilla Martin in 1999.

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MATCH-FIXING

Denmark makes racket over ‘match-fixing’ Chinese badminton players

The national association for badminton in Denmark says the sport’s world federation should punish Chinese players for a match at last week’s Fuzhou China Open which has been described as a “farce”.

Denmark makes racket over 'match-fixing' Chinese badminton players
China's Junhui Li, left, and Yuchen Liu, seen here during a different match, lost in the controversial quarter-final in Fuzhou. AP Photo/Aaron Favila/Ritzau Scanpix

Bo Jensen, director of Badminton Denmark, wants the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to take action after seeing footage of a quarter final match in which He Jiting and Ta Qiang defeated Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen in three sets.

“I am giving my support to the criticism. This is cheating, it’s match-fixing and we can’t accept it,” Jensen said to TV2 Sport.

“In our context, this is just as bad as doping, and it must be punished because if it is not, we will damage the sport’s reputation amongst fans and the many sponsors that are making huge investments at the moment,” he added.

Several Danish badminton players are reported to have been present during the match. Doubles pair Mads Pieler Kolding and Mads Conrad-Petersen lodged a complaint with tournament organisers following the match about the way it had been played.

Another player, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, later posted an update on Facebook in which he compared the match to a scandal during the 2012 Olympic Games in London, when eight players from China, South Korea and Indonesia were disqualified for deliberately trying to lose.

“This was a complete farce of a match which made me think of the London Olympics when 4 pairs deliberately tried to lose their matches. I kid you not, it was this bad,” Vittinghus wrote, citing errors in play that “just (don’t) happen at this level”.

“Difficult to get hard evidence, but if you have watched a bare minimum of world class badminton, you’d know what just happened,” he also wrote.

The BWF told TV2 Sport that it would not comment on the issue prior to receiving a report from the tournament’s organisers.

READ ALSO: Danish badminton star wins Chinese fans with Mandarin skills