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Top-ranked Tai pushes through to finals of badminton's Thailand Open

The Taiwanese player made a strong start, but Blichfeldt's strong defence caused her problems.

This handout from the Badminton Association of Thailand taken and released on January 16, 2021 shows Taiwan's Tai Tzu-ying hitting a shot against Denmark's Mia Blichfeldt during their women's singles semi-final match during the Thailand Open badminton tournament in Bangkok. Picture: AFP

BANGKOK - Top-ranked Tai Tzu-ying pushed through a challenging second set to clinch a 21-8, 23-21 victory against Denmark's Mia Blichfeldt and move into the finals of badminton's Thailand Open.

The Taiwanese player made a strong start, but Blichfeldt's strong defence caused her problems.

"In the second game, the speed of the shuttle was different down that end and I had to adapt to that," said Tai.

She said she would need to bring her A-game on Sunday when she faces Spain's Carolina Marin, a former world number one, in the final.
Earlier in the day, the Spaniard trounced South Korean teenager An Se-young 21-16, 21-16.

"I didn’t feel any negative situation for myself, and I think if I play like this, I’m so ready for tomorrow," she said

Meanwhile, seven-seeded Angus Long of Hong Kong started off slow against Taiwan's Chou Tien-chen, ranked second in the world in men's singles, but won in a 17-21, 21-18, 21-15 upset.

Chou said he "lost control" by the third set. "I made some easy mistakes and that made me lose the second game. I just didn't feel in control."

Ng will go up against Denmark's Viktor Axelsen on Sunday. The fourth seed beat Indonesia's Anthony Ginting 21-19, 13-21, 21-13.

The Thailand Open is the first of three consecutive tournaments in Bangkok culminating in the World Tour Finals from January 27.

Flown in a week before the start for quarantine and testing, the players are facing off in a bio-secure "bubble", with no spectators allowed.

The tournament has been overshadowed by the positive cases for Egyptian mixed doubles player Adham Hatem Elgamal, a German coach and a French staff member.

Elgamal, who had to drop out on the first day and was moved to a hospital, took to Instagram on Saturday to raise doubts about his initial test results.

He told AFP that since arriving at the hospital, subsequent tests had shown negative results.

"They made a mistake, and I am paying for this mistake because I missed the tournament, and I am ok with this but I want to go back to Egypt," Elgamal told AFP.

"Why am I not allowed to go back if I am OK and I tested negative?"

But doctor Piyaja Nagavajara insisted Elgamal had tested positive on the PCR test, which is the highest standard.

A subsequent antibody test indicated a "recent infection" and a chest x-ray led a team of doctors to conclude that a "viral infection went to his lungs".

"I think the problem is a miscommunication or maybe we don't have an effective translator," Piyaja told AFP.

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