On the penultimate day of the BWF World Tour Super 750 Fuzhou China Open, the top-seed Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei had to, unfortunately, retire from her semi-final match against Nozomi Okuhara of Japan. In the other semi, local favourite, Chen Yu Fei went through an exciting and grueling encounter to defeat Michelle Li of Canada. Therefore, the women's singles division would witness a repeat of last year's final on Sunday.
It was a real pity that the match between Okuhara and Tai came to a premature end. In the two-and-a-half games that were played, it had been a riveting contest. The irrepressible wizardry of the Taiwanese player was up against the indefatigable retrieving of the Japanese lady.
The first game saw both players going toe-to-toe. But at the right time, Tai unleashed her brilliant shots to take a 1-0 lead in the match. The second game had Okuhara coming back strong and Tai going into one of those phases where she tends to commit a lot of errors.
The match was now set for a brilliant decider. Both players looked in good touch. The former World Champion rushed to an early lead but then the magical shots of the Asian Games champion brought her level. However, Okuhara again took the lead and at the mid-game interval the match was called off with Tai retiring. The score of the match, in the end, was 19-21, 21-12, 11-6 retired.
In the other semi-final of women's singles division, the winner of last week's Macau Open Michelle Li squared off against Chinese hope Chen Yu Fei. The All England Champion is making a comeback after twisting her ankle few weeks ago. She looked all set to regain her old form.
With her speed back and the ability to play good shots also there, Chen was expected to have a comparatively easy win. But Li was also in good form. The Canadian was matching her Chinese opponent's agility and shot-making. This led to her winning the first game despite being 13-18 down at one stage and having to survive a game point.
But, in the next two games, the tables turned completely. Michelle was able to compete well till the mid-game breaks of both the second and third games but then seemed to run out of fuel. She was committing a bucket-load of errors and looked unable to cope with the pressure being put by Yu Fei. Eventually, the match ended 20-22, 21-8, 21-17.
The final between Chen and Nozomi would be worth watching. Last year, it was her victory in this tournament that set Yu Fei on her path to success. Will she triumph again? Or will the Japanese girl stand tall? Well, we'll have to wait and see.