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Anders Antonsen leaves injury behind, qualifies for S’pore Badminton Open final

In the men’s doubles, Malaysia’s world champions and world No. 3 Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik will have to wait for their first World Tour title after they lost 16-21, 21-15, 21-17 to China’s fourth-ranked Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang.

Last week’s Thailand Open champions Liang and Wang will meet Japan’s Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayshi in the final, after the world No. 6s beat South Korea’s ninth-ranked Choi Sol-gyu and Kim 23-21, 21-14.

The women’s doubles and singles final will feature the top-ranked players. World No. 1s Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan beat their compatriots Li Wenmei and Liu Xuanxuan 21-18, 21-12 to earn a showdown against South Korea’s Baek Ha-na and Lee So-hee.

Korean starlet An Se-Young will look to keep up her terrific year after the world No. 2 beat Chinese Taipei’s third-ranked Tai Tzu-ying 21-16, 21-14 to make her eighth final this term. On Sunday, she will take on world No. 1 and world champion Akane Yamaguchi, who overcame China’s fourth-ranked Chen Yufei 21-10, 18-21, 21-16.

SINGAPORE – Gunning for his first final in the Badminton World Federation World Tour in 18 months, Anders Antonsen first had to endure a sensational meltdown in the Singapore Open, where he frittered away an 18-9 lead to lose the first game in his semi-final against Japan’s world No. 4 Kodai Naraoka.

Add to this the backdrop of a tumultuous year plagued by injuries, and the Danish world No. 22 would have been odds on to lose against Naraoka, a 2022 finalist.

But Antonsen summoned all his reserves to turn the tide and qualify for the final with a 19-21, 21-16, 21-17 win.

Throwing his racket on the ground, the 26-year-old ran to hug his coach Joachim Persson before ripping off his jersey. He will now face Indonesia’s world No. 2 and defending champion Anthony Ginting, who was leading his semi-final against Kunlavut Vitidsarn 19-21, 21-11, 6-1 when the third-ranked Thai retired with a right shoulder injury.

Antonsen said: “In the past year, I have had multiple injuries, different injuries, all the time. There was stuff I have never experienced before, and stuff on my body I never knew existed, learnt about and struggled with, to get strong physically and mentally to be comfortable on the court again.

“To be honest, I started to be so scared to just move around and play badminton because I’m so scared of getting injured and that’s mentally tough. So, I’m struggling with it every single day and trying my best to get stronger and believe in my body again and this is a step in the right direction.

“In today’s semi-final, I was still thinking about that first game even when I had the lead in the second game. I managed to do it somehow, but trying to let it go and move on was not easy.”

The former world No. 2 had previously struggled with a chest complaint, among other injuries. His ranking slipped to 30th as he could compete in only five World Tour tournaments.

Like world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen, Antonsen also left Badminton Denmark to become an independent player and train in Dubai, though separately from his compatriot.

Silver and bronze medalist at the 2019 and 2021 world championships respectively, the powerful 1.83m player has rediscovered some of his form with semi-final appearances at the All England Open and Spain Masters. He qualified for the final at the Singapore Indoor Stadium with wins over France’s Toma Popov, Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien-chen and Lee Chia-hao, and now Naraoka.

“This feels so good,” said Antonsen. “I was telling my coach now is the time to go into a final again. I didn’t come this far to stop here. Let’s go all the way.”

He will not be the only Dane hoping to do so on Sunday.

World No. 13 mixed doubles pair Mathias Christiansen and Alexandra Boje breezed past South Korea’s sixth-ranked Kim Won-ho and Jeong Na-eun 21-19, 21-9 for only their second Super 750 final. They will face Japan’s world No. 3 Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino, who defeated Malaysia’s 21st-ranked Chen Tang Jie and Toh Ee Wei 21-17, 24-22.