Shi Prevails in Thriller Against Naraoka

With his semifinal prospects fast receding, Shi Yu Qi needed something special in his final Group A match at the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2023.

And produce something special he did, as the world No.7, fading from the contest at 13-17 in the second game, lifted himself against the equally tenacious Kodai Naraoka, feeding off the crowd’s energy to win in three and pitch himself to the top of the group.

Meanwhile, Viktor Axelsen, also needing a win to secure his spot, had to fight from behind against Anthony Sinisuka Ginting. Having lost the opening game the Dane stormed back losing just seven points in the second game, and maintained his momentum to take second place in the group with his 16-21 21-7 21-13 victory.

Viktor Axelsen

“I feel really happy. It was a really intense battle,” said Axelsen. “I knew that I had to win. The pressure was huge. Having said that, Ginting also played a very good match. In the third game we showed what kind of players we are. It was a great game. Unfortunately there can’t be two winners but today with the level we both deserved to come out winners.”

In Group B, Anders Antonsen didn’t leave anything to chance with a 21-16 21-11 result over Kunlavut Vitidsarn, helping him top the group after Li Shi Feng had beaten Jonatan Christie in the last group encounter. Christie, though, qualified for the semifinals in second place on points difference over Li Shi Feng.

Carolina Marin

Among the memorable matches of the day was Carolina Marin’s thrilling 25-23 24-22 victory over Chen Yu Fei, her first win after five successive losses to the Olympic champion.

“Of course I feel really happy, it’s not about winning this match, it’s about how I felt on court,” said Marin. “I felt really good. I think I’m in good shape, especially in my mental part. This is what I want to prove. From the beginning of this tournament I’ve been really focussed on what I want to do. For my game, I want to keep improving and this is what I want to do.”

“It means a lot to play a semifinal here. I want to analyse my game today and I look forward to play any player tomorrow.

“I’m not in my best shape for this tournament, but I accept that before I came here, and this is how I’m right now, and this is what I look forward to, just try to keep going and give my best in every game.”

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