Home favourite and defending champion Kirsty Gilmour produced a stunning comeback to defeat top seed Cai Yanyan and reach the final of the Scottish Open Badminton Championships.
The Glasgow-based 25-year-old’s title defence appeared to be in danger of being derailed after she narrowly lost the opening game to the Chinese sensation at the Emirates Arena.
But with the home fans cheering her on after every point, she gradually chipped away at Cai to take the second game before running away with the third to complete a 19-21 21-18 21-11 win.
And with just one final hurdle to navigate to seal back-to-back Scottish Open titles, Gilmour admits it could go either way when she faces Denmark’s Line Højmark Kjaersfeldt in the final.
“I was making some poor decisions at the start of the second set and thankfully I didn’t let it get any further away from me or else I don’t think I would have been able to pull it back,” she said.
“My record with Line must be 50/50, so we’re going to have to see. I’m going to do some homework as she’s on very much a hot streak right now and playing some really great badminton.”
Second seed Kjaersfeldt was also pushed all the way to claim her place in the showpiece final before she came out on top 21-11 10-21 21-18 against Chinese fourth seed Chen Xiaoxin.
The Dane knows what it takes to win at the Emirates, having beaten Gilmour previously in the final back in 2015, but she knows she will have to be at her best to overcome her again.
“It was a tough match, it’s always a tough match against Chen and I’ve lost to her the last two times so I’m really happy that I won,” said Kjaersfeldt.
“My performance was a bit up and down but I won the match and I’m just really happy. She made me fight for every point and she always does, it’s always a tough match.”
Meanwhile, there will be an all-Chinese men’s singles final as Sun Feixiang will take on compatriot Lui Haichao after both players came through hard-fought, dramatic semi-finals.
Feixiang emerged triumphant from a thrilling hour-long contest against third seed Mark Caljouw of the Netherlands, eventually winning 21-14 17-21 21-19 to reach Sunday’s showpiece.
And he will be joined by Haichao after he defeated two-time former champion and fourth seed Rajiv Ouseph, coming from behind to secure a 13-21 21-8 21-19 victory.
Elsewhere, Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith booked their place in the mixed doubles final as the top seeds saw off fellow English pair Tom Wolfenden and Jenny Moore, winning 21-10 21-6.
“I think for most of it we played quite well and we felt quite good out there, which I think is important ahead of the final tomorrow,” said Ellis.
“Towards the end we let our concentration slip a little bit, so that’s our own doing, but I would say on the whole that we actually put in a good performance.
“The last month or so we’ve put in our best performances yet as a partnership so that’s something we have to take confidence from when we come to a tournament like this.”
Ellis and Smith will now face the third seeds from the Netherlands, Jacco Arends and Selena Piek, after they had a walkover against Mark Lamsfuss and Isabel Herttrich.
The German pair were forced to withdraw due to Lamsfuss being too unwell to play, which also meant he was unable to join Marvin Emil Seidel in the men’s doubles semi-final.
That meant Danish number eight seeds David Daugaard and Frederik Søgaard were also given a walkover and will now contest the final against Ellis and Chris Langridge.
The Commonwealth Games champions and number one seeds fought back to claim an epic 23-25 21-11 25-23 victory against Ben Lane and Sean Vendy in the all-English last four clash.
There was also success for the first seeds in the women’s doubles as European champions Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva defeated France’s Delphine Delrue and Lea Palermo.
The Bulgarian duo were in clinical form as they saw off the challenge of the fourth seeds with a 21-18 21-17 triumph to set up a repeat of the 2018 European Championships final.
They will face France’s Emilie Lefel and Anne Tran, silver medallists in Spain, after the third seeds dispatched the Dutch second seeds Selena Piek and Cheryl Seinen with a 21-17 21-15 win.
“It will be a tough match and we know the French pair pretty well,” said Stefani Stoeva. “We played them in the European Championships final and it will be difficult, but I think we can win it.”
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The Scottish Open Badminton Championships is being staged at the Emirates Arena by Badminton Scotland with support from Glasgow Life, Glasgow City Council and EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
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