Part-time player Ben Beckman (pictured) gave Rajiv Ouseph the fright of his life tonight before the Commonwealth silver medallist reached the men’s singles final at the English National Badminton Championships for the seventh year in a row.
Beckman took the opening game of their semi-final and held match points at 20-19 and 21-20 in the second after recovering from 18-13 down before Ouseph performed his version of the great escape.
The Middlesex man finally came through 18-21 23-21 21-11 after a 51-minute battle and admitted it was the closest he had come to defeat since he became champion for the first time in 2008.
Beckman, whose mother Karen won the women’s singles and doubles titles in the 1980s, became the first player to take a game off Ouseph at any stage of the tournament since five-times runner-up Carl Baxter in the 2010 final.
Aamir Ghaffar took a game off him in the 2008 final when Ouseph won his first title.
Beckman said: “I’ve met him four or five times at the Nationals but this is the closest I’ve got to beating him. In fact, it’s the best I’ve played at the Nationals.
“He looked quite tense early on and he was not quite as accurate with his shots as he usually is.
“I had two match points but once he got ahead in the third he seemed to be more relaxed.
“Still, it will set me up for next week when I am with the England squad at the European Team Championships.”
Ouseph said: “In the first two games I didn’t play very well but Ben started quickly. At match point down I knew I just had to play each point but it’s the closest anyone has been to beating me at the Nationals.”
Tomorrow he will face a surprise final opponent in Coventry’s Sam Parsons.
The 18-year-old fourth seed from Coventry, who reached the quarter-finals in his first Nationals last year, came from a game down to beat second seed Toby Penty 18-21 21-13 24-22. It was his third three-game win in a row and the second time this weekend he has had to save match points in a contest.
Parsons won on his second match point after saving two in between then admitted: “I haven’t played Raj, I haven’t even hit with him in practice.”
Past and present
The women’s singles final will be a battle of the champions past and present.
Five-times winner and eighth seed Elizabeth Cann of Jersey defeated Coventry’s 2013 runner-up and second seed Fontaine Chapman 22-20 21-17 in the quarter-finals then overcame Dorset’s 2011 champion and fourth seed Nicola Cerfontyne 21-12 21-15. She has yet to drop a game this weekend.
In the final she will meet Chelmsford’s defending champion Sarah Walker, who came from behind to beat Sheffield 18-year-old Chloe Birch 18-21 21-9 21-18 in the quarter-finals.
Walker then came through 19-21 21-16 21-15 against Panuga Riou to leave the Hampshire player a beaten semi-finalist for the second year running.
In the doubles events Chris and Gabby Adcock, the 2012 winners are through to the final of the mixed to face defending champions Chris Langridge and Heather Olver.
The Adcocks defeated Peter Mills and former champion Jenny Wallwork 21-11 21-8 while Langridge and Olver went through when Gary Fox and Sophie Brown had to retire through injury to him when trailing 21-8 11-7.
Adcock and Andy Ellis, the 2012 men’s doubles winners, will face defending champions Langridge and Mills.
Adcock and Ellis defeated third seeds Chris Coles and Matthew Nottingham 21-17 21-19 while Langridge and Mills overcame fourth seeds Harley Towler and Peter Briggs 21-13 21-17.
Three of last year’s women’s doubles finalists will contest tomorrow’s final with defending champions Gabby Adcock and Lauren Smith taking on Heather Olver and Kate Robertshaw, who was injured last year.
Adcock is bidding for a fifth title in a row while Olver is aiming to avoid a fifth defeat.
The English National Championships are being staged at the arena:stadiummk by BADMINTON England in conjunction with Yonex, the Official Sports Equipment Partners for the English National Championships series.
Tickets for the finals are available on the door (doors open 11am, Championships Show at 11:30am, finals start at 12pm).
If you are unable to attend, you can still watch the finals thanks to BADMINTON England’s live streaming with commentary by former English National Championship stars Anthony Clark and Nathan Robertson online at badmintonengland.co.uk/tv.
Men’s singles: (1) Rajiv Ouseph (Middx) v (4) Sam Parsons (Warwicks)
Women’s singles: (1) Sarah Walker (Essex) v (8) Elizabeth Cann (Jersey)
Men’s doubles: (1) Chris Adcock (Notts) & Andy Ellis (Yorks) v (2) Chris Langridge (Surrey) & Peter Mills (Notts)
Women’s doubles: (1) Gabby Adcock (Yorks) & Lauren Smith (Cumbria) v (2) Heather Olver (Sussex) & Kate Robertshaw (Yorks)
Mixed doubles: (1) Chris & Gabby Adcock v (2) Chris Langridge & Heather Olver.