Monday, March 9, 2009

High five for China - Richard Eaton



by Richard Eaton

China became the first nation ever to win all five titles in the open era at the All-England championships when Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng wrapped up the the men's doubles 21-17, 21-15 against Korea's Han Sang Hoon and Hwang Ji Man.

China had won all five in a world championship before, but that was in Beijing back in 1987, and this, in European conditions, was a far tougher task. It was also the first clean sweep in the open or amateur eras since 1948.

The success which really made it possible was that of Wang Yihan, the young unseeded player from Shanghai, who beat Tine Rasmussen, the top-seeded titleholder from Denmark who won the women's singles at only the second attempt, 21-19, 21-23, 21-11.

But the success which attracted the most attention was the repeat of the Olympic men's singles final, in which Lin Dan again beat Lee Chong Wei, the world number one from Malaysia, in straight games, though this was a closer match than the one at the Games.

The Chinese star beat the ambitious, hard-working Malaysian 21-19, 21-12, after beginning rather patchily, then grabbing his first important chance, and accelerating away impressively towards the end.

Asked how or why he won, Lin said: ”It wasn't tactical or anything – we are both good players. It was more psychological. I was focussed and calm. I think I played quite well. There were a couple of times in the first set where I didn't handle the situation the best I could and let him have an advantage. But I kept my form and managed to play well.”

Lin was also concerned to promote the right image of himself. “The fact that I have an outgoing personality might be seen as a bad thing, that I am a rebel. But I am anxious to show that I am quite a good person and for people to understand me better.”

However, for a while in the first game Lin faltered unexpectedly. From leads of 8-2, 10-6, and 16-12 he began to make errors, not all of them forced, allowing Lee to nudge his way up to 19-17.

Lee often lifted or pushed the shuttle to the backhand side of Lin, but with mixed success, and when it really mattered Lin sprang back to his best form again. A flat cross court was too difficult for Lee to contain, and the Malaysian put an overhead drop into the net to let Lin back in at 18-19, and thereafter the Chinese left-hander won three points quickly.

When he reached game point at 20-19, the rally was over in a flash, Lin serving accurately and following it up with a smash which got through immediately. That increased the pressure on the Olympic silver medallist, who had been only too aware he had lost eight of their nine previous meetings, and his expression and body language increasingly hinted at tension.

And from 14-12 Lin went through to the finish in one magnificent run of seven points. At the end, while shaking hands acorss the net, he pushed his face close to Lee's to show his comradeship, but when he really wanted to win Lin showed another side of himself – explosive, dynamic, and very professional.

Wang's win was victory for a good temperament, a good all-round game, and fresher, lighter movement. She was unable to convert a match point at 21-20 in the second game, which created a few alarms as Rasmussen had saved two against another Chinese player Jian Yanjiao the previous day.

But Rasmussen, whose preparation had been affected by a heel injury, only had the energy left to hang on, and against a player of the 21-year-old Wang's great potential, that was never likely to be enough.

“I didn't have any pressure,” said Wang, who had looked relaxed most of the time except the end of the second game. “I just really tried to play what I know – and it's nice to be able to do it that way.

“We both played well in the first two games, but in the third I think I was physically stronger and fitter.”

Asked if she thought about the title before the end of the match, Wang said no, but that she had imagined it before the match. “I did it secretly,” she said. “I imagined what I would do and what expression I would have! But when it came to the match I just focussed.”

Rasmussen said: "I started playing again - after a heel injury - only three days before the tournament, so I am very satisfied with reaching the final. Of course when you get there you always want more.

"I could feel it wasn't going in the right direction, even when I was winning, because the matches were going on too long. But before the tournament I would have guessed I would fallen over on the court.

"But I have to be pleased with what I did. I could easily have been out in the semi-finals," she added, referring to her saving two match points against Jian Yanjiao.

Earlier He Hanbin and Yu Yang had won the mixed doubles, and Zhang Yawen and Zhao Tingting the women's doubles.

Afterwards China's head coach, Li Yongbo, said: "We didn't think about winning all five titles. We mustn't think about outside factors, or we can't play the way we have."

Asked if China's controversial decision to skip the Super Series finals in Malaysia in December had been justified by this performance, Li answered, laughing: "Do you think we made the wrong choice?"

And asked if China would compete in the next Super Series event, Li replied: "It depends on each team and each circumstance. We have to look at what is best for each player. We didn't think the decision was controversial."
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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chinese clean sweep in All England finals

China claimed an historic clean sweep of all five All England titles at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham - the first time the feat has been achieved since Denmark in 1948 - on a day which saw Lin Dan claim his fourth singles title while unseeded Yihan Wang became women's champion at the first attempt.

FINALS RESULTS:
XD: [3] He & Yu (Chn) bt Ko & Ha (Kor) 13/21, 21/15, 21/9 (55m)
MS: [2] Lin Dan (Chn) bt [1] Chong Wei Lee (Mas) 21/19, 21/12 (43m)
WD: [7] Zhang & Zhao (Chn) bt Cheng & Zhao (Chn) 21/13, 21/15 (48m)
WS: Yihan Wang (Chn) bt [1] Tine Rasmussen (Den) 21/19, 21/23, 21/11
MD: [7] Cai & Fu (Chn) bt Han & Hwang (Kor) 21/19, 21/15

END OF THE ROAD FOR KOREAN QUALIFIERS

The first match of the day was the Mixed Doubles final, with Korean qualifiers Ko & Ha taking on the third-seeded Chinese pair, Olympic bronze medallists He & Yu. The young Koreans got off to a great start, taking the first game as the errors piled up for the Chinese pair.

They struck back in the second though, attacking strongly and despite some tremendous defence, the Koreans were always behind as the match was levelled. The onslaught continued in the decider, with the Chinese taking the first ten points, and there was no coming back from that as the first title of the day went China's way - the fourth time in a row they have taken this title.

IT'S LIN DAN AGAIN

This was the much-awaited rerun of the Beijing Olympic final, with World & Olympic champion Lin Dan out to capture his fourth All England title and to prove he is worthy of the number one ranking - and with a 10/3 head to head record in his favour few were willing to bet against him.

Lin Dan threatened to run away with the first, opening up an 8-2 lead, but a number of errors allowed Lee to stay in touch, and at the interval the second seed led just 11-9. The Malaysian pulled level at 17-all, even led 19-17, but Lin Dan finished the stronger to take the lead.

The world champion held sway in the second, leading 11-8 at the interval and extending that to 18-12. A crosscourt smash found the line, Lee left one that just landed in and it was match point. A tremendous diving recovery from Lin Dan, Lee pushed it long, and Lin Dan had regained the All England title, his fourth victory in six years.

Lin Dan, who was eager to celebrate by going shopping, said: “I felt I played quite well but we both did and the real winners had to be the fans who saw the match.

“There were a couple of times in the first set when I let him get an advantage but I recovered and I thought I played well.”

Lee said: “It was a better match than our Olympic meeting but he has improved! He has got a psychological advantage now after beating me three times in a row recently. Next time I need to break up his rhythm. He is a good attacker and plays very fast.”



EXPERIENCE PAYS IN WOMEN'S DOUBLES

A Chinese victory was assured in this match, and it was the the experienced pair of Zhang & Zhao who made the better start, leading 11-5 in the first and getting the better of some tremendous rallies - including one at 96 shots - to take the first 21-13.

Trailing 11-10 in the second, the elder pair made their experience pay as they pulled ahead, reaching match point on 20-13. Two were saved, but on the third the the youngster's shuttle was erroneously called long to finish the match. A third title for China and third time lucky for Zhao Ting Ting, after two runners-up medals in previous years.



RASMUSSEN'S REIGN ENDED

Another experience v youth clash, and it was the 21-year-old former World Junior Champion who made the early running, holding her nerve at the end of a tight first game to take the lead.

Top seed and defending champion Tine Rasmussen wasn't going to give up her title easily though, and the Dane tightened up her game, contined to get the better of the net exchanges, reached the second game interval leading 11-9 and looked to be getting on top as she extended the lead to 15-12.

Some careless errors let her opponent back into it though, and at 18-all, then 19-all it was in the balance. Some incredible defence from Rasmussen took her to game point, but two smashes from Wang gave her a championship point. Some tremendously determined from the Dane, and three rallies later we were heading for a decider.

Wang kept the pace high, and although Rasmussen was still finding some winners, she was under constant pressure, and the Chinese led 11-5 at the interval. At 16-9 Rasmussen was in need of another miracle comeback as in her semi-final, but her young opponent continued to pile on the pressure, and three consecutive errors made it 19-9. Another mistake gave Wang ten championship points. She needed just two of them, and as Rasmussen's final shot sailed long China was within one win of an unprecedented clean sweep in the open era..



Wang said: “In the third game I felt physically stronger. It was a pity I didn’t take the match point in the second game but I really enjoyed myself out there.

“I had secretly imagined what it would be like to win the title but when I started the match I just focused on what I had to do. I think I played in my peak form today.”



MEN'S DOUBLES SEALS CHINESE DOMINATION

Only another victory by unseeded players could spoil China's day, but the seventh seeded Chinese pair, former world champions, started the last match of the day as overwhelming favourites.

The Korean pairing made a good start, reaching the first game interval 11-10 in the lead, but the Chinese started to get on top with some tremendous play in attack and defence, and a 19-15 lead was a good enough cushion to see them take the lead, 21-17.

Cai & Fu were always ahead in the second, and although the Koreans competed well they could never close the gap. A final midcourt smash and the Chinese pair went down on their knees in celebration.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

All England Semi-finals - Richard Eaton

by Richard Eaton

Lee Chong Wei signalled his determination to atone for his defeat in the Olympic final six months ago with an impressive performance in reaching the final of the All-England Open for the first time.

The top-seeded Malaysian destroyed Taufik Hidayat, the former Olympic and world champion from Indonesia 21-8, 21-13 in little more than half an hour to earn an eagerly anticipated repeat encounter with Lin Dan, the hero of Beijing.

True, Hidayat looked a little slow after his superb but tiring preformance in bringing down Peter Gade, the former world number one from Denmark, the day before, and going to three games with England's Andrew Smith the day before that. But Lee was explosive in attack, resilient in defence, and occasionally inspired as he contained the best shots that his celebrated opponent could throw at him.

The first game was one way traffic, partly because Taufik's error ratio was so high. The second saw Taufik play much better, and Lee's standard improved by even more. The highlight was a sensational rally at 13-12, when Taufik was well in the match, but no matter how hard he tried to push for a winner with smashes and attempted kills, Lee plunged around the court and got everything back.

The Malaysian then played an express sequence of piston-like mid-court exchanges, and finished the point with a winning jab. That took the momentum out of Taufik's partial recovery, and it was not long before Lee was making rapid progress, often with smashes to the body, which sometimes exposed the Indonesian as a little slow.

“Everyone wants to see a repeat of the Olympic final,” said Lee afterwards. “And I will do my best. It will be a difficult match.”

It will indeed, for Lin has won eight of his last nine meetings against the current world number one, and looked in very good form in ending the All-England title defence of his Chinese compatriot, Chen Jing.

He once again displayed his vast range of options, both in attack and defence, and his versatility in switching between them with disconcerting suddenness, to take an early 7-1 and stay well in front all through.

It was about halfway through the second game that Chen began to suffer further difficulties with an enduring back problem, and with the score at 21-12, 11-6 he retired. Both finalists should be relatively fresh for their showdown.

However it was women's singles semi-final between the other top seed, Tine Rasmussen, and the unseeded Chinese player Jiang Yanjiao which produced the best match and the best recovery in this and most other tournaments.

The Dane was so far behind, trailing by a game and 6-15, and then by 9-17, that her title defence seemed over, but somehow she came back to win 22-24, 25-23, 21-15. Rasmussen also saved match points at 19-20 and 22-23 in the second game, forsaking her usual robust attacking style and floating the shuttle around with pushes, clears and lifts, and gradually working her way back into it.

She managed to coax errors from her less experienced 22-year-old opponent, and by the time she had edged forward from 8-8 in the final game to 14-10 and 15-11 it had become evident she had the patience and determination to see the recovery through till the end.

Earlier however, nothing had seemed less likely. After missing a game point for the first game with a missed net shot from well above the height of the net, Rasmussen appeared to sink into a depression. Her body language slumped and her ability to attack diminished, perhaps hindered by the heel injury which had interrupted her preparation for much of the last two weeks.

But during the interval between games Rasmussen was exhorted to fight by Morten Frost, the four times former All-England, who also kept up a constant barrage of encouragement during the second half of the match.

“Morten told me to be patient and to fight,” said Rasmussen. “I think it was my patience more than anything which won it for me. I think it's the best comeback I have ever made and I feel great about it.

It was first time in 29 years that two Danes had reached the semi-finals of the women's singles, but Rasmussen will next play, not another Dane but another unseeded Chinese player, Wang Yihan.

Wang, a 21-year-old former world junior champion was a comfortable 21-11, 21-7 winner over the most surprising survivor, Nanna Brosolat, a 25-year-old from Copenhagen, who may however have been tired after coming through the qualifying competition.
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Rasmussen Survives in All England Semis

Defending women's singles champion Tine Rasmussen is into another All England Final - but only just.

The 29-year-old Dane was a game down and trailing 14/4 in the second to dimunitive Chinese left-hander Yanjiao Jiang, but a tremendous fightback saw her save two match points before levelling, then going on to take the third after an hour's play. Having won the Malaysian and Korean Open titles in January, Rasmussen is chasing a hat-trick of Super Series titles.

Hopes of an all-Danish final were dashed when China's second seed Yihan Wang defeated surprise package Nanna Brosolat in straight games. This is Wan's first All England, but she will be boosted by victory in last week's German Open.

In the first men's semi-final world number one Chong Wei Lee dominated the first game against an out of sorts Taufik Hidayat, and although the Indonesian improved in the second, the top-seeded Malaysian pulled clear to complete a comfortable enough passage into the final, his first All England but his third Super Series final of the year.



There he will face World and Olympic champion Lin Dan, who reached his sixth successive All England final as he put out defending champion Chen Jin. Having barely survived in his quarter-final, Chen was clearly not in the form of last year, and in the second game looked to be struggling with a back injury. At the mid-game interval he called for the tournament doctor, but without being given any treatment decided he was unable to continue and conceded the match.

The men’s doubles final will feature No 7 seeds and former champions Cai Yun & Fu Haifeng of China against unseeded Korean pair Han Sang Hoon & Hwang Ji Man, who are ranked 160 in the world.

The women’s doubles final will be be an all-China final between No 7 seeds Zhang Yawen & Zhao Tingting, who knocked out Olympic champions and 2008 All England runners-up Du Jing and Yu Yang, and unseeded Cheng Shu & Zhao Yunlei, who followed up their quarter-final dismissal of the top seeds to claim a three-game win over Korean fifth seeds Ha & Kim.

In the mixed doubles Korean qualifiers Sung Hyun Ko & Jung Eun Ha followed up their defeat of England's Clark & Kellog with a tremendous comeback win over the Chinese pair of Zheng Bo & M Jin. Having lost the first on extra points they saved a match point in the second, then took the third as the Chinese pair's frustration grew. In the final they face China's third seeds Hanbin He & Yang Yu.

Sat 7th March, SEMI-FINALS:
Men's Singles:
[1] Chong Wei Lee (Mas) bt [7] Taufik Hidayat (Ina) 21/8, 21/13 (34m)
[2] Lin Dan (Chn) bt [3] Chen Jin (Chn) 21/12, 11/6 rtd (30m)

Women's Singles:
[1] Tine Rasmussen (Den) bt Yangjiao Jiang (Chn) 22/24, 25/23, 21/15 (60m)
[2] Yihan Wang (Chn) bt [Q] Nanna Brosolat (Den) 21/11, 21/7 (26m)

Men's Doubles:
Han & Hwang (Kor) bt [6] Lee & Shin (Kor) 21/17, 21/18 (25m)
[7] Cai & Haifeng (Chn) bt [5] Boe & Mogensen (Den) 23/21, 21/14 (40m)

Women's Doubles:
Cheng & Zhao (Chn) bt Ha & Kim (Kor) 21/23, 21/15, 21/17 (68m)
[7] Zhang & Zhao (Chn) bt [4] Du & Yu (Chn) 16/21, 21/16, 21/16 (71m)

Mixed Doubles:
[3] He & Yu (Chn) bt Limpele & Russkikh (Ina/Rus) 21/12, 21/14 (36m)
[Q] Ko & Ha (Kor) bt Zheng & Ma (Chn) 20/22, 24/22, 21/12 (61m)

Chen clings to title amidst quarter-final drama - Richard Eaton

by Richard Eaton

Chen Jin clung to his All-England title by the width of a net tape, after a terrific recovery, and amidst a storm of booing during a controversial finish to his quarter-final in the All-England Open.

It looked as though his unseeded opponent, Sho Sasaki, had come back from a five-point final game deficit to 20-20 when he leapt forward and dismissed a tight net shot from Chen with a lunging kill.

But the third-seeded Chinese player stood and pointed, objecting that there had been a foul, and umpire Mike Wright of New Zealand, after an agonising pause, and a slow gesture, agreed, calling the match to Chen by 14-21, 21-13, 21-19.

Sasaki looked unable to believe it, dropping his racket, complaining, and going walkabout, while Chen shook hands with all the officials.

This brought noisy hoots from the crowd and for a while it looked as though a major incident might blow up, as Chen had completed his formalities and began to make his way towards his kitbag.

But at the last moment the Sasaki got over his frustration, completed his circles of frenzied walking, and shook hands with the champion, and the umpire.

"His racket definitely touched the net," said Chen. "Though it wasn't his fault. It was my game and I am happy to take the point. Just as long as I won it doesn't matter to me how it happens."

Earlier Chen had been in trouble when he went a game and 7-12 down, but suddenly he achieved a better mixture of defence and attack and began coaxing errors from the nimble, patient Sasaki.



Chen was later joined in the semi-finals by Taufik Hidayat, the former Olympic and world champion who reached the All-England final when he was only 17 but in ten years since has never won it.

The famous Indonesian was trailing by two points in both games against Peter Gade, the former world number one from Denmark, but raised his game brilliantly when it most mattered to secure a 21-17, 21-18 win.

"When he got back like that it made me feel a little insecure," admitted the 32-year-old Gade, who is uncertain whether or not he will make one more attempt to win back the title he took in 1999.

"Normally I would make him make some mistakes, but I made a few and I'm disappointed about that. It was like a game of chess out there and he made some good decisions and played very well today."

It was also a disappointment for Gade because he had won three of the last five Super Series tournaments. However he felt he is still playing well enough to have a chance of going on at least to next year's world championships in Paris.

This might enable Gade, a wine-tasting buff, to finish his career in one of his favourite cities, for he feels that going on to the London 2012 Games is probably beyond him.

Later one of his unseeded compatriots fared much better. Nanna Brosolat, who upset Pi Hongyan, the world number four from France, to reach the quarter-finals, followed it with another confident performance and a 21-16, 21-16 win over Wong Pei Xian of Malaysia.

Taufik now plays Lee Chong Wei, the world number one from Malaysia, who conceded only 18 points in beating Ville Kang of Finland, while Chen's title defence took him to a semi-final with Lin Dan, the Olympic champion.

Chen looked superb as he crushed Joachim Persson, the sixth-seeded Dane, and the only remaining European 21-13, 21-6, and afterwards said he would be happy to coach any European youngsters if they were to come to Beijing.

Two Danes and two Chinese, however, have reached the women's singles semi-finals, which may be more to the taste of a predominantly European crowd.

Titleholder, Tine Rasmussen let slip a frightening seven match points in a row from 20-9 in the final game but still beat Yip Pui Yin of Hongkong 21-17, 18-21, 21-16, thus earning a match with Jiang Yanjiao, a surprise survivor.

And in the other semi, Brosolat, who has progressed further than any previous women's singles qualifier, plays Wang Yihan, the rising young world number 17. Wang had already beaten one compatriot who is a former All-England champion, Zhou Mi, and now beat another, Xie Xingfang, 21-19, 21-13, in a rather bloodless encounter.

The biggest surprises in the doubles came in the mixed. First Nova Widianto and Lilyana Natsir, the world champions from Indonesia, lost 21-13, 21-23, 21-16 to their compatriot Flandy Limpele and his Russian partner Anastasia Russkikh; then the Olympic champions from Korea, Lee Yong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung, lost to Zheng Bo, the titleholder from China, and his new partner Ma Jin, 13-21, 21-18, 21-18.
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Friday, March 6, 2009

England pairs fall in Yonex All England quarter-finals



England's hopes of a Yonex All England title were dashed at the quarter-finals stage tonight when the last home hopes both went crashing at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.

Gabby White and Jenny Wallwork fell in straight games to Olympic champions and 2008 runners-up Du Jin and Yu Yang, the fourth seeds from China, 21-6 21-8 in 29 minutes.

White and Wallwork, who are mentored by 2004 Olympic silver and 2006 world champion Gail Emms, just couldn't keep up with the Chinese.

But the England pair can still be well satisfied with their second-round win over Denmark's sixth seeds Lena Frier Kristiansen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl.

Fourth seeds Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg were England's last hopes as they went into mixed doubles action against Ko Sung Hyun and Ha Jung Eun.

But the European champions and 2007 runners-up were knocked out in a 54-minute three-game battle 21-16 15-21 21-11.

The opening game saw the England pair hold the Koreans until 7-7 before they ran away with the opener. But Clark and Kellogg hit back in the second game despite being pegged back from 15-11 to 15-15. Then a run of six points swept Clark and Kellogg to the game at 21-15.

In the decider Clark and Kellogg made the early running but the Koreans were level at 7-7 and never looked back with a match-winning surge from 14-9 to 20-10. Clark and Kellogg saved the first match point but the Koreans took it on the second match point 21-11.
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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Yonex extend All England sponsorship to 31 years

BADMINTON England are celebrating today after agreeing an extension of their title sponsorship for the All England Open Championships with Yonex Co. Ltd.

The new agreement is for five years and will extend the current sponsorship to 2014.

This week’s Championship here in the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham is the 26th to be sponsored by Yonex, the world’s No 1 badminton brand.

But by continuing the sponsorship through to 2014, Yonex will become the longest title sponsors in UK sport.

Adrian Christy, Chief Executive of BADMINTON England, said: “We are delighted to be continuing such a successful partnership. The All England is the oldest and most prestigious tournament in world badminton.

“Next year’s Championships will be the 100th and I am delighted that the extension to our current deal with Yonex will start with us celebrating this great milestone in badminton history.”

Paul Jepson, managing director of Yonex UK, said: “Yonex, are proud to be associated with these magnificent championships and we are delighted to continue this long and successful partnership with BADMINTON England.

“The name Yonex is now synonymous with the All England and long may it continue. I know the founder of the Yonex Company, Mr Minoru Yoneyama, will be here again this week and so it is with perfect timing that we announce this good news to you today.”
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Wallwork and White through to All England quarter-finals

Jenny Wallwork and Gabby White led the way once again on day three of the 99th Yonex All England Badminton Championships at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.

They pulled off what was a surprisingly comfortable win over sixth seeds Lena Frier Kristiansen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl of Denmark 21-12 21-8.

The England girls were clearly pumped up for the match and dominated their Danish opponents, taking just 32 minutes to finish off the seeded pair.

There was a fantastic atmosphere in the arena as many turned up to support the home nation, and this appeared to inspire the young girls.

“That’s the best we’ve ever played,” said White.

"They clearly had a game plan and with the advice of Gail Emms tactically got everything right, attacking from the first point, defending expertly and exposing the Dane’s weaknesses.

“We know one of the girls had been injured recently (Kristiansen) so we needed to get in their faces quickly, get on top of them. Gail knows them inside out, so with her tactical knowledge we had the best preparation we could have had."

Emms and Nathan Robertson defeated Juhl and Thomas Laybourn in the 2005 Yonex All England mixed doubles final.

Wallwork and White’s quarter-final opponents are expected to be Olympic champions and 2008 All England runners-up Du Jing and Yu Yang of China, who play France’s Laura Choinet and Weny Rahmawati later.

“They are Olympic champions but we need to go out there with the same confidence and game plan, and just try and get on top of them,” said Wallwork.




Andrew Smith is in second-round men's singles action later today against former world and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat, the seventh seed.

White is back in action later on when she and Chris Adcock take on European champions and fourth seeds Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg in the mixed doubles in the evening.

And the third day action finishes with the Anglo-Scottish pairing of Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier taking on Flandy Limpele of Indonesia and Anastasia Russkikh of Russia also in the mixed doubles.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Smith through to All England second round for first time

Jenny Wallwork and Gabby White recorded England's first win on day two of the 99th Yonex All England Badminton Championships 2009.

And Andrew Smith came from behind against Chetan Anand in the men's singles to book a second-round clash with former world and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat.

The Yorkshire pair gave a magnificent display to beat their Malaysian opponents Liu Ying Goh and Hui Lin Ng 19-21 21-17 22-20.

The turning point in the match was in the second game as the English pair found themselves 7-13 down. A run of eight straight points then gave them a 15-13 lead, as they went on to level the match.

Although squandering two match points in the third, they took the contest at the third attempt in what was a hard-fought, deserved victory.

Smith got off to a slow start in his match, losing the first game 21-6 before hitting back hard to beat Anand 21-17 21-12 and claim a place in the second round for the first time.

Smith said: "I hadn't played much since Friday at the German tournament so it took a bit of time to get into it.

"I didn't start very well but I slowly got into it. I was playing too slow and had to speed up my game."

But there were some disappointments on the second day of the Championships, particularly the withdrawal of British Olympic star Nathan Robertson through illness.

He was struck down by a virus, forcing him and Anthony Clark, the eighth seeds, to withdraw from the men’s doubles. It also denied fans the chance to see Robertson take on Clark in the mixed doubles in what would have been the match of the day.

Fourth seeds Clark and Donna Kellogg received a walkover into the second round where they could meet Chris Adcock and Gabby White if the teenagers win their opening match.

Men’s doubles pairing Chris Langridge and David Lindley battled well with Holland’s Jorrit De Ruiter and Jurgen Wouters but went down 21-14, 12-21,
22-20 on the third match point.

Nicola Cerfontyne and Rachel Howard had the difficult task of taking on fourth seeds and Olympic champions Du Jing and Yu Yang of China in the women’s doubles. The Chinese proved too much for the English pairing as they were comprehensively beaten 21-7, 21-7.

Another disappointment, this time in the men’s doubles, saw Super Series Masters finalists Chris Adcock and Robert Blair lose out to Denmark’s Anders Kristiansen and Simon Mollyhus 19-21 21-17 21-12.

Richard Eidestedt and Andrew Ellis put up one of the performances of the day despite losing to 2007 champions Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong 15-21 21-7 21-19.

Anglo-Scottish women’s doubles pairing Mariana Agathangelou and Imogen Bankier failed to produce a win to lift the home fans, as they went down 21-17 21-16 to China’s Pan Pan and Qing Tian.
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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pittard through to main draw at Yonex All England

COVENTRY’S Jill Pittard moved confidently through the women’s singles qualifying rounds into the main draw on day one of the Yonex All England Championships at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.

The new English National champion took her opening qualifying match with a good win over third seed Anu Nieminen of Finland 21-14 21-14. And the 31-year-old Land Rover engineer then overcome Diana Dimova of Bulgaria 21-13 21-8 to earn a place in the main draw, where she will face Pui Yin Yip of Hong Kong tomorrow (Wednesday, 10am).

Pittard said: “I was surprised how easily I beat Nieminen but it was my priority to get through to the main draw. But it will be tough tomorrow.”

But there was disappointment for National men’s singles champion Rajiv Ouseph (Middx) and runner-up Carl Baxter (Avon). Ouseph came from a game down to lead Scott Evans of Ireland in his first qualifying test and looked to be on the way to victory when he led 13-11 in the third.

But the Irishman, who lost to Ouseph 21-5 21-19 in the final of the Yonex Irish International in early December, clawed his way back to 14-14 before going on to snatch victory 21-17 9-21 21-19.

Minutes earlier Canadian-born Baxter had been beaten by Anand Pawar of India 18-21 21-17 23-21 despite having led 2-18 in the decider. Afterwards he said: “I became too impatient to win. I was trying to force the issue all the time. He was lucky towards the end but played well.”

Baxter, who lost to Pawar 22-20 in the third game of their quarter-final clash at the Bank of Scotland International in November, added: “I was expecting to face Rajiv in the next round but he lost as well, which was a complete shock.”

England’s other singles disappointment saw Rachel Howard fall in the second qualifying round to Denmark’s Nanna Brasolat Jenssen 21-12 21-9. But at least Howard is through to the main women’s doubles draw after she and Nicola Cerfontyne were promoted from the qualifying draw.

There was agony for Robin Middleton (Yorks) and Mariana Agathangelou (Avon), who were one point away from a place in the main draw of the mixed doubles. In fact, they had three match points against third seeds Johannes Schoettler and Birgit Overzier, the pick of them coming from an amazing cross-court winner by Middleton at 21-20. But Middleton then put his serve out and the England pair were finally edged out by the Germans 8-21 22-20 24-22.

But Yorkshire’s Sarah Bok and Andrew Ellis went through to the main draw when they defeated Dutch pair Ruud Bosch and Paulien van Dooremalen 22-20 21-18. Middleton will get a second chance to make the main draw later tonight when he and Marcus Ellis face India’s Chetan Anand and Diju Valiyaveetil in their final men’s doubles qualifier.

Rob Adcock (Notts) and Dean George (Herts) meet Guo Zhendong and Xu Chen and Andrew Bowman (Scotland) and Martyn Lewis (Wales) take on Rasmus Bonde and Mikkel Delbo Larsen for places in the main draw in the qualifying day’s final matches.

The first day of the Championships was made extra special by a visit from the Barclays Premier League football trophy – with several top stars, including Rexy Mainaky and Lee Chong Wei being photographed with the trophy.
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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Adcock and Blair fall in the semi-finals in Mulheim

Second seeds Chris Adcock and Robert Blair fell in the semi-final of the men's doubles at the Yonex German Open in Mulheim.

The England pair went down 28-26 21-16 against Koreans Lee Yong Dae and Shin Baek Cheol. It was Lee who had beaten Adcock in the mixed doubles quarter-finals the night before.

Adcock and Blair led 19-16 in the opening game before the Koreans caught up. In total the England pair had six game points before the Koreans took the game on their fifth.

In the second game Adcock and Blair saved three match points before Lee and Shin won it on their fourth to end a 40-minute duel.

But Adcock and Blair will have given themselves a timely boost by their efforts this week as they head home for the Yonex All England Championships, starting on Tuesday in Birmingham.

Friday

Chris Adcock and Robert Blair are through to the semi-finals of the men's doubles at the Yonex German Open in Mulheim.

The second seeds beat Kwon Yo Goo and Yoo Yeon Seong 21-16 11-21 21-19 in a gripping quarter-final. In the semi-final they will meet another Korean pair in Lee Yong Dae and Shin Baek Cheol.

But Adcock's bid for a second semi-final place ended in disappointment as he and Gabby White, the sixth seeds, went down bravely against Lee Yong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung, the Olympic mixed doubles champions.

The England pair were edged out 23-21 21-15 but Adcock will bid for revenge when he meets Yong Dae again in the men's doubles.

In the men's singles Andrew Smith took China's top seed Bao Chunlai to three games before losing 21-11 14-21 21-7. And three-times National champion Elizabeth Cann also went down to a top seed in the women's singles when she lost 21-8 21-17 to China's Zhu Lin.

The England performances in Mulheim will leave Ian Wright's players in good heart for next week's Yonex All England Championships in Birmingham, starting on Tuesday.

But first Adcock and Blair have unfinished business on Semifinal Saturday.

Thursday

Andrew Smith is through to Friday's quarter-finals of the Yonex German Open in Mulheim.

The fifth seed scored two wins on day two, beating Anand Pawar 14-21 21-4 21-8 in the second round and then toppling another Indian in ninth seed Arvin Bhat, coming from behind to win a tight match 16-21 21-11 21-19. That earned him a clash with China's top seed Bao Chunlai.

But English National champion Rajiv Ouseph's hopes of joining him were dashed when, after beating Malaysian Chun Seang Tan 21-18 17-21 21-15, he went down to Chinese qualifier Chen Long 21-12 21-14.

In the women's singles Elizabeth Cann faces the same sort of task as Smith after reaching the last eight. She beat Japan's Megumi Taruno 22-20 21-14 in the second round and now faces Chinese top seed Zhu Lin.

Sixth seeds Chris Adcock and Gabby White also went through to the quarter-finals with a 21-18 21-17 win over Canadians William Milroy and Fiona McKee and they now face Olympic champions Lee Yong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung of Korea.

But there was disappointment for Richard Eidestedt and Andrew Ellis in the mixed doubles when the top seeds went down 21-10 21-17 to Malaysian Halim Haryanto Ho and Indonesian Flandy Limpele.

But second seeds Chris Adcock and Robert Blair are through to a quarter-final clash with Malaysians Mak Hee Chun and Tan Wee Kiong after their 21-17 21-19 win over Koreans Kwon Yi Goo and Yoo Yeon Seong.

blair and adcockIn the women's doubles defending Yonex All England champions Lee Hyo Jung and Lee Kyung Won knocked out the Anglo-Scottish pair of Mariana Agathangelou and Jillie Cooper 21-11 21-10.

Wednesday

Rajiv Ouseph knocked out eighth seed Dicky Palyama of Holland to reach the second round of the Yonex German Open.

The English National champion won 21-12 21-18 to earn a second-round clash with malaysian Tan Chun Seang.

Fifth seed Andrew Smith also went thorugh to the last 32 but he was made to battle by Canadian David Snider before winning 23-25 21-19 21-16. He now meets India's Anand Pawar.

Elizabeth Cann is also through to the second round after winning her opening women's singles clash with Denmark's Nanna Brosolat Jensen 21-14 21-18. She now meets Megumi Taruno of Japan. Commonwealth bronze medallist Susan Hughes went down in three games to Holland's judith Meulendijks, losing 17-21 21-13 21-19.

Top men's doubles seeds Richard Eidestedt and Andrew Ellis had to work hard to win their opener against Poland's Adam Cwalina and Wojciech Szkudlarkczyk. Their 21-12 21-23 21-14 win earned them a second round clash with Flandy Limpele of Indonesia and Halim Haryanto Ho of Indonesia.

Second seeds Chris Adcock and Robert Blair had a comfortable 21-9 21-13 win over Baptiste Careme and Ronan Labar of France. But Chris Langridge and David Lindley went down 21-11 18-21 21-12 against Korea's Kwon Yi Goo and Yoo Yeon Seong.

Yonex All England champions Lee Hyo Jung and Lee Kyung Won of Korea were too strong for England's Sarah Bok and Gabrielle White. Their 21-6 21-9 win netted them a second-round clash with Mariana Agathangelou and Jillie Cooper after the Anglo-Scottish pair beat Samantha Barning and Eefje Muskens 21-17 21-17.

Sixth seeds Chris Adcock and Gabby White had a mixed doubles walkover to move within one win of a likely clash with Olympic champions Lee Yong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung in the quarter-finals.

But England's three other hopes fell in the first round. Third seeds David Lindley and Suzanne Rayappan missed a match point in losing 22-20 in the third game against Flandy Limpele and Anastasia Russkikh.

And Cooper and Agathangelou went out in straight games with partners Chris Langridge and Robin Middleton respecitvely against Korean pairs.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tracey calls time on her glittering career

TRACEY HALLAM today brought down the curtain on a glittering badminton career - just days before the start of the Yonex All England Championships in Birmingham.

The 33-year-old left-hander from Burton-on-Trent bows out with a string of successes to her name.

Topping the list is the Commonwealth Games gold medal she won in Melbourne in 2006 to make up for her disappointment in Manchester 2002 when she had to settle for the silver.

But she also won two English Nationals singles titles and one women’s doubles crown as well as titles on the international circuit to go with her 81 England appearances.

On the international circuit she won titles in France, Vietnam, Romania and Israel as recently as 2007 and Taipei in 2005. But perhaps her best performance at Open tournaments was in finishing runner-up at the 2006 Malaysian Open.

In 10 years at the top she climbed to No 7 in the world and reached the last eight in three consecutive world championships - 2005 in Anaheim, 2006 in Madrid and, after being sidelined for six months with a career-threatening ankle injury, the 2007 championships in Kuala Lumpur.

Tracey’s comeback was complete when she qualified for Great Britain's Olympic squad in Beijing and her second Olympics, having reached the quarter-finals in Athens in 2004 when she beat Denmark's former world champion Camilla Martin for the first time in the second round. In Beijing she reached the third round before bowing out.

She also helped England win the bronze medal at the Sudirman Cup world mixed team championships in Glasgow in 2007.

England head coach Ian Wright said: "We are sorry to lose Tracey. She has led the way in women's singles for the last eight years. She has been a credit to the sport, particularly with the way she fought back from her 2006 injury. She will be a hard player to replace but it has been a pleasure working with her.”

Tracey said: "Since the Olympics in Beijing I have had chance to take stock and I think now is the right time to stop. I have a lot of happy memories, particularly winning my first English National title by finally beating my great rival Julia Mann and then winning the Commonwealth gold medal. That made up for the disappointment of losing in 2002 against a player I had beaten in the team event.

“Having won a women’s doubles title at the 2008 English National Championships without any preparation, I would have like to have carried on playing doubles but it wasn’t to be.”

Tracey, who will be watching many of her former team-mates at next week’s Yonex All England Championships at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, said: “It’s a great tournament – it attracts the world’s best – and brings back many happy memories. But there are other tournaments which are also special. I have fond memories of my success in Taiwan and Vietnam and of reaching the Malaysian Open final.”
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Emms to lead Masterclass on Sky Sports

Olympic medallist Gail Emms will lead a badminton masterclass to mark her new role as an athlete mentor for Sky Sports Living for Sport. The masterclass for young people from Idsall School, Shropshire will take place at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham on Monday 2 March, ahead of the All England Open from 3 to 8 March, which will be shown live on Sky Sports.

Sky Sports Living for Sport is a programme for secondary schools in the UK that uses sport to motivate and inspire young people who are at risk of opting out of school life. The free scheme www.skysports.com/livingforsport for 11 to 16 year olds was created by the Youth Sport Trust in partnership with Sky.

The badminton masterclasss, led by Gail Emms alongside National Head Coach Ian Wright, will take eight young people from Idsall School in Shropshire through badminton basics before putting them into singles and doubles matches. The young people will be encouraged to learn new skills from the athletes and discover the enjoyment that can be gained from taking part in sport.

Gail joins a team of athlete mentors led by Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell, who provide help and advice to youngsters involved with the programme. The other mentors include:

• Nicola Minichiello, Bobsleigh, World Championship medallist and Olympian
• Helene Raynsford, Rowing, Paralympic medallist
• Joe Glanfield, Sailing, Olympic medallist
• Craig Heap, Gymnastics, Olympian and commonwealth medallist
• Tom Davis, Judo; 2012 hopeful
• Rachael Mackenzie, World Nr.1 Thai Boxer
• Tim Prendergast, Athletics (Middle distance), Paralympics medallist
• Michelle Robinson, Athletics (Triple Jump), Olympian
• Kerry Jane Williams, England Hockey, 2012 Hopeful
• Adam Whitehead, Swimming, Olympian and commonwealth medallist

Sky Sports Living for Sport is supported by the department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and encourages pupils to learn new sports and get involved in different activities connected with sport such as organising and running sports related events to develop new skills and confidence. Teachers use the scheme to help pupils work towards measurable self-development goals that help build interpersonal and leadership skills.

17,000 young people in over 600 schools have benefitted since the programme began in 2003 and over 200 schools have already signed up this year. The ambition of the project is for 2,000 schools and 30,000 young people to register with Sky Sports Living for Sport by 2012 and to build the activities into curricular and extra curricular activities.

Gail Emms, Sky Sports Living for Sport athlete mentor commented: “I am really looking forward to visiting schools and mentoring young people involved with the Sky Sports Living for Sport scheme. I was helped by a variety of people throughout my career and fully appreciate how positive an effect mentoring and sport can have on young people. The badminton masterclass should be a great introduction to the initiative for me.”

An independent study on the impact of Sky Sports Living for Sport carried out by The Institute of Youth Sport at Loughborough University provides some very encouraging figures: 68.7% of teachers reported the project had a positive impact on reducing bullying in their schools and 80% of pupils sustained positive impact at 12 and 24 months after the end of the project.*

Sky Sports has scheduled more than 20 hours of coverage of the All England Open including 15 hours of live coverage across the three days of competitive matches. Live coverage is as follows:

Friday 6 March Day One 5.30pm – 10.30pm Sky Sports 3
Saturday 7 March Day Two 12.30pm – 5.30pm Sky Sports Xtra
Sunday 8 March Day Three 12.30pm – 5.30pm Sky Sports Xtra
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

England players in final warm-up for Birmingham

WHILE Nathan Robertson and Anthony Clark start the countdown to their mixed doubles first-round showdown at next week's Yonex All England Championships, England's singles players head for Mulheim and last-minute tournament practice by tackling the Yonex German Open.

Two-time English National champion Rajiv Ouseph and this year's runner-up Carl Baxter are both in tomorrow's men's singles first round along with fifth seed Andrew Smith while Jamie Bonsels and Harry Wright tackle tomorrow's qualifying rounds.

Smith starts his bid against Canadian David Snider with Anand Pawar of India or Malaysian Daren Liew the second-round opponent.

Ouseph has a tough opener against eighth seed Dicky Palyama of Holland while Baxter meets a qualifier in a 64-man first round.

In the women's singles Sarah Walker must qualify but three-times National champion Elizabeth Cann meets Denmark's Nanna Brosolat Jensen. British squad rival Susan Hughes has an even tougher clash against Dutch No 2 Judith Meulendijks.

China have top seeds in both singles through Bao Chunlai and Zhu Lin.

But England are top seeds in the men's doubles in the shape of Richard Eidestedt and Andrew Ellis with Chris Adcock and Robert Blair the second seeds. Blair and Adcock are on course for an all-English second round clash with Chris Langridge and David Lindley if both pairs win their openers.

In the mixed doubles Sarah Bok and Gabby White have been unlucky to draw top seeded Koreans Lee Hyo Jung and Lee Kyung Won, the Yonex All England champions from Korea in the first round.

Mariana Agathangelou and Scotland's Jillie Cooper start against a qualifier - but a win will pit them against the Koreans or their GB training partners in the second round!

Robin Middleton and Agathangelou are third seeds in the mixed doubles qualifying and Andrew Ellis and Bok are in qualifying action with them today.

In the main draw Adcock and White are sixth seeds and start against Jorrit de Ruiter and Ilse Vaessen of Holland. But their big test lies in the quarter-finals when they could run into top seeds and Olympic champions Lee Yong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung.

England also have third seeds David Lindley and Suzanne Rayappan in the bottom half of the draw where they start against Indonesia's Flandy Limpele and Russia's Anastasia Russkikh. Langridge and Cooper open against a qualifer.
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Monday, February 23, 2009

Tickets selling fast for 99th Yonex All England

WITH just over a week to go to the start of the 99th Yonex All England Championships, BADMINTON England are bracing themselves for a blockbuster tournament at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.

Tickets for the finals on Sunday, March 8 are already sold out and the semi-finals on Saturday, March 7 are also virtually all gone.

The Championships start with the qualifying rounds in all five events, commencing at 11am on Tuesday March 3.

For the second year running, the qualifying rounds are open to the public, offering the chance to see many of England's top players like two-time English National men's singles champion Rajiv Ouseph and new National women's singles champion Jill Pittard in action.

They will be competing along with many international stars who have not clinched direct entry into the 32-strong main draw in this third BWF Super Series event of the year.

Pittard is one of the local stars in action – and is one of the few players in the world's top 50 to hold down a full-time job. The 31-year-old is an engineer at Land Rover in Coventry.

This year's line-up is one of the best ever with Olympic and world champions competing at the National Indoor Arena. China's world and Olympic champion Lin Dan is the star attraction with big names like Peter Gade, Lee Chong Wei and Taufik Hidayat out to stop him winning a fourth men's singles title.

Denmark's world No 1 Tine Rasmussen is back to defend her women's singles title.

Nearly 300 players from 34 nations will be taking part and tournament director Darren Parks, running his seventh consecutive All England at the NIA, said today: "It's incredible. Finals day was just about sold out even before we announced the entry list and there are now very few tickets left for the Saturday.

"That's how popular the Yonex All England Championships have become. Ticket sales are going so well that I urge fans to book now to get the seats they want.

"The fact that the Championships follow on closely from the English Nationals in Manchester and the European Team Championship in Liverpool in the last five weeks has really got the spectators excited about the All England."

To book tickets check out www.theticketfactory.com or telephone 0844 444 9994. Tickets are also available from the NIA box office during the event

Tickets are on offer in a range of prices with discounts for BADMINTON England members, senior citizens and students.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Home hopes out of luck in Yonex All England draw

THE luck of the draw deserted England's two big hopes for the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham from February March 3-8.

Just two days after helping Team England win the silver medal at the European Team Championship at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England's European champions and fourth seeds Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg, the 2007 runners-up, were drawn against their team-mates, 2005 champion Nathan Robertson and new partner Jenny Wallwork, in the first round of the mixed doubles.

And the winners could face another England pair in teenage stars Chris Adcock and Gabby White in the second round.

On top of that Anglo-Scottish pair Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier, who are the seventh seeds, must take on England's world No 16 pair David Lindley and Suzanne Rayappan in the first round.

But it wasn't only England who were out of luck. Three-times champion Lin Dan is on course to meet his team-mate Bao Chunlai in the second round of the men's singles if the world and Olympic champion overcomes a qualifier and Bao beats Dutchman Eric Pang in the opening round of the men's singles. China's third seed Chen Jin, who beat Lin Dan in last year's final, starts his title defence against Japan's Kenichi Tago.

Andrew Smith, the hero of England's valiant bid to beat Denmark on Sunday with his win over world No. 6 Joachim Persson, is the only home player in the main draw of the men's singles and he faces India's Chetan Anand in the first round.

Two-time English National champion Rajiv Ouseph and runner-up Carl Baxter both have to qualify. Ouseph faces Ireland's Scott Evans while Baxter meets India's Anand Pawar, who beat him in the Bank of Scotland quarter-finals in Novermber before Ouseph defeated the Indian player in the final.

In the women's singles Jersey's Elizabeth Cann is the only English player in the main draw and she faces a tough opener against seventh seed Wang Lin of China. Scotland's Commonwealth bronze medallist Susan Hughes will face a qualifier. English National champion Jill Pittard meets Finland's third qualifying seed Anu Nieminen in the first round of qualifying.

In the men's doubles Clark and Robertson are seeded eighth and face a tricky opener against Korea's Han Sang Hoon and Hwang Ji Man. England have three other pairs in the main draw with Chris Adcock and Robert Blair in the same quarter as Clark and Robertson. Adock and Blair face Simon Mollyhus and Anders Kristiansen of Denmark in their opening match.

Lindley and Chris Langridge will fancy their chances against Dutch pair Jorrit De Ruiter and Jurgen Wouters but Andrew Eidestedt and Andrew Ellis face a tough time against Malaysian third seeds Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong, the 2007 champions.

In the women's doubles Wallwork and Gabby White face Malaysians Goh Liu Ying and Ng Hui Lin while England also have a second pair through to the main draw in Heather Olver and Samantha Ward, who take on Japan's Fujii Mizuki and Reika Kakiiwa.

The entry for the 99th Yonex All England Open championship is one of the strongest on record and tournament director Darren Parks is urging fans to book early. "We have a terrific entry," he said. "It is like a Who's Who of current world stars."

Tickets are available from www.theticketfactory.com or call 0844 444 9994. Don't forget tickets are available for the qualifying rounds on Tuesday March 3 as well as the main draw.


Yonex All England Seeds

Men's singles: Women's singles:
1 Lee Chong Wei (Mas) 1 Tine Rasmussen (Den)
2 Lin Dan (Chn) 2 Zhou Mi (Hkg)
3 Chen Jin (Chn) 3 Lu Lan (Chn)
4 Peter Gade (Den) 4 Pi Hongyan (Fra)
5 Sony Dwi Kuncoro (Ina) 5 Xie Xingfang (Chn)
6 Joachim Persson (Den) 6 Zhu Lin (Chn)
7 Taufik Hidayat ((Ina) 7 Wang Lin (Chn)
8 Przemyslaw Wacha (Pol) 8 Xu Huaiwen (Ger)

Men's doubles:
1 Markis Kido & Hendra Setiawan (Ina)
2 Lars Paaske & Jonas Rasmussen (Den)
3 Koo Kien Keat & Tan Boon Heong (Mas)
4 Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif & Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari (Mas)
5 Mathias Boe & Carsten Mogensen (Den)
6 Lee Yong Dae & Shin Baek Choel
7 Cai Yun & Fu Haifeng (Chn)
8 Anthony Clark & Nathan Robertson (Eng)

Women's doubles:
1 Cheng Wen Hsing & Chien Yu Chin (Tpe)
2 Chin Eei Hui & Wong Pei Tty (Mas)
3 Lee Hyo Jung & Lee Kyung Won (Kor)
4 Du Jing & Yu Yang (Chn)
5 Ha Jung Eun & Kim Min Jung (Kor)
6 Lena Frier Kristiansen & Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Den)
7 Zhang Yawen & Zhao Tingting (Chn)
8 Shendy Puspa Irawati & Greysia Polii (Ina)

Mixed doubles:
1 Nova Widianto & Liliyana Natsir (Ina)
2 Lee Yong Dae & Lee Hyo Jung (Kor)
3 He Hanbin & Yu Yang (Chn)
4 Anthony Clark & Donna Kellogg (Eng)
5 Thomas Laybourn & Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Den)
6 Joachim Fischer Nielsen & Christinna Pedersen (Den)
7 Robert Blair (Eng) & Imogen Bankier (Sco)
8 Sudket Prapakamol & Saralee Thoungthongkam (Tha)

COMPETITION PROGRAMME:
Tuesday, March 3: Qualifying rounds 11am-10pm approx (5 courts)
Wednesday, March 4: First rounds from 10am-10pm approx (5 courts)
Thursday, March 5: Second rounds from10am-10pm approx (3 courts, interval 4pm-5pm)
Friday, March 6: Quarter-finals from 5pm-10.30pm approx (3 courts)
Saturday, March 7: Semi-finals from 12.30pm-5pm approx (2 courts)
Sunday, March 8: Finals from 12.30pm-5pm approx (1 court)
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Bumper entry for Yonex All England

THE 99th Yonex All England Championship organisers were celebrating today after receiving a star-studded entry for the tournament at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham from March 3-8.

The entry for the first Super Series event of the year in Europe includes four of the gold medal winners at the Beijing Olympics with double women’s singles winner Zhang Ning (China) the only player missing.

World champion Lin Dan, who was men’s singles runner-up last year, will be back to bid for his fourth All England title in six years, while Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia will be out to add the All England men’s doubles title to their Olympic gold and 2007 world title.

In the women’s doubles China’s Olympic winners Du Jing and Yu Yang will be aiming to improve on their runners-up spot in Birmingham last year but they will once against be up against defending champions Lee Hyo Jung and Lee Kyung Won.

In the mixed doubles Lee Yong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung, the Korean pair who defeated Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms on the way to the OIympic mixed title, will be the pair to beat although double world champions and Olympic silver medallists Nova Widianto and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia will be among those out to stop them.

But there aren’t just Olympic champions on parade as the quality of the entry reflects the pulling power of the world’s oldest and most prestigious tournament.

Denmark’s world No. 1 Tine Rasmussen will be defending her women’s singles title and will be up against world champion Zhu Lin of China.

Her Danish team-mate, the 1999 All England winner Peter Gade, will come to Birmingham fresh from his resurgent Korean Open final victory over World No 1 Lee Chong Wei, who has never been beyond the semi-finals in Birmingham.

But last year’s men’s singles winner Chen Jin will be another to watch in the men’s singles where England’s world No 21 Andrew Smith (Hants) is in the main draw along with Canadian Carl Baxter (Avon). Two-time National champion Rajiv Ouseph (Middlesex) will have to qualify, such is the strength of the men’s entry.

In the mixed doubles Zheng Bo, winner in 2007 and 2008 with Gao Ling, will try for another title with new partner Ma Jin.

Many of the players who this week have been competing in Liverpool at the European Team Championship have entered – including England stars Nathan Robertson and Anthony Clark (both Notts) in men’s doubles. They will be supported by Robert Blair (Leics) and Chris Adcock (Notts), Richard Eidestedt (Bucks) and Andrew Ellis (Yorks) and David Lindley (Notts) and Chris Langridge (Surrey).

But England’s strength in depth comes once again in the mixed where European champions Clark and Donna Kellogg (Derbyshire) and Blair and Imogen Bankier (Scotland) can expect to be seeded. Robertson will also be in the mix with new partner Jenny Wallwork, along with world No 16s David Lindley (Notts) and Suzanne Rayappan (Herts) and young prospects Chris Adcock and Gabby White (Yorks) will be out to make their mark.

In the women’s singles Jersey’s Elizabeth Cann is in the main draw but new National champion Jill Pittard (Warwicks) must qualify.

But England have four pairs in the main draw of the women’s doubles with Yorkshire pair Wallwork and White leading the way.

Tournament Director Darren Parks said: “We couldn’t have wished for a stronger entry. It’s a great chance to see the England and GB players test themselves against the best of the rest.”

COMPETITION PROGRAMME:

Tuesday, March 3: Qualifying rounds 11am-10pm approx (5 courts)
Wednesday, March 4: First rounds from 10am-10pm approx (5 courts)
Thursday, March 5: Second rounds from10am-10pm approx (3 courts, interval 4pm-5pm)
Friday, March 6: Quarter-finals from 5pm-10.30pm approx (3 courts)
Saturday, March 7: Semi-finals from 12.30pm-5pm approx (2 courts)
Sunday, March 8: Finals from 12.30pm-5pm approx (1 court)
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Denmark overcome early setback to clinch Euro title

By Raphael Sachetat, Badminton World Federation

Denmark overcame a 0/2 lead from England to clinch their 8th title in a row, beating the local heroes in a thrilling final.



The English squad couldn’t be more disappointed. So close, yet so far. Things had started off the best way for England, with Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg against an unexpected line up in the name of Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christina Pedersen, the second best pair in Denmark, when everyone thought Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Thomas Laybourn would have been featured.

But the purpose was obviously to give the youngsters experience, as a result of which, Clark and Kellogg gave England a winning start with a 21/10 – 23/21 victory. But the biggest surprise of the day saw Andrew Smith beat Joachim Persson in the second match.

Persson was way favourite in spite of his lack of form lately, but Smith played beautifully in the first game while Persson had trouble getting the engine starting. In the second game, Persson had gotten his game together and led 18/15 but Smith was helped by the local fans, who shouted “out” back to back on one of Persson’s long shuttle.

The English may have played one of them, but instead let it drop to get the point. Few minutes later, Persson was arguing for a dubious line call, which got him aggravated, frustrated with his play as well as the lack of luck towards the end. Smith scored 5 points to lead 20/18 after Persson lost focus and in spite of one match point saved by the Dane, Smith was giving an unexpected lead to his team-mates.

“Joachim has not been playing as well lately as he had at the end of last year, he is in a bit of a slump. He played too much in Smith’s strength tonight. Hopefully, we’ll have enough time to prepare for the All England. But at that stage, at 0/2, We knew it would then be difficult for us to win, but we remained focused and confident,” said Kenneth Jonassen, acting as a coach for the first time.

“But then, Tine put it back together and got us back on track as she was way above Elisabeth Cann. It gave us some confidence.” added Jonassen.

The world number one indeed didn’t have to push her talent to outplay Elisabeth Cann, who was trailing during the whole match for a final 21/14 – 21/10 score.

The men’s doubles promised to be a battle of the nerves between the experienced Nathan Robertson and Clark – who had done an astonishing job in the mixed – and the less experienced Mathias Boe and Casrten Mogensen – who still have been involved in some important matches before, even if they were not necessarily the leading pair in the squad at the time.

And the Danes delivered, winning in three hard fought games 21/17 – 16/21 – 21/15, at the great satisfaction of their coach : “I think the key to this tie was the men’s doubles. Carsten and Matthias played very well in the first and deciding game. They proved they could focus but most importantly that they gained a lot on mental strength,” said Jonassen.

“At 2/2, we were then relying on the women’s double. We believed in Kamilla’s experience and Maria’s good defense and mobility,” added the Dane.

And the last and deciding point was an undecided battle between Kellogg and Jenny Wallwork against Juhl and Roepke. Although the “rookie” Roepke was nervous, she overcame it quickly – and became rather confident through out the match.

“I was nervous at the beginning but then we played well so it was ok,” said Roepke, the daughter of the legend Lene Koppen.

“ I knew that they were nervous too. On my hand, I had played in team events in the Uber Cup in the Netherlands and then in Indonesia last year, while Jenny didn’t,” added Roepke.

She and Juhl gave no chance to their opponents, who tried to play on Roepke rather than her taller partner, but it wasn’t sufficient to destabilise the Danes, who went on to a 21/14 – 21/15 success before standing on the top spot of the podium together with their team-mates, for the 8th time in a row.

“I am very satisfied with this victory, of course, because we won, of course, but also because we were here to test some players under a new kind of pressure. The mixed, for instance, tonight had never been under such a team pressure before. And all through out the week, some showed some some mental strength, and for others, we’ll need to work a bit more on that aspect of their game, but overall it was a great experience for the players,” said Jonassen.
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

England shattered by Denmark fightback

Team England's dream of winning the European Team Championship turned into a nightmare last night as they saw a surprise 2-0 lead turn into a 3-2 defeat by Denmark in the final at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

European champions and world No 4 pair Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg gave England a flying start by winning the mixed doubles then World No 21 Andrew Smith got the better of world No 6 Joachim Persson for the first time in eight men's singles meetings.

Smith had lost to Persson in the 3-0 defeat in last year's final in Denmark but in the Echo Arena he turned in a tenacious display.

Although world No 1 and Yonex All England champion Tine Rasmussen put Denmark's first point on the board when she defeated Elizabeth Cann, the Center Parcs supported Team England squad still had high hopes going into the men's doubles.

But Clark and Nathan Robertson, winning his 97th cap, could not quite get the better of Carsten Mogensen and Mathias Boe.

That left it at 2-2 and Kellogg and Jenny Wallwork were left with the task of winning the deciding rubber just as they had done the night before in the semi-finals against Poland.

But Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Lene Koppen's daughter Marie Roepke were too strong for them and won 21-14 21-15 to complete the fightback.

England head coach Ian Wright was clearly dispirited. "We got a good start but we need to be finishing off matches like this,"he said.

"We showed a lot of guts in the way we played against Poland but I am very disappointed that we couldn't finish off Denmark. We came here for the gold medal, we had the chance, but we didn't take it.

"We have the talent coming through, we have the coaches and the facilities but we need the team to be tougher – like Denmark were tonight.

"For us Jenny Wallwork has been excellent this week and Andrew Smith played well today but he needs to be more consistent and he knows that."


Denmark 3 England 2
(Denmark names first)

Men's Singles
Joachim Persson lost to Andrew Smith 21-16 21-19

Women's Singles
Tine Rasmussen bt Elizabeth Cann 21-14 21-10

Men's Doubles
Mathias Boe & Carsten Mogensen bt Anthony Clark & Nathan Robertson
21-17 16-21 21-15

Women's Doubles
Kamilla Juhl & Marie Roepke bt Donnna Kellogg & Jennifer Wallwork 21-14 21-15

Mixed Doubles
Christinna Pedersen & Joachim Fischer Nielsen lost to Anthony Clark & Donna Kellogg 21-10 23-21.
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Kellogg & Wallwork rescue England's golden dream

DONNA KELLOGG (Derbyshire) and Jenny Wallwork (Yorks) saved Team England’s gold medal hopes in the European Team Championship semi-finals at the Echo Arena in Liverpool tonight.

After a four-hour battle with Poland the second seeds won 3-2 to book a final rematch with holders and 12-times winners Denmark, who beat Russia 3-0 in the morning semi-final.

But England, who lost to the Danes in last year’s final in Herning, were taken all the way by Poland and needed a nail-biting three-game win by Kellogg and Wallwork over Kamila Augustyn and Malgorzata Kurdelska in the women’s doubles to make it into tomorrow’s final.

Last year they beat Poland 3-0 in the semi-finals but this time it was a different story despite Kellogg and Anthony Clark (Notts) winning the opening mixed doubles 21-15 21-9 against Michal Logosz and Natalia Pocztowiak.

But Poland levelled it when World No 9 Przemyslaw Wacha defeated World No 21 Andrew Smith (Hants) 21-11 22-20 in the men’s singles before Jersey’s three-times National champion Elizabeth Cann came back from a game down to defeat Augustyn 4-21 21-4 21-9 in the women’s singles.

Poland wouldn’t lie down, however, and Logosz and Robert Mateusiak, the world No 10 pair, were too sharp and aggressive for a subdued Nathan Robertson (Notts) and Clark.

That made it 2-2 and it all hinged on the women’s doubles. Kellogg and Wallwork took the opener 21-12 but Augustyn and Kurdelska came back strongly in the second 21-17 before the England pair edged home 21-12 to put England into the final with Denmark at 2pm tomorrow.

A delighted Cann, who won the crucial singles point, revealed she was given a talking to by coach Yvette Yun Luo after losing the first game. “I wasn’t sticking to the tactics,” she said. “So she was just drumming it in. It worked, didn’t it!”

Head coach Ian Wright said: “We knew it would be a hard slog and it was. The Poles played well but we stuck at it. I am particularly pleased that some of our younger players stepped up to the plate which is what we wanted them to do in this tournament.

“I thought Jenny Wallwork was excellent and, of course, Donna Kellogg’s experience was vital.

“Now we are in with a chance of the gold and we have home advantage. It’s 1984 since we last won it and it’s time we reclaimed the title.”
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Denmark storm into European Team final

Denmark remain on course for their eighth successive European Team Championship title after a comfortable 3-0 win over sixth seeds Russia in the first semi-final at the Echo Arena in Liverpool this morning.

The Danes have now reached the European final 14 times in a row and look to record their 13th gold medal tomorrow when they will meet Team England or Poland.

Mixed doubles stars Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl set the tone for the session after a comfortable 21-13 21-16 win over Vitaly Durkin and Nina Vislova.

World Number 6 Joachim Persson then displayed why he is one of the world's top singles players with an excellent display of patience, agility and power to beat Ivan Sozonov 21-14 21-12 in the men's doubles.

This win for Persson showed he is back on form after his defeat to world number 103 Pablo Abian of Spain in the group stages. That defeat still stands as one of the upsets of the tournament.

It was then left to World No 1 Tine Rasmussen to wrap up the victory with a 21-18 21-7 win over a very resilient and gutsy opponent in Russia's Ella Diehl.

Rasmussen got off to a slow start and the first game could have gone either way, but Rasmussen showed why she is the worlds best at women's singles with a phenomenal second-game performance.

Coach Kenneth Jonassen would give no indication of the line-up for tomorrow's final, but with the clinical performance of his players in today's match, there is little reason for him to change much.

Denmark will play Team England or Poland in tomorrow's final, last year's runners-up hoping that home advantage will give them the edge as they aim to beat Poland and then overcome the Danes for the first time in these championships since 1984 in Preston.

Second semi-final (3pm): Team England v Poland.
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Friday, February 13, 2009

Team England beat Ukraine to reach semi-finals

TEAM ENGLAND are through to the semi-finals of the European Team Championships in Echo Arena, Liverpool.

Ian Wright's squad overcame the Ukraine 3-1 to earn a repeat semi-final with Poland, the team they beat 3-0 last year in Herning (Denmark).

The English pairing of Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork got the hosts off to a great start in the mixed doubles with a 21-9 21-14 win over Valeriy Atrashchenkov and Elena Prus.

World No. 21 Andrew Smith made it 2-0 with victory over Dmytro Zavadskyy 17-21 21-15 21-18 in 52 minutes.

Ukraine's only point of the match came as Larisa Griga beat a brave Elizabeth Cann. World No 22 Griga, who is 12 places above Cann in the world rankings, won 21-15 21-19 in an entertaining match.

However, any thoughts of a Ukrainian revival were put to bed as Chris Adcock and Robert Blair secured the third and decisive point for Team England after their 21-14 21-12 victory against the Ukrainian pair Valery Atrashchenkov and Vladislav Druzchenko in the men's doubles.

Victorious Blair, winning his 49th cap, was pleased with his team's performance and sees no reason why they can't progress to the final. He said: "We worked hard and came through tonight. I think we will be too strong for Poland tomorrow but they have some good male players."

The England team for the semi-final is:

Mixed doubles: Anthony Clark & Donna Kellogg, Men's singles: Andrew Smith, Women's singles: Elizabeth Cann, Men's doubles: Anthony Clark & Nathan Robertson, Women's doubles: Donna Kellogg & Jenny Wallwork.

In the other quarter-finals tonight fourth seeds Poland recorded a 3-1 victory over fifth seeds Netherlands and holders and 12-times winners Denmark were too strong for seventh seeds France, emerging 3-1 winners.

It was left to Russia to spring the one surprise, the sixth seeds coming from behind to defeat third seeds Germany 3-2.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Team England name beat Scots to reach last eight

TEAM ENGLAND booked their place in the quarter-finals of the European Team Championship at the Echo Arena in Liverpool tonight with a 4-1 win over Scotland.

The 2008 runners-up and second seeds, watched by Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, will now face eighth seeds Ukraine in the last eight tomorrow night.

The English pairing of Robert Blair and Gabrielle White got the Center Parcs supported home side off to the perfect start against Blair's former team-mates. In a match that lasted just under 30 minutes, the English mixed doubles duo had to work hard in the first game but finally defeated Watson Briggs and Imogen Bankier 22-20 21-11.

Bankier is Blair's mixed doubles partner on the international circuit but he said: "It wasn't too hard playing against Imogen, but it wasn't under normal circumstances. It's more difficult playing against your own country, it's a difficult situation.

"I have played with Gabby before, but we were a bit confused. There were things she may have expected me to do and things I expected her to do, but we didn't do it so we got in a bit of a muddle. The second set was quite comfortable and we got more used to each other's style of play".

Two-times English National champion Rajiv Ouseph had to work to overcome 19-year-old Kieran Merrilees 21-13 21-18 in the men's singles.

However, Scotland's Commonwealth bronze medallist Susan Hughes ensured that Dan Travers' team avoided a whitewash in an entertaining duel with England's Elizabeth Cann. Hughes, who beat Cann in their Melbourne play-off and also beat her in the Dunfermline Open in January, kept Cann on the back foot throughout the match and eventually ran out 21-12 15-21 21-17 victor.

Scotland continued to battle valiantly after they took a game off England's National champions Anthony Clark and Nathan Robertson but eventually went down 21-13 22-24 21-7.

In the other game in Group 8, Wales' Matthew Hughes received his 100th cap and marked the occasion in the men's doubles by winning 21-11 21-15 with partner Martyn Lewis. However, it was to be in vain as Wales lost the match 3-2 against the Czech Republic with Kristina Ludikova the standout performer for the Czechs.

Denmark did not hold back against Ireland in the final match of Group 1, winning 5-0. Ireland's Chloe Magee had game point early on against Nanna Brosolat Jensen but the Dane, ranked 46 in the world, rallied back to earn a 24-22 21-15 victory.

Germany ended their last round of group games in emphatic fashion after also securing a 5-0 whitewash against Sweden.

Despite some rigid Bulgarian resistance Poland successfully qualified from Group 6 and will now play Netherlands in the quarter finals tomorrow.

All eight seeds are through to the quarter-finals, starting at 6pm.

QUARTER-FINAL LINE-UP
(1) Denmark v (7) France
(3) Germany v (6) Russia
(4) Poland v (5) Netherlands
(2) England v (8) Ukraine
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Team England name team to face Scotland

TEAM ENGLAND head coach Ian Wright has named former Scotland international Robert Blair and Yorkshire's Gabby White for the mixed doubles in the Group 8 decider with the Scots at the European Team Championship at the Echo Arena in Liverpool tonight.

Edinburgh-born Blair wins his 48th England cap tonight as the second seeds look to book their quarter-final place and a likely clash with eighth seeds Ukraine tomorrow night.

Middlesex's Rajiv Ouseph and Jersey's Elizabeth Cann return for the singles duties against Scotland, taking over from Andrew Smith and the Wirral's Helen Davies, who made her home debut for England last night in the 5-0 win over the Czech Republic.

National champions Nathan Robertson and Anthony Clark (both Notts) will play the men's doubles while Jenny Wallwork will partner Donna Kellogg in the women's doubles.

Scotland's six-strong squad features Kieran Merrilees in men's singles, Susan Hughes in women's doubles, with Andrew Bowman and Watson Briggs and Imogen Bankier and Jillie Cooper handling the doubles duties.

Intriguingly Blair and Bankier are mixed doubles partners on the world circuit and are in the World's top 10.
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England win again to set up decider with Scotland

By DANIEL SMITH

Team England’s Andrew Smith and Helen Davies were clinical in setting up yet another victory for the hosts at the European Team Championship at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

England No 1 Smith (Hampshire) was ruthless against Wales’ Irwansyah in the men’s singles, outplaying his opponent 21-8 21-10.

Meanwhile the Wirral’s Davies was not to be outdone and also put in a superb performance winning 21-13 21-17 against Harriet Johnson.

The 22-year-old, watched by Mum Liz and Dad Phil (who was seeing her in action for the first time), admitted: “I was nervous at the start but my coach had told me that I had to attack her before she attacked me.

“It was a good learning experience and, of course, it’s always good to win.”

With England 2-0 up it was left 2004 European men’s doubles silver medallists Anthony Clark and Nathan Robertson (both Notts) to clinch the winning lead as they defeated Matthew Hughes and Martyn Lewis 21-12 21-5.

Jersey’s Mariana Agathangelou and Yorkshire’s Jenny Wallwork took the women’s doubles and Chris Adcock and Gabby White won the mixed doubles as England made it straight-games victories in all five matches.

Tomorrow night Team England, who are supported by Center Parcs, tackle the Group 8 decider against Scotland. They were in action against the Czech Republic on the adjacent court.

The Scots got off to a good start through Watson Briggs and Imogen Bankier, who beat Petr Koukal and Martina Benesova 21-10 24-22.

And when Kieran Merrilees took the first game against Jan Vondra in the men’s singles, the Scots’ tails were up.

But the 19-year-old could not resist Vondra’s strong fightback and he levelled the match 15-21 21-13 21-16.

However, Commonwealth bronze medallist Susan Hughes took charge of her match with Kristina Ludikova to put the Scots back in front after a 21-16 21-12 win and Briggs returned to the court with Andrew Bowman to win the men’s doubles against Vondra and Pavel Florian 21-10 22-20 to give Dan Travers’ team a winning lead.

It was then left to Bankier and Jillie Cooper to finish the job 21-14 21-16 against Ludikova and Benesova for a 4-1 win.

In Group 6 seventh seeds France were dealt a scare when they came up against a fired-up Portuguese outfit. The French were in good spirits after their first win however Portugal’s Pedro Martins was out to spoil the party in the men’s singles.
Martins’ determination, speed and energy proved to be the deciding factor against Brice Leverdez as he left the court with a deserved 21-19 11-21 21-13 win.

That levelled the scores after France won the opening mixed doubles. But Pi Hongyan put the French ahead and they never looked back as Baptiste Careme added a men’s doubles win to his mixed doubles victory and France then won the women’s doubles to make it 4-1.

Switzerland comprehensively defeated Cyprus 5-0 in the other Group 6 match.

The Netherlands’ Patty Stolzenbach showed no mercy for her opponent Mor Bitterman in their 5-0 win over Israel in Group 5.

Stolzenbach won 21-3 21-1 in the women’s singles in 12 minutes, the shortest match of the Championship, as Holland surged to a 4-0 lead before Israel snatched the last rubber through Misha and Svetlana Zilberman, who defeated Jorrit De Ruiter and Isle Vaessen 11-21 21-16 21-19.

In Group 5 Austria went down 4-1 to Belgium with Nathalie Descamps leading the way with a mixed doubles and a women’s singles win.
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