by Martin Coe and Mike Grossman
(from a report filed by YANG YANG BADMINTON SHUTTLES)

January 18, 1997 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Peter Gade-Christensen's run at a second consecutive major badminton tournament title ended today in a Japan Open men's singles semifinal match against Park Sung Woo of Korea. Park defeated Gade, the young Danish player who surprised many by taking the Taipei Open crown last week, in three games.

The 9-16 seeded Park took a cue from yesterday's three-game semifinal between Gade and Budi Santoso of Indonesia, and played the Dane, also seeded 9-16, with a slow, deliberate defensive style with deep lifts and clears as well as many long and tiring rallies.

Gade though had the energy in the first game to rally with Park and to occasionally quicken the tempo with attacking play. He took the first game 18-13.

In the second and third games, Gade looked progressively spent as Park maintained his tactic of long rallies with bursts of attacking play whenever Gade gave him an opening. Park took the second 15-10 and the third 15-5.

The Danes, though, were not to be shut out of the men's singles finals. Peter Rasmussen defeated Ardy Wiranata of Indonesia in a quick 34-minute semifinal matchup of unseeded top-rated players who are both making a comeback after severe injury (Rasmussen) or serious illness (Wiranata).

Rasmussen played his attacking, jumpsmashing style of singles that is unusual for a European. He was all over Wiranata from the opening serve and did not let the Indonesian, a three-time Japan Open champion, into the match.

In the first game, Rasmussen kept up barrage after barrage of smash attacks at Wiranata. The Indonesian tried to defend but was a step too slow today. Rasmussen ran away with the first game 15-2.

In the second game, Rasmussen continued his attacking play and Wiranata continued to play defensively. Wiranata did manage to tally more points in the second but this was mainly due to Rasmussen's attacking errors. Rasmussen took the second 15-5.

After the match, Wiranata commented that he did not have the stamina and the strength today to contend with Rasmussen and that the previous matches had worn him down.

In women's singles semifinal action, top-seed Mia Audina of Indonesia defeated world champion Ye Zhaoying of China, seeded 3-4 here. Audina mixed up her strong attacking style with clears, lifts, tape-ticking crosscourt dropshots and extra-tight net shots to move Ye around the court and to force her into many poor returns or outright errors.

Audina opened up the first game with fast, low clears that Ye was able to attack. The Indonesian girl then varied her play with crosscourt drops and nets that the tallish Ye had to stretch and bend to return, causing her to hit a poor shot or to stroke the shuttle into the net. The first game went to setting at 9-all with Audina scoring all three points in the tiebreak to win 12-9.

In the second, Audina kept up the tactic of moving Ye around the court. She played error-free badminton while Ye made error after error as she tried to force the action. Audina took the second 11-6.

In the other women's singles semifinal, second-seed Gong Zhichao of China and 3-4 seed Camilla Martin of Denmark split the first two games with Gong winning a tight first set 12-11 and Martin taking the second 11-6.

The Danish girl though looked spent, specially in the third. She also suffered a slight injury to her back when she went the wrong way on a deceptive shot by Gong and had to twist and reverse direction abruptly.

With Martin's energy reserves and full-court coverage gone, Gong had an easy third game, winning at 11-2.

In men's doubles, top-seeds Ricky Subagja and Rexy Mainaky of Indonesia won their semifinal match against the 5-8 seeds from Denmark, Thomas Lund and Jon Holst-Christensen. The Indonesian pair beat the Danes 15-4 and 15-9.

In the other men's doubles semifinal, 3-4 seeds Antonius Iriantho and Denny Kantono of Indonesia disposed of archrivals Cheah Soon Kit and Yap Kim Hock of Malaysia, 15-11 and 15-6.

Iriantho and Kantono were in excellent form today against Cheah and Yap. The Indonesian pair defended well against the usually devastating Malaysian smash attack, and Cheah, reputedly the owner of one of the fastest and most powerful smashes among today's elite players, had great difficulty putting the shuttle on the floor against the Indonesian defense.

The Malaysian duo was also slower than usual in anticipating and reading the Indonesian attack today, specially the veteran Cheah, who turned 29 on January 9.

In women's doubles semifinal action, top-seeds Eliza Nathanael and Resiana Zelin of Indonesia defeated the 3-4 seeds, Tang Yongshu and Qin Yiyuan of China, 8-15, 15-7 and 15-9, while second-seeds Ge Fei and Gu Jun of China, the Olympic gold medal winners, disposed of the other 3-4 seeds, Marlene Thomsen and Lisbet Stuer-Lauridsen of Denmark, 15-10 and 15-4.

In mixed doubles, the unseeded Chinese pair of Liu Yong and Ge Fei continued on their run of upsets. They defeated the second-seeds Michael Sogaard and Rikke Olsen of Denmark in today's semifinals 15-12 and 17-15.

In the other mixed doubles semifinal, 5-8 seeds Jens Eriksen and Marlene Thomsen also continued their winning streak, beating the 3-4 seeds Chen Xingdong and Peng Xingyong of China 15-6 and 15-11.