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

January 19, 1997 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Denmark has once again confirmed its position as one of the top nations in men's singles in the sport of badminton when Peter Rasmussen lifted the five-star Japan Open crown in today's championship match at Yoyogi Stadium in Tokyo.

Last week in Taipei, another Danish player, Peter Gade-Christensen, won the Taipei Open, also a five-star rated event, in an all-Danish final over Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen, himself a top men's singles exponent with an Olympic gold medal and two prestigious All-England championships to his credit.

Finals action at the Japan Open saw China's Olympic women's doubles gold medal holders, Ge Fei and Gu Jun, affirm their long-standing supremacy over Eliza Nathanael and Resiana Zelin of Indonesia. The second-seeded Ge and Gu, though, encountered stiff opposition from the top-seeded Indonesians initially. In the first game, Eliza and Zelin kept Ge and Gu pinned to the backcourt with deep clears, lifts and blocks. This neutralized the strong attack of Ge and Gu and enabled the Indonesians to score on any weak replies. Ge and Gu dropped the first 12-15.

In the second game, the Indonesians played the same way and gained an 11-6 advantage. Zelin then made several errors and poor shots as she rushed her play to try and win the match in two games. This allowed the Chinese women to catch up and then to win at 15-12.

In the third, it was one-sided as Ge and Gu combined effective smash attacks, net kills and good defense to overwhelm a now demoralized Eliza and Zelin 15-1.

The victory by Ge and Gu was their seventeenth consecutive win over Eliza and Zelin against only one loss, that one happening in 1993.

In women's singles, Mia Audina of Indonesia, the top seed, defeated second seed Gong Zhichao of China.

The match started out like it would be the one-sided affair that many knowledgeable badminton observers had predicted. Audina took the first game with ease. Using her acrobatic jumpsmashes and round-the-head shots combined with deep clears and very tight dropshots and netshots, she powered her way to an 11-3 win.

However, in the second game, Audina seemed to tire and became unfocused in her play. She was erratic and was unable to return Gong's angled shots specially those to her right. She fell quickly behind 2-9. At this point, she seemed to opt not to exert herself further in the game. She hit two shots out of the court to give Gong the second game, 2-11.

After the five-minute break, Audina bore down again on Gong with her power game and beat the Chinese player 11-5 to claim her second major badminton title.

The men's singles championship match between the unseeded Peter Rasmussen of Denmark and 9-16 seed Park Sung Woo of Korea was very one-sided. The Danish player jumpsmashed and attacked Park throughout the match. Park, a silver medalist at the 1995 world championships, seemed tired after yesterday's three-game semifinal against another Dane, Peter Gade-Christensen. He could not muster any defense against Rasmussen's aggressive tactics and was unable to mount any sustained attack. Rasmussen won with unexpected ease 15-3 and 15-1.

The championship is Rasmussen's first major badminton title and is a prestigious one, the Japan Open being regarded as the Asian version of the venerable All-England Open. It is also the first Japan Open men's singles title for Denmark since the great Morten Frost won it in 1990.

In the mixed doubles finals, Ge Fei won a second 1997 Japan Open title when she teamed up with compatriot Liu Yong to beat Jens Eriksen and Marlene Thomsen of Denmark. Liu and Ge, unseeded in this tourney, beat the 5-8 seeded Danes 15-8 and 15-10.

The win was the fourth upset in a row for the unseeded Liu and Ge. They had accounted for 3-4 seeds Flandy and Riseu (Indonesia) in the round-of-16, 5-8 seeds Lee and Park (Korea) in the quarterfinals, and second-seeds Sogaard and Olsen (Denmark) in the semifinals.

In an all-Indonesian men's doubles championship match, Olympic champions Ricky Subagja and Rexy Mainaky defeated Olympic bronze medalists Antonius Iriantho and Denny Kantono 15-11, 7-15 and 15-7.

The victory is the third Japan Open championship for Ricky and Rexy as a pair, and the fourth for Ricky, having won it also in 1994 with Denny Kantono as his partner.