by Mike Grossman

** This NEW SHUTTLENWS report is sponsored by YANG YANG BADMINTON EQUIPMENT and their UK agents, SUNRISE SPORTS (07050-182838/fax:07050-183838). **

March 15, 1997 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Players from China took four of the five championships at stake in today's finals of the All-England Open badminton tournament in Birmingham. Badminton powers Indonesia and Denmark were shut out of the titles, with Korea taking the men's doubles crown.

Women's doubles top-seeds Ge Fei and Gu Jun started things off for the triumphant Chinese when they asserted their mastery over the second seeded Indonesian pair of Eliza Nathanael and Resiana Zelin 15-6 and 15-9.

Ge Fei and Gu Jun were in control for most of the match, except for the early part of the second game when the Indonesians took a short-lived lead at 6-2. The Chinese pair were most effective with Gu smashing or creating surprise crosscourt shots from the backcourt and with Ge at the net, killing loose Indonesian shots.

Dong Jiong followed with a 15-9, 15-5 win over teammate Sun Jun in the men's singles final. Sun was only in the thick of the fight in the first game when he matched Dong point for point early on at 3-all and also when he caught up to Dong at 9-all on a crosscourt clip drop shot. Other than these moments, Dong, with his mobility and deceptive jumping strokes, was altogether too fast and powerful for Sun to contain.

In the second game, Dong zoomed to a 5-0 lead and then let up to allow Sun some points. Leading at 12-5, Dong suffered a nasty slip as he lunged to block a Sun smash. Dong was all business afterwards and closed out the match with a crosscourt smash to get the service back, a round-the-head drop shot error into the net to surrender the serve, a brush kill shot at the net to get the service back again, a down-the-line smash to get to 13-5, a rally to induce Sun into a wide attacking clear for match point, and then a final smash.

Koreans Ha Tae Kwon and Kang Kyung Jin then won the men's doubles title, beating Jon Holst-Christensen and Michael Sogaard of Denmark in a battle of excellent smashers and smash-defenders. Ha's height and Kang's high jumping let the Koreans gain control of the first game early 5-0. The Danes never recovered from the poor start and the Koreans took the first 15-11.

In the second, the Koreans again took an early 4-0 lead but the gritty pair of Holst and Sogaard buckled down and caught up at 6-6. The Danes took the lead as the Koreans committed a series of errors including a called fault for killing a shuttle before it had crossed the net.

Holst and Sogaard upped their lead and reached game point 14-10 on an error by Ha. The Koreans though held their ground and saved game point when Ha rushed a Sogaard serve and drove a shot into Holst. Ha saved a second game point with a drive block that ticked the top of the net and eluded a diving Holst.

The Koreans crept back and got to 14-all. In the setting, the Danes again reached game point at 2-0 (16-14). The Koreans saved game point with a Kang smash into Sogaard's body, and then reached match point themselves on two forced errors by Holst. Kang then scored the winner with a running and then leaping midcourt kill shot crosscourt to Sogaard.

In the women's singles final that followed, Ye Zhaoying took the third title for China although this one was a certain bet since it was an all-China final. Ye overwhelmed teammate Gong Zhichao 11-1 and 11-3. Ye was so dominant that she could easily have won 11-1, 11-0 had she not coasted in the second after gaining an unassailable 7-0 lead.

Liu Yong and Ge Fei took the fourth title for the rampant Chinese when they dismantled the top-seeded pair of Tri Kusheryanto and Minarti Timur of Indonesia 15-10 and 15-2.

At the outset, it looked like the match would be Indonesia's to win when they raced to a 4-0 lead on Timur's opening series of serves as the Chinese nervously committed successive errors. Ge settled down and took the serve with a touch crosscourt return of a Timur service.

The Chinese caught up and passed the Indonesians with Liu smashing and covering most of the Chinese court and with Ge guarding the net area. Liu scored the game winner 15-10 with a rushing net kill after he had pressured Kusheryanto and Timur with a series of smashes.

The second was dominated by Liu and Ge with the Indonesians never really getting into the thick of the fight. This time, it was Ge who scored the winner when she pounded a net kill to Timur who then blocked the shuttle wide.

(More details of each of the 5 finals matches can be found in the following special reports unique and exclusive to New Shuttlenws.)