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April 23, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Players from badminton powerhouse Denmark grabbed seven of the eight semifinal places in the men's and women's singles events at the European individual badminton championships now underway in Sofia, Bulgaria. Only tiny Wales in the person of Kelly Morgan was able to stop a Danish sweep of the singles medals at the continental championships.

In men's singles, world number two Peter Gade, Olympic champion Poul-Erik Hoyer, world champion Peter Rasmussen, and up-and-comer Kenneth Jonassen all won their quarterfinal matches today and guaranteed that a Dane will hold the European men's singles title for still another two years.

Gade defeated Sweden's Daniel Eriksson 15-7 and 15-4, while Hoyer disposed of German Oliver Pongratz 15-6 and 15-9. Hoyer had a typical slow start against Pongratz. He trailed 0-6 in the first before he got his touch. He then proceeded to blank the German player and won the opener 15-6. In the second, the Olympic champion fell behind Pongratz 5-9 before he again managed to get his game together and scored 10 points against the German's none to win the match.

World champion Rasmussen also started slowly against the inspired Mark Constable of England. Rasmussen, in his first tournament after a 10-week injury layoff, was outplayed by the youthful English player in the first game and lost it 3-15. For a while in the second, it seemed as if Constable might be able to pull off a great upset, but Rasmussen's shotmaking improved as the match wore on. He was able to gain the advantage over Constable with sliced smashes and drops, and he took the second set 15-9. In the decider, Rasmussen overwhelmed Constable 15-1 as the English lad tired and also suffered a pulled abdominal muscle.

Jonassen, the Danish number five behind Gade, Hoyer, Rasmussen and the absent Stuer, had to struggle against the lanky Thomas Johansson of Sweden. It took Jonassen a game and a half to find the right shots against the tall and experienced Swede, a silver medal winner 4 years ago. The young Dane dropped the first game 5-15 and then recovered to win the next two 15-11 and 15-5.

Gade will play Rasmussen and Hoyer is matched against Jonassen in tomorrow's semifinals.

In women's singles, top-seed Camilla Martin breezed past Margit Borg of Sweden 11-2 and 11-0, despite a sore right shoulder. The second-seeded Mette Pedersen easily disposed of Brenda Beenhakker of the Netherlands 11-4 and 11-2, while teammate Mette Sorensen eliminated another Dutch player, Judith Meulendijks, a joint third seed, 11-4 and 11-3.

Kelly Morgan of Wales took the other semifinal spot and assured herself and Wales of at least a bronze medal. She beat Katarzyna Krasowska of Poland 11-5 and 11-4.

In tomorrow's semifinals, Martin plays Sorensen, and Pedersen plays Morgan.

In men's doubles, top-seeds Jon Holst-Christensen and Michael Sogaard of Denmark were joined by two English pairs and one Swedish combination in the semifinals.

Holst and Sogaard defeated Germans Michael Keck and Christian Mohr in today's quarterfinals 15-7 and 15-6. Second seeds Peter Axelsson and Par-Gunnar Jonsson of Sweden beat Nikolai Zuev and Sergei Melnikov of Russia 15-5 and 15-3. Joint third seeds Simon Archer and Chris Hunt of England put out Quinten van Dalm and Dennis Lens of the Netherlands 15-5 and 15-3, and their teammates Julian Robertson and Nathan Robertson upended Denmark's Jim Laugesen and Thomas Stavngaard 18-17, 12-15 and 15-7.

Holst and Sogaard will play Archer and Hunt in the semifinals. Robertson and Robertson will face Axelsson and Jonsson.

In the women's doubles quarterfinals, Rikke Olsen and Marlene Thomsen of Denmark defeated Nicole Pitro and Anneke Sietz of Germany 15-11 and 15-3, Joanne Goode and Donna Kellogg of England beat Ella Karachkova and Irina Yakusheva of Russia 15-12 and 15-6, Erica van den Heuvel and Monique Hoogland of the Netherlands put out Elena Nozdran and Victoria Evtoushenko of the Ukraine 15-6 and 15-4, and Denmark's Ann Jorgensen and Majken Vange eliminated Karen Stechmann and Kerstin Ubben of Germany 15-9 and 15-11.

In tomorrow's semifinals, Olsen and Thomsen will battle Goode and Kellogg, while Jorgensen and Vange will be pitted against van den Heuvel and Hoogland.

In mixed doubles, the Danish pairs of Sogaard and Olsen, and Eriksen and Thomsen, the English combination of Archer and Goode, the German-Dutch tandem of Keck and van den Heuvel, and the all-Dutch pairing of van Dalm and van Hooren are among the eight entries that have booked places in tomorrow's quarterfinals.