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May 21, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - European champion Denmark upended tournament favourite China 3 matches to 2 in a sensational, nail-biting tie last night at the world men's team championships of badminton - the Thomas Cup Finals - at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Hong Kong. Denmark's win put them into the semifinals on Friday in the winner's slot in Group A against Group B runnerup Malaysia, while China has to take on defending champion and Group B winner Indonesia.

Indonesia laid claim to the Group B pennant earlier yesterday when they beat Malaysia 4 matches to 1.

Denmark's upset victory over China came in the third game of the final match in the best-of-five tie when Danish rookie Kenneth Jonassen came back from a second game letdown to defeat Dong Jiong 15-8.

Danish number one Peter Gade staked his side to the early lead when he easily outplayed Sun Jun 15-3 in the first game and then held on to a 17-16 victory in a very closely fought second set.

The Chinese equalized with a surprise victory in the first doubles. Liu Yong and the lesser-known Yu Jinhao combined to beat Jon Holst and Michael Sogaard 18-16 and 15-11. The Chinese pair overhauled a 13-10 Danish lead in the first set with sensational net play, excellent defense and some good smashing.

In the second singles, Poul-Erik Hoyer was on the verge of putting Denmark back in the lead. He beat Luo Yigang in the first in untroubled fashion 15-6 and had a match point on Luo in the second. Luo fought back and managed to grab the second set from Hoyer 17-16. Luo's good play continued in the decider and he defeated Hoyer 15-10, his winning point coming on a very deceptive lift that completely fooled the Dane.

China was now ahead 2 matches to 1.

In the second doubles, Zhang Jun and Zhang Wei romped over Jens Eriksen and Jesper Larsen in the opening set 15-2 and looked set to clinch the top spot in Group B for China. However, Eriksen and Larsen battled back and took the next game in a tiebreak 18-15. The two Zhangs bore down in the decider and had match point on the Danes but Eriksen and Larsen were able to put a stop on the Chinese pair. Eriksen and Larsen then went on to force deuce and to take the third game with sensational play 17-14.

The Danish win in the second doubles put the outcome of the tie in the result of the third singles. The Danes had chosen to field Kenneth Jonassen instead of the world champion Peter Rasmussen who is still nursing an ankle injury. The selection paid off for Denmark. The rookie beat a slow-starting Dong Jiong in the first game 15-6, and after a severe letdown in the second set when he lost badly at 2-15, he posted the victory for Denmark with a 15-8 scoreline in the third game.

In the Indonesia-Malaysia Group B tie played in the afternoon session, Malaysia did not field top singles player Ong Ewe Hock and top doubles player Yap Kim Hock. They had already qualified for the semifinals and chose to rest Ong for the next stage. They also chose to allow Yap who was suffering from pain in his hitting (left) shoulder some time off to get better.

Indonesia also chose to rest top singles player Heryanto Arbi who is prone to dehydration and cramping.

With Malaysia missing Ong and Yap and fielding two untested doubles pairs against an Olympic champion tandem and a world champion duo, the Indonesians predictably took a 4 matches to 1 decision.

Hendrawan beat Yong Hock Kin 9-15, 15-7 and 15-2. Ricky Subagja and Rexy Mainaky beat Cheah Soon Kit and Choong Tan Fook 15-7 and 15-13. After the Indonesians had slight hiccup when Marleve Mainaky lost to Roslin Hashim 11-15 and 6-15, Chandra Wijaya and Budiarto Sigit put the outcome beyond doubt with a 15-6 and 15-7 win over Lee Wan Wah and Tan Kim Her. Indra Wijaya then closed with a 15-10 and 15-10 victory over Wong Choon Hann.

In the other Group B tie yesterday afternoon, the Koreans who have lost their top singles players due to retirement or mandatory military service barely beat the Netherlands 3-2, while in the other Group A tie played last night, Sweden defeated Hong Kong 4-1.

The scorelines in the Korea-Netherlands and Sweden-Hong Kong ties:

Korea vs Netherlands
Korea 3 Netherlands 2 (Korean names first)
Hwang Sun Ho lost to Jeroen Van Dijk 15-3, 6-15, 5-15; Yoo Yung Sung/Lee Dong Soo beat Quinten Van Dalm/Dennis Lens 15-5, 15-9; Jang Chun WOng lost to Dicky Palyama 13-15, 9-15; Ha Tae Kwon/kang Kyung Jin beat Norbert Van Barneveld/ Joris Van Soerland 15-6, 15-9; Ahn Jae Chang beat Gerben Bruijstens 15-7, 15-10

Sweden vs Hong Kong
Sweden 4 Hong Kong 1 (Swedish names first)

Thomas Johansson beat Tam Kai Chuen 15-8, 15-10; Frederik Bergstrom/Henrik Andersson lost to Liu Kwok Wa/Ma Che Kong 17-14, 11-15, 4-15; Rikard Magnusson beat Ng Wei 9-15, 15-4, 15-8; Henrik Bengtsson/Jens Olsson beat Yau Kwun Yuen/ Chow Kin Man 15-7, 17-16; Daniel Eriksson beat Liu Kwok Wa 13-15, 15-9, 15-6