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U.S. Open: Thundering Dane Strikes Gold Twice

** This NEW SHUTTLENWS report is presented by YANG YANG Badminton Products and their Ontario (Canada) agents - SHAH Enterprises **

September 12, 1999 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Jonas Rasmussen of Denmark thundered his way to two badminton World Grand Prix circuit titles yesterday at the U.S. Open championships in Orange, California. In the championship matches held last evening, Rasmussen and partner Jane Bramsen, also from Denmark, won the mixed doubles crown. Rasmussen also captured the men's doubles title with teammate Michael Lamp.

In the mixed doubles final, Rasmussen and Bramsen defeated Rasmussen's men's doubles partner Lamp and Pernille Harder, still another Dane 15-3 and 15-10, while in the men's doubles title match, Rasmussen and Lamp beat James Anderson and Graham Hurrel of England 15-10 and 15-13.

Pi Hongyan of China, playing in her first World Grand Prix circuit tournament, took the women's singles title, upending her more experienced teammate Wu Huimin 11-8 and 11-3 in the final. Another entry from China won the women's doubles crown. Huang Nanyan and Lu Ying trounced Robbyn Hermitage and Milaine Cloutier of Canada 15-4 and 15-9 in the championship contest.

Colin Houghton of England captured the men's singles title. Houghton, the top seed in the event, defeated Nikhil Kanetkar of India in the final 15-6 and 15-0.

The opening set of the mixed doubles final was one-sided in favor of Rasmussen and Bramsen. With Rasmussen thundering down smashes and Bramsen covering the net areas and at times powering shots from the rearcourt herself, they whipped Lamp and Harder 15-3.

Rasmussen and Bramsen continued to dominate early in the second and quickly gained a 4-1 edge. Lamp stepped up his play but Rasmussen and Bramsen were able to hold on to their advantage at 6-3 when a frustrated Harder could not get her crosscourt net shot attempt over the twine. Harder was so upset by her mistake and inability to cope with the other pair's play that she struck the net vigorously

Lamp's powershots and several mistakes by Bramsen and Rasmussen helped the Lamp-Harder duo to catch up at 7-all and to even go ahead 9-7, but their lead was short-lived. Rasmussen stepped up the pressure with his smash attack and his side was soon ahead at 11-10 when Lamp's block of a round-the-head smash from Rasmussen sent the shuttle flying out of bounds.

Rasmussen and Bramsen then went on to score the final four points to take the set at 15-10.

In the women's singles final, Wu Huimin stormed to an early 6-1 lead. Pi who was playing in her first Grand Prix title contest finally shook off her nervousness and industriously run down and sent back shot after shot from Wu. Pi's retrieving and net play took her to a 6-all score. From there, she went on to take the first set 11-8 as Wu's game collapsed in a spate of mistakes.

Pi continued her excellent play in the second and raced to a 6-1 edge as she was able to force Wu into mistakes with her marvelous retrieving. Despite her trying and many good rallies to stop Pi from scoring, Wu never got back into the contest and could only muster a measly three points in the set.

In the men's singles title match, Houghton took control early despite some good jumpsmashing by the lefthander Kanetkar. The English player gained a huge 11-2 lead before Kanetkar strung several points on a round-the-head crosscourt dropshot and several mistakes by Houghton. The Indian though was no match for Houghton in the longer rallies and he would often make the rally-ending mistake.

With Houghton ahead at 13-6, the two played one such swirling rally and Kanetkar ended the exchange with a backhand drive that was called out. On the next rally, with Houghton at game point, the two once again exchanged shots and moved each other from corner to corner. Houghton was able to maneuver an off-balance Kanetkar into the Indian's forehand rear corner. Kanetkar struck a loose half-drive and Houghton pounced on the shuttle with a winning killshot to Kanetkar's backhand rear corner.

Kanetkar started the second set with energy. He quickly combined jumpsmashes and a drop to take the serve. However, he was unable to score on his turn. It was Houghton who broke the ice first and scored when Kanetkar's shot was called wide. Kanetkar was surprised by the call as were those in the audience who were behind the line judge who made the call.

The line official's decision seemed to unsettle the Indian. He also seemed to have lost his energy. He made error after error and soon Houghton was at championship point 14-0. Kanetkar stopped Houghton at match point again and again and again, but could not score when he had the serve. After many scoreless service rotations, Kanetkar finally broke and made his last mistake, sending the shuttle into the net on Houghton's off-speed drive and giving the English player the U.S. Open men's singles title.

In the men's doubles final, the Danes Rasmussen and Lamp combined thundering attacking shots and excellent defending to take a commanding 12-3 advantage in the opening set. Anderson and Hurrel then began to find the kinks in the Danish smash defense and they closed the gap somewhat at 13-7. Rasmussen then jumpsmashed to put his side at game point 14-7.

Anderson and Hurrel bore down and clawed back three more points to stand at 14-10. The English though were not able to hold off the Danes much longer with Hurrel sending a crosscourt block wide to gift the Danes with the game winner.

In the second set, the Danes once again got the upper hand at 8-2 before Anderson and Hurrel got their attack in gear. The English began to concentrate their smashes and drives on Lamp, the taller of the two Danes. The tactic paid off as Lamp's defense would break down after successive shots. The English climbed back into contention at 10-all with point number 10 coming on a Lamp service return mistake.

Anderson and Hurrel grabbed the lead at 12-11 on a drive shot by Hurrel at Lamp. Anderson increased their advantage to 13-11 when he ended an English attack with a smash at Lamp.

The Danes took the service back and scored when they were able to turn back a strong English attack thanks to a sensational no-look behind-the-back drive block by Rasmussen. The shot surprised the English players and they struck a poor reply that Lamp drove back from the net.

The next exchange was another great swirling rally of attack and defense. Rasmussen struck a deceptive crosscourt dropshot. Anderson dove to retrieve the shuttle and reached it an inch maybe two before it would have landed. He flicked it back but Lamp was there, ready. The tall Dane smashed the shuttle crosscourt to tie the set up at 13-all.

The Danes reached championship point on good defending against a furious English smash attack with Lamp ending the rally with a driving block to the sideline. Anderson and Hurrel fought off the Danes at championship point, but a surprise backhand smash from Lamp took away the English first serve and a snap backhand drophot mistake from Anderson took away the second.

Rasmussen once again served for the title. Anderson was the receiver. The Dane flick-served. Anderson leaped backwards and smashed the shuttle at Rasmussen. The Dane hit a reflex flat block towards the sideline. Anderson was still off-balance from his smash return and Hurrel was guarding the midcourt. The shuttle landed in the open space out of the reach of either English player for the winner. Rasmussen had his second U.S. Open championship of the day.


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