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COMMONWEALTH GAMES: UNDERDOGS WIN THREE THRILLERS
September 19, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - It was a great day for the underdogs
at the individual badminton competition of the 1998 Commonwealth Games being
staged in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Three under-rated entries, Aparna Popat of
India, Chor Hooi Yee and Lim Pek Siah of Malaysia, and Nathan Robertson and
Joanne Davies of England, posted upset victories over their highly-seeded
opponents in the semifinal round today to guarantee themselves of at least a
Popat had the most sensational victory. She beat second seed Julia Mann of
England in one of the women's singles semifinals 11-8, 12-13 and 13-11.
After winning a close first game 11-8 with good attacking play, Popat had
victory in hand in a very hotly contested second with match point at 12-10.
The English lady determinedly fought off Popat and used good defense and deep
clears to keep Popat at bay. Mann's tactics paid off for her when the youthful
Indian made several errors that gave Mann the second set at 13-12.
The close second set loss seemed to have unsettled Popat. She fell behind 3-4
in the decider and then was quickly on the brink of defeat 3-10. She saved a
match point when Mann misjudged a Popat clear and allowed it to land. Popat
saved match points four more times as she staged a 7-point comeback. Finally,
she pulled even with Mann at 10-all and forced a tiebreak.
Popat's play was back in top gear and she took the setting 13-11 to become
the first Indian woman to qualify for a Commonwealth Games badminton final.
Popat will face top seed Kelly Morgan of Wales in tomorrow's championship
match. Morgan defeated Tracey Hallam of England 11-6 and 11-4 in her half of
Malaysians Chor Hooi Yee and Lim Pek Siah gave the home crowd plenty to cheer
about in their women's doubles semifinal match against the third-seeded Kiwis
Tammy Jenkins and Rhona Robertson. Chor and Lim, who had upended the second
seeded pair of Rhonda Cator and Amanda Hardy of Australia yesterday in a three
setter 14-17, 15-4 and 15-9, did not disappoint the full house. With the
Malaysian audience screaming "Malaysia Boleh", Chor and Lim posted another
thriller upset, defeating Jenkins and Robertson 15-8, 4-15 and 15-9.
At the start of the first game, the Malaysian game was flat. The Kiwi attack
gained Jenkins and Robertson an early 4-1 lead. Chor and Lim pulled even at
4-all but again the Kiwis moved ahead 8-5. Once more the Malaysians came back
to tie at 8-8 and then got the lead for good to win at 15-8.
In the second game, the Kiwis mixed up their shots and hit more often to the
Malaysian backcourt with lobs and lifts. Chor and Lim were often caught out
with the Kiwi shot placement and gifted Jenkins and Robertson scores on
errors or misjudged shots. The Kiwis took the second 15-4.
The first half of the decider was closely fought with the Malaysians and the
New Zealanders tied at 6-all, 7-all and 8-all. The Malaysian attack then began
to click. With Chor at the back court and with Lim controlling the net area
with tight net shots and crosscourters, the Malaysian duo pulled away and won
Chor and Lim will face top seeds Joanne Goode and Donna Kellogg of England in
the championship match. Goode and Kellogg defeated Elinor Middlemiss and
Sandra Watt of Scotland 15-7 and 15-3 in their semifinal match.
The unseeded mixed doubles pairing of Nathan Robertson and Joanne Davies of
England posted the third upset in semifinal play today. Robertson and Davies
beat their second-seeded teammates Chris Hunt and Donna Kellogg in another
thriller that featured tiebreaks in the second and third games. The underdogs
squeezed past Hunt and Kellogg 7-15, 17-15 and 17-14.
Top seeds Simon Archer and Joanne Kellogg eliminated Aussies Peter Blackburn
and Rhonda Cator 15-10 amd 15-4 in the other mixed doubles semifinal.
In the men's singles quarterfinals, second seed Yong Hock Kin of Malaysia
put out Scotland's Bruce Flockhart 15-5 and 15-6. Teammate Wong Choon Hann,
the third seed, wallopped Mark Constable of England 15-3 and 15-1. India's
Pullela Gopi Chand beat John Leung of Wales 15-1 and 15-6, and England's
Darren Hall defeated Nick Hall of New Zealand 15-13 and 15-12.
Yong will play Hall and Wong will face Gopi Chand in tomorrow's semifinals.
In the men's doubles quarters, top seeds Chris Hunt and Simon Archer of
England disposed of Indians Markose Bristow and George Thomas 15-7 and 15-3,
second seeds Cheah Soon Kit and Yap Kim Hock beat Canada's Mike Beres and
Bryan Moody 15-5 and 15-3, third seeds Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah of
Malaysia defeated David Bamford and Peter Blackburn of Australia 15-4 and
15-8, and fourth seeds Julian Robertson and Nathan Robertson of England
eliminated Jaseel Ismail and Vincent Lobo of India 15-3 and 15-4.
The men's doubles semifinals will feature two England-versus-Malaysia
contests. Archer and Hunt will play Choong and Lee. The Robertsons will battle
Cheah and Yap.
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