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Grand Prix Finals: Three Top Picks Upended in Semis

** This NEW SHUTTLENWS report is presented by YANG YANG Badminton Products and their Western USA agents BADMINTON ALLEY. **

February 27, 1999 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Three of the top-seeded entries at the World Grand Prix Finals of badminton being held this week in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei were eliminated in today's semifinal action. World women's singles champion Ye Zhaoying of China went down in a stunning upset. Ye, who is also the defending Grand Prix Finals champion, lost to teammate Zhang Ning 5-11, 11-8 and 8-11. Olympic men's doubles titleists Rexy Mainaky and Ricky Subagja of Indonesia were defeated by their teammates Denny Kantono and Antonius Budi Ariantho 11-15 and 12-15. Mixed doubles world number ones Michael Sogaard and Rikke Olsen fell to England's Simon Archer and Joanne Goode 9-15, 15-13 and 11-15.

Two of the second seeds were also upset victims. Women's singles world number two Gong Zhichao of China was beaten by teammate Dai Yun 0-11 and 6-11, and the mixed doubles world number twos Trikus Heryanto and Minarti Timur were humbled by Kim Dong Moon and Ra Kyung Min of Korea 7-15 and 4-15.

In Ye's match with Zhang, the world champion played poorly in the opening game. She was specially vulnerable to angled smashes to her backhand sideline. Zhang started off quicky, racing to a 7-1 lead and winning handily at 11-5.

In the second game, Zhang got a small lead at 2-0 but Ye pulled even on Zhang miscues. At 4-all, the two got into a series of scoreless service turns. Ye then took a small lead at 6-4 on Zhang errors, but Zhang recovered and took the lead back at 7-6 and then 8-6.

Ye came back, scoring her seventh with a surprise smash to Zhang's body and then tying the score at 8-all when Zhang hit a dropshot wide. Ye then went on to win the second at 11-8.

In the decider, Ye was in full gear while Zhang was a step slower. The world champion raced to a seemingly unsurmountable 7-0 lead. Zhang then got her game going. She scored on a crosscourt net shot that surprised Ye, then a crosscourt block and then a soft block that just barely went over the net.

Ye gifted Zhang with another point when she went for a tricky and deceptive net shot which she sent into the net.

The two were stuck at 7-4 for several service turns. It was the world champion who got unstuck first and moved to an 8-4 lead. Zhang though came back as Ye began to make more mistakes. Zhang caught up at 8-all when she sent a block crosscourt and Ye was not able to reach the shuttle in time.

Zhang then scored three times more to beat Ye with the match winner coming when Ye tried for a very tight net tumbler and found the net.

In the Mainaky-Subagja versus Kantono-Antonius match, the Olympic champions had a difficult time getting through their opponents' defenses. Kantono and Antonius often were able to turn the Mainaky-Subagja attack into scoring chances. Mainaky also seemed slower specially in the early moments.

In another development, the International Badminton Federation is reportedly considering fining Michael Sogaard and Rikke Olsen of Denmark and Kim Dong Moon and Ra Kyung Min of Korea for non-competitive play yesterday during the last day of the round-robin stage. The two pairs were vying for the top spot in Group A but neither team was reportedly playing to win. Both teams were said to be trying to avoid having to play the Group B second placers, the difficult and tricky Indonesian Trikus Heryanto and his partner Minarti Timur. Kim and Ra won the match over Sogaard and Olsen 15-12, 3-15 and 15-8.

The unofficial summary of the semifinal results:

Men's Singles - Peter Gade (Denmark) beat Ong Ewe Hock (Malaysia) by walkover; Sun Jun (China) beat Yong Hock Kin (Malaysia) 15-12, 17-15
Women's Singles - Dai Yun (China) beat Gong Zhichao (China) 11-0, 11-6; Zhang Ning (China) beat Ye Zhaoying (China) 11-5, 8-11, 11-8
Men's Doubles - Denny Kantono and Antonius Budi Ariantho (Indonesia) beat Rexy Mainaky and Ricky Subagja (Indonesia) 15-11, 15-12; Tony Gunawan and Heryanto Halim (Indonesia) beat Flandy Limpele and Eng Hian (Indonesia) 15-11, 15-9
Women's Doubles - Ge Fei and Gu Jun (China) beat Huang Nanyan and Yang Wei (China) 15-5, 15-4; Marlene Thomsen and Rikke Olsen (Denmark) beat Ann Jorgensen and Majken Vange (Denmark) 15-5, 15-8
Mixed Doubles - Simon Archer and Joanne Goode (England) beat Michael Sogaard and Rikke Olsen (Denmark) 15-9, 13-15, 15-11; Kim Dong Moon and Ra Kyung Min (Korea) 15-7, 15-4


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