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Grand Prix Finals: Sun Jun Captures Historic Second Title

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

February 28, 1999 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - World Grand Prix Finals defending men's singles champion Sun Jun of China made history when he defeated world number one Peter Gade of Denmark 15-11 and 15-8 in today's championship match and retained the title that he won in December, 1997. By capturing the 1998 men's singles championship, Sun Jun became the first player to win two consecutive World Grand Prix Finals titles in the event.

Other title winners at the World Grand Prix Finals that were staged in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei this week were Kim Dong Moon and Ra Kyung Min of Korea in the mixed doubles event, Zhang Ning of China in the women's singles, Denny Kantono and Antonius Budi Ariantho of Indonesia in the men's doubles, and Ge Fei and Gu Jun of China in the women's doubles event.

In today's other championship matches, Kim and Ra beat Simon Archer and Joanne Goode of England 15-6 and 15-9. Zhang Ning defeated teammate Dai Yun 11-8 and 11-7. Kantono and Antonius beat fellow Indonesians Tony Gunawan and Heryanto Halim 15-11 and 15-11.

Ge Fei and Gu Jun took their title without a single rally being played when their opponents, Marlene Thomsen and Rikke Olsen of Denmark, were unable to play because of Thomsen's injured back which had gotten worse during the semifinals yesterday.

Sun's men's singles victory today had its glorious athletic moments but did not have the drama and sensational action of his semifinal match yesterday with the do-or-die Malaysian player Yong Hock Kin.

At the start of the match, Peter Gade was erratic, gifting Sun with a 6-1 advantage on miscues and bad plays. The Danish player then seemed to find his game and his touch. He scored a point with a very deceptive crosscourt jumpsmash that wrongfooted Sun, then another with a killshot after he had made Sun strike a bad lift. Gade's all-court stroking punctuated by leaping smashes put Sun under severe pressure and the Dane managed to close in at 5-6.

The two then went thru 6 scoreless service turns as both tightened up on their play. Finally, Gade broke thru with a lucky backhand push shot that ticked the top of the net and rolled over. The Dane then took the lead 7-6 with a crosscourt push that surprised the Chinese player.

Sun though was equal to Gade's challenge. After he had broken Gade's service, he pressured the Dane into an errant crosscourt drive from the net with his tireless retrieving and top-class net tumblers and lifts. Sun then scored thrice to open up a 10-7 lead, first on a backhand crosscourt drive that landed close to the line, next on a very controlled half-killshot and lastly on a rally-ending change-of-tempo jumpsmash that surprised Gade.

On Sun's next serve, Gade took the offensive, attacking and attacking in a furious rally while Sun dashed from corner to corner and side to side, retrieving and flicking the shuttle back at Gade's end of the court. Gade 's pressure finally earned him a kill shot that broke Sun's serve.

On Gade's service turn, Gade was moving Sun around with his shotmaking. He held his stroke then flicked shuttle crosscourt towards Sun's backhand rear corner. Sun raced back to strike the shuttle with a backhand stroke and then, in a difficult athletic move, he rotated his body and instead struck an overhead half-smash that surprised Gade into blocking the shuttle out-of-bounds.

Gade countered with another service break and then scored twice on two Sun miscues. He then lost his serve when he struck a jumpsmash wide. Sun though was not able to score as Gade piled the pressure on and had Sun on the run retrieving and digging out the shuttle until Gade got the rally-ending kill.

Sun broke back. Once again, Gade piled pressure on and had the Chinese player on the run. This time though, Sun's fleetfooted retrieving paid off. It was Gade who made the mistake, sending a tumbler into the net for Sun's eleventh point and an 11-9 lead.

After a Gade breakback and two scoreless service turns, the Dane's tight net shot forced Sun into a lift that Gade hit with scoring angled jumpsmash to the line. On his next serve, Gade again controlled the rally. He sent the shuttle flying to the rearcourt. Sun at first though that the missile was going long but, at the last moment, he decided to strike the shuttle with a punch drive, only to have the waiting Gade pound it to the floor for a scoring kill. The Dane had pulled even again at 11-all.

Sun and Gade then exchanged several scoreless service turns as both tried to rally carefully and not give the other an advantage. Sun finally broke out of the scoreless streak when he forced a lift from a surprised Gade with an extremely angled backhand dropshot and then pounded Gade's reply to the sideline with his two-footed leaping smash.

Sun added two more points with Gade miscues and scored the game winner when the Dane sent an angled crosscourt pushshot from the net out-of-bounds.

In the second game, Gade started out trying too hard. He tried to quickly break Sun's opening high serve with a booming jumpsmash but he did not time his stroke correctly and sent the shuttle into the net to give Sun point number one.

Gade then broke Sun's serve. On his service turn though, Sun was the one piling the pressure on. He had Gade scrambling to return the shuttle and actually had the Dane down on the floor trying to return a deceptive push shot. Gade was able to keep the shuttle in play and then get up for another stroke. However, he sent the shuttle into the net and lost his serve.

The two swapped scoreless service turns. Sun then scored on a rally-ending jumpsmash. Next, Sun lost his serve but broke back and scored again when he wrongfooted Gade with a deceptive lift which the Dane punch cleared long.

Gade got the serve back and finally tallied his first point of the second set when he forced a loose net shot from Sun with a very tight net spinner and then hit a killshot.

After another run of scoreless service turns, Sun scored twice on kills off loose Gade net shots. Gade though came back to tie the score at 5-all with a scoring jumpsmash, two Sun mistakes and another scoring jumpsmash. An angled jumpsmash set up by excellent net play earned the Dane a small lead at 6-5.

Gade, however, could not pull away. Sun broke his serve and then tied the score when a hurried Gade sent a difficult round-the-head off-speed smash into the net.

Three Gade errors helped the Chinese player to a 9-6 advantage. In the next rally, Gade had Sun in trouble. The Dane pushed the shuttle to Sun's backline. Sun was a step late for a backhand clear and his only shot seemed to be a backhand drop. Gade stood just back of the short service line, waiting for the kill. Sun though pulled out another incredible shot out of the bag. He reached to the rear for the shuttle and stroked a severely sliced backhand fast drop that curved away from the waiting Dane for a winner.

Gade then stopped Sun's streak and followed the service break with a score on an incredible shot of his own - a almost-back-to-the-net crosscourt drive that wrongfooted Sun.

The Dane however was again unable to sustain a scoring run. He lost his serve when he misjudged a lift from Sun and let the shuttle land, only to have the line judge call the shot inbounds.

Sun then went on another scoring steak. First, he wrongfooted Gade with a push from the net that Gade could only poke at and send to the net for an onrushing Sun to kill. Sun added another when Gade hit a crosscourt dropshot wide and a third when Gade ended a rally with a net shot attempt that hit the net. Sun was now only two points away from the title at 13-7.

A determined Gade battled back to get the serve and then scored with a smash reply to a Sun crosscourt clear. That though was the last of the Dane's points.

The two swapped several scoreless service turns until Sun tallied with a crosscourt dropshot that Gade returned to the net. Sun was at championship point 14-8.

Gade was determined to stop Sun at match point. He gained the attack and struck a crosscourt jumpsmash. Sun softly blocked the shuttle just over the net. Gade who had dashed from across the court to cover the reply tried to tumble the shuttle over for a smash setup. However, the Dane mishit the spinner into the net, handing the delighted Sun the Grand Prix Finals men's singles title.

In the mixed doubles final, the teamwork of Kim Dong Moon and Ra Kyung Min was too much for Simon Archer and Joanne Goode. Archer was able to match Kim powershot for powershot and touchshot for touchshot, but Goode and, at times, Archer were not quick enough and strong enough to handle the Korean fast drives, the Kim Dong Moon smashes and the Ra Kyung Min kills with which the Koreans scored most of their points. The English, specially Archer, tried to make a match of the final but the Korean partnership was too good and too strong.

In the women's singles title match, Zhang Ning used her steeper crosscourt and straight smashes and drops, her better court movement and her experience to turn back her slightly nervous 21-year old teammate Dai Yun.

In the men's doubles final, the defensive prowess of 29-year old Denny Kantono and 27-year old Antonius Budi Ariantho and their ability to turn defense into attack helped the pair to overcome the powersmashing of their fellow Indonesians Gunawan and Halim.


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