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Sudirman Cup: Denmark, Korea In Key Matchup

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

May 9, 1999 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Denmark and Korea, two of the top contenders for the 1999 world mixed team championship in badminton, will face each other in an early key matchup tomorrow evening on the tournament's first day of action at the Brondby Hall near Copenhagen, Denmark. The Danish team is the top seed in their group and are led by men's singles world number one Peter Gade Christensen, women's singles world number three Camilla Martin, and mixed doubles world number threes Michael Sogaard and Rikke Olsen. The Koreans will bank on their top-notch doubles specialists - male players Lee Dong Soo, Yoo Yung Sung, Ha Tae Kwon and Kim Dong Moon and female players Ra Kyung Min and Chung Jae Hee.

With the format of the Sudirman Cup mixed team competition featuring three doubles matches - a men's doubles, a women's doubles and a mixed doubles - and two singles matches - a men's singles and women's singles - in each team contest, the outcome of the matchup between host Denmark and Korea is very much up in the air. Denmark is favored to take the two singles matches, Korea is a slight favorite to take the men's doubles contest. The women's and mixed doubles matches are a tossup.

Defending champion China also goes into action tomorrow evening against the Malaysian team. The Chinese who are the top seeds in their group have a clear advantage in the women's singles and doubles as well as the mixed doubles. The Chinese also have a slight edge in the men's singles match with world number two Sun Jun available to play for their side. The Malaysians may have the advantage in the men's doubles contest but top players Cheah Soon Kit and Choong Tan Fook are said to be unhappy partnering each other and may not be playing at their best.

Sweden and Indonesia are the two other teams in contention for the Sudirman Cup. Sweden is in the same pool as Denmark, while Indonesia is grouped with China. The two sides will play on Tuesday evening with Sweden battling Korea and Indonesia facing Malaysia. On Wednesday evening, Sweden will meet Denmark and Indonesia will play China.

England is not contending for the Sudirman Cup this year. The English were relegated to Group 2 during the 1997 championships and will be trying to earn their way back into the top tier.

The USA is also competing in the Sudirman Cup but are not among the teams in contention for the championship. They are in Group 4 and are battling for promotion to the next tier - Group 3. If the USA side has a succesful campaign this year, they will be contending for promotion to Group 2 in 2001 under the current Sudirman Cup promotion/relegation system. The earliest that the USA could be in the top group contending for the world mixed team championship is the year 2005.

Team USA is led this year by playing coach Ardy Wiranata who is booked to play men's singles and men's doubles. Wiranata, winner of an Olympic silver medal in men's singles in 1992 while he was playing for his native Indonesia, may also play mixed doubles in the team competition. Kevin Han, Mike Edstrom, Chris Hales, Mark Manha, Yeping Tang, and Lily Chen are the other members of Team USA.

The USA is seeded ahead of Iceland, Switzerland and Czechia in their half of Group 4. Poland is the top seed in the other Group 4 pool followed by Wales, Bulgaria, and Belarus. With Wiranata playing for the USA side, the Americans stand a good chance of moving up to Group 3.

The Canadians, who were demoted from Group 2 last time around, are the top seeds in their half of Group 3. Teams that are in the same pool as Canada are India, Finland, and Austria. Australia is the top pick in the other half of Group 3 followed by Hong Kong, Norway, and Ukraine.

Following are the Sudirman Cup groups:

Group 1A - Denmark, Sweden, Korea
Group 1B - China, Indonesia, Malaysia
Group 2A - England, Netherlands, Russia, Scotland
Group 2B - Germany, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand
Group 3A - Canada, India, Finland, Austria
Group 3B - Australia, Hong Kong, Norway, Ukraine
Group 4A - USA, Iceland, Switzerland, Czechia
Group 4B - Poland, Wales, Bulgaria, Belarus
Group 5A - France, Peru, Kazakhstan, Israel
Group 5B - Spain, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Belgium
Group 6A - South Africa, Slovakia, Mexico, Lithuania
Group 6B - Mauritius, Cyprus, Brazil, Luxembourg
Group 7 - Argentina, Estonia, Nigeria, Latvia, Zambia


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