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Malaysian Open: Unseeded Luo Yigang Gains Finals Shot

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

July 3, 1999 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Luo Yigang of China, ranked number fifty in the world in badminton men's singles, once again sprung a surprise at the Malaysian Open championships at the Malawati Stadium in Shah Alam, Selangor. The unseeded Chinese player who last night had upended teammate and current world champion Sun Jun with a 15-8 and 15-3 scoreline convincingly trounced the seventh-seeded Rashid Sidek of Malaysia in a semifinal contest this evening 15-3 and 15-3 to earn a spot in tomorrow's final.

Luo's excellent court coverage and strong attack was devastating against Sidek. In the first game, he burst out quickly to a 4-0 lead before the Malaysian could get on the scoreboard. Sidek strung three points together but all the rallies went Luo's way after that.

In the second set, Sidek opened with two scores but Luo then asserted control of the play and limited the Malaysian to only one more point. After only 30 minutes of semifinal match play, Luo had booked his place in the championship match tomorrow.

Luo's latest two wins are a surprise not so much because he defeated seeded players but because he has done it with big margins. After all, Luo was once ranked as high as third in the world in 1998. However, he went through a bad slump last year after he lost a key semifinal match in the Thomas Cup Finals (the world men's team championships) and did not even qualify to play in the world individual championships this past May.

Many observers felt that in yesterday's match, world champion Sun Jun was a step slower than usual. After Luo's overwhelming victory over Sidek today, the same observers indicated that Luo's play may just have been very sharp and greatly in-form both yesterday against Sun and today against Sidek.

In the other men's singles semifinal, an all-Malaysian matchup, Wong Choon Hann defeated giantkiller M. Roslin Hashim 15-7 and 15-5. Hashim had scored the upset of the tournament in the round-of-16 on Thursday when he put out the world number Peter Gade of Denmark.

Hashim started out well today against Wong. He took an early 3-0 advantage and then a 6-3 lead in the opening set. Wong rallied his way into the match and pulled even at 7-all. Hashim's play then went sour as Wong tallied the next 8 points to take the first game 15-8.

In the second, Hashim continued to play without the fire and the high quality that he had displayed in his victories over top-seeded Peter Gade on Thursday and sixth-seeded Ong Ewe Hock yesterday. Wong took the second handily 15-5.

In the men's doubles semifinals, Indonesian pairs avenged their medal shutout at the recent world championships when they beat both the world champion duo of Ha Tae Kwon and Kim Dong Moon of Korea and the world championships silver medalists Lee Dong Soo and Yoo Yung Sung, also of Korea. Flandy Limpele and Eng Hian upset the world champions 15-5 and 15-11, while Chandra Wijaya and Tony Gunawan defeated Lee and Yoo 15-3 and 15-5.

The powerhouse Chinese women players guaranteed themselves a second 1999 Malaysian Open title when women's doubles world champions Ge Fei and Gu Jun beat Indonesia's Eliza Nathanael and Deyana Lomban 15-8, 11-15 and 15-4, and their teammates Qin Yiyuan and Gao Ling defeated another Indonesian pair, Etty Tantri and Chynthia Tuwankotta, 15-11 and 15-10 in semifinal action.

The Chinese already were certain of the women's singles title with all four of today's semifinalists coming from China. In today's matchups, world junior champion Gong Ruina beat Zhou Mi 1-11, 11-6, 11-9 and world championships runner-up Dai Yun beat Yao Jie 11-3, 6-11, 11-0.

In the mixed doubles semifinals, top-seeds Michael Sogaard and Rikke Olsen of Denmark turned back China's Zhang Jun and Gao Ling 15-2, 12-15 and 15-4, while second-seeds Tri Kusharyanto and Minarti Timur of Indonesia trounced Korea's Ha Tae Kwon and Chung Jae Hee 15-5 and 15-2.


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