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Malaysian Open: Luo Yigang Battles Way To Title

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

July 4, 1999 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Former men's singles world number three Luo Yigang of China today battled his way to the five-star Malaysian Open badminton men's singles title and signalled to the rest of the badminton world that he was on his way back to the top 10. Luo who came into the tournament ranked number 50 defeated Wong Choon Hann of host Malaysia in a two-set thriller of a final that went to tiebreak or setting in both games.

Along the way to today's championship match, Luo beat world champion and second-ranked Sun Jun of China, world number fourteen Rashid Sidek and number fifteen Yong Hock Kin, both of Malaysia.

In today's men's singles final, both Luo and Wong exchanged points in the early going and were even at 2-2, 3-3 and 5-5. Luo then pulled away to an 8-5 lead as he began to find the floor with well-placed smashes and dropshots. Wong played hard to score some points but the Chinese player managed to keep the lead and reached game point at 14-10.

Wong then ran off a string of points with excellent play at the net and he was able to force a tiebreak at 14-all. The Malaysian scored twice more to reach a game point of his own at 16-14, but Luo was able to foil Wong and gained the serve.

Luo managed to score once to close in at 15-16. Wong though regained the serve on the next rally and held a second game point. Once again, the Malaysian player failed to convert, this time on a dropshot that found the net.

Luo did not waste the opportunity and scored twice on his serve to win the set 17-16.

In the second game, Luo raced ahead to a 5-0 advantage as Wong seemed to have lost his focus. The Chinese player continued to dominate the play and held his advantage at 7-3 before Wong refocused and found his stroke.

The Malaysian mounted a comeback as Luo began to tire. Wong caught up to the Chinese player at 10-all and then took the lead 11-10 and 12-10.

Luo though started to raise his level of play again and scored four times to gain match point at 14-12. Once again, Wong came back at Luo with excellent play and forced another tiebreak at 14-all.

Wong scored first in the setting to lead at 15-14 but Luo outplayed him the rest of the way to win 17-15.

Aside from the 12,000 US dollar purse for winning the men's singles title, the victory was worth 597 precious ranking points for Luo, 480 points for winning a five-star event plus 117 bonus points for beating players ranked above him. The points are enough to vault Luo into the top 20 and into contention for one of the coveted 29 qualifying spots in badminton men's singles at the upcoming Sydney Olympic Games.

In the all-Chinese women's singles final, world championships silver medalist Dai Yun easily defeated world junior champion Gong Ruina 11-6 and 11-3 in just under 30 minutes.

In the all-Indonesian men's doubles final, second seeds Chandra Wijaya and Tony Gunawan beat Flandy Limpele and Eng Hian. Wijaya and Gunawan, this year's All-England champions, dominated the first game and quickly finished Limpele and Hian off in 11 minutes with a scoreline of 15-6. Limpele and Hian put up more of a fight early in the second and took a 4-0 advantage before Wijaya and Gunawan settled down and rattled off nine points to lead at 9-4.

The All-England titleists kept their advantage after that, despite a strong surge from Limpele and Hian that saw them pull closer at 10-13. Wijaya and Gunawan though were too quick-reflexed on defense and too strong on the attack for their teammates as they scored twice to win at 15-11.

In the women's doubles final, another all-China affair, world champions Ge Fei and Gu Jun defeated Qin Yiyuan and Gao Ling 15-8 and 15-10.

In the mixed doubles championship match, top seed Michael Sogaard and Rikke Olsen of Denmark outplayed Tri Kusharyanto and Minarti Timur of Indonesia 15-4 and 15-7.


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