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Grand Prix Finals: Gade Storms Into Final

** This NEW SHUTTLENWS report is presented by YANG YANG Badminton Products and their Western Canada agents - MAAKL Corporation, Saint Albert, Alberta (Tel 780-458-2026/ Fax 780-459-8891) **

December 4, 1999 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - At the 1999 World Grand Prix Finals of badminton being held in the National Indoor Stadium in Brunei, Peter Gade of Denmark, the sport's world number two player in men's singles, floundered early in the second set of his semifinal match with Wong Choon Hann of Malaysia but then stormed back late in the game to beat the rangy Malaysian left-hander in two straight sets 15-10 and 15-13. The victory put Gade into the title match of badminton's year-ending tournament of champions for the second year in a row.

Gade was a finalist in the 1998 edition of the tourney but was soundly beaten by China's Sun Jun. This time though, Sun Jun, the reigning world champion, was eliminated in the first stage round-robin competition and is not around to spoil the Danish player's bid to become the first non-Asian winner of the Grand Prix Finals men's singles crown.

Instead of Sun Jun, Indonesia's Marleve Mainaky is the player standing in Gade's way. Mainaky took out Sun in the first stage and then beat his fellow Indonesian Hendrawan in today's final four action 15-11, 9-15 and 15-11 to gain a spot in the title contest.

In the mixed doubles semifinals, second-seeds (Mr.) Kim Dong Moon and (Ms.) Ra Kyung Min of South Korea) beat (Ms.) Rikke Olsen and (Mr.) Michael Sogaard of Denmark 15-11 and 15-12. (Mr.) Tri Kusheryanto and (Ms.) Minarti Timur of Indonesia upset top-seeds (Ms.) Ge Fei and (Mr.) Liu Yong of China 15-8 and 15-13.

In the women's singles final four, second-seed Ye Zhaoying of China beat third-seed Gong Zhichao, also from China 11-2 and 11-5. Top-seeded Dai Yun, another Chinese player, beat Zhou Mi, also from China, 9-11, 11-3 and 11-5.

In the women's doubles semifinals, world champions and top-seeds Ge Fei and Gu Jun of China trampled Etty Tantri and Cynthia Tuwankotta of Indonesia 15-3 and 15-4. Second seeds Chung Jae Hee and Ra Kyung Min of South Korea beat Chen Lin and Jiang Xuelian of China 15-6 and 15-9.

In the men's doubles final four, world champions and top seeds Ha Tae Kwon and Kim Dong Moon of South Korea beat second seeds Lee Dong Soo and Yoo Yung Sung, also from South Korea 4-15, 15-10 and 15-7. Tony Gunawan and Chandra Wijaya of Indonesia beat Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah of Malaysia 15-12 and 15-5.

In the Gade-Wong semifinal, Wong started out in attacking mode and went ahead to an early 3-1 lead in the opening set. Gade though soon got his game into gear and inched ahead of the Malaysian at 5-4. The Dane then zoomed to a huge 10-4 lead with steep smashes and power killshots plus two Wong errors.

Wong managed to score twice to cut Gade's margin somewhat, first on a overlong lift by Gade and then on a very deceptive crosscourt lift that fooled the Danish player. However, that was all the scoring the Malaysian could muster for a while.

After a series of scoreless service turns, Gade once again piled on the points and moved to a commanding 14-6 advantage. With set point in hand, Gade either hurried or tried to be too precise with a low serve and sent the shuttle into the net instead.

Wong took advantage of the reprieve. He scored on a backhand smash and then again on Gade's tricky but errant crosscourt netshot return of a low serve. The Malaysian tallied a third straight point when he hit a round-the-head smash to end a series of Gade shots that had him yoyo-ing around the court. Wong then added a fourth with a leaping backhanded killshot that finished an exchange at the net. He had now closed in somewhat at 10-14.

Gade changed tactics on Wong's next serve. Instead of a tricky netshot return or a lift, the Dane rushed Wong's low serve attempt. Gade backhanded the shuttle downwards just after it had crossed the net and caught Wong unprepared.

With set point in hand once again, Gade controlled the next rally. He got Wong to lift, and then struck a jumpsmash-jumpdrop-jumpsmash sequence to score the game winner.

In the second set, Gade opened the scoring after swapping service turns. The Dane had a small 2-0 lead when his game went off the boil. He made 6 straight mistakes and gifted the Malaysian with a 6-2 advantage. Wong then added one more with a well-executed brushing kill that finished off an exchange at the net.

After a series of scoreless service turns, Wong scored once again when he went on the attack and then softly dumped the shuttle over the net. Gade and the Malaysian then swapped scores but Wong stayed well ahead. With the score at 12-4, Wong then began to make both unforced and pressured mistakes. Gade began to come back.

Wong's mistakes had put Gade only 4 points behind at 9-13. Two more miscues from the Malaysian put Gade even closer at 11-13. In the next rally, Gade scored with a jumpsmash. He then scored again to knot up the set at 13-all when his jumpdrop forced Wong into a slightly off-form crosscourt lift that flew long.

In the exchange that followed, an overanxious Wong tried to stop Gade's run with a crosscourt backhand kill reply to the Dane's netshot. The Malaysian lefthander tried too hard and sent the shuttle into the net. Gade was at match point 14-13.

Wong played carefully in the next rally. The two engaged in a clearing rally, primarily to each other's backhand, each trying to force the other to hit the shuttle short. Both avoided the backhand though and struck round-the-head shots.

The wily Dane though broke the pattern. Instead of striking a round-the-head straight clear, he went for a round-the-head drop. The change paid off. It wrongfooted Wong just enough for Gade to score the match winner.

In the Mainaky-Hendrawan semifinal, Mainaky captured the first set 15-11. Hendrawan came back to take the second 15-9.

In the decider, Mainaky raced to a 4-1 advantage, first with a block that flew over the head of an oncoming Hendrawan, and then three times on stinging jumpsmashes. He added a fifth on an error by Hendrawan.

Mainaky increased his advantage to 8-3 on another Hendrawan mistake and more scoring jumpsmashes.

The change of ends at mid-game of the decider seemed to suit Hendrawan and unsettle Mainaky. Mainaky made 5 mistakes to gift Hendrawan with an 8-all tie score. Hendrawan then took the lead at 9-8 with a rally-ending half-kill of Mainaky's crosscourt net shot.

Mainaky settled down at this stage. He tied up the set at 9-all with a kill shot and then took over the lead with another killshot that Hendrawan could only block wide.

After exchanging service turns, Mainaky scored again with a hesitation backhand drive that fooled Hendrawan. Mainaky continued to build up his lead and reached match point at 14-11 when Hendrawan launched a rally-ending jumpclear that sailed long.

Hendrawan tried to save match point and succeeded with a full-blooded jumpsmash return of a high serve. However, he could not score on his service turn with Mainaky taking the serve back when he struck a backhand crosscourt lift that Hendrawan misjudged.

Mainaky once again served for the match. Once again Hendrawan tried to save match point. He played aggressively and attacked Mainaky with his shots. He maneuvered Mainaky to one side of the court and then struck a scoring crosscourt smash towards his opponent's untended forehand sideline. Mainaky dove to block the shuttle back and incredibly was able to tap the missile back over the net. However, he ended up sprawled on the floor, struggling but unable to get up and back into the rally.

Hendrawan had almost all of Mainaky's end of the court to place the shuttle and thus stay alive in the match. But perhaps because he was as surprised and startled as many in the stands by Mainaky's diving save, Hendrawan inexplicably poked the shuttle into the net. With that mistake, he gifted Mainaky with the game, the match, a spot in the finals and a chance for badminton glory.

Following are tomorrow's championship matchups (number before player's name indicates seeding; play starts at 5:00pm Brunei time):

Mixed Doubles - 2-Mr. Kim Dong Moon and Ms. Ra Kyung Min (S.Korea) vs. Mr. Tri Kusheryanto and Ms. Minarti Timur (Indonesia)
Women's Singles - 1-Dai Yun (China) vs. 2-Ye Zhaoying (China)
Men's Singles - 2-Peter Gade (Denmark) vs. Marleve Mainaky (Indonesia)
Women's Doubles - 1-Ge Fei and Gu Jun (China) vs. 2-Chung Jae Hee and Ra Kyung Min (Korea)
Men's Doubles - 1-Ha Tae Kwon and Kim Dong Moon (S. Korea) vs. Tony Gunawan and Chandra Wijaya (Indonesia)


Posted With The Permission Of The Copyright Holder.