Sat, 12 Mar 2005

From: AFP

Luluk/Alven into All-England last 8, Mia silences Gong

Agencies, Birmingham, England

With some of badminton's top names packing their bags and heading home unexpectedly early, Indonesia's men's doubles and mixed doubles pairs kept the red-and-white flag flying at the All-England championships on Thursday.

Second seeded Luluk Hadiyanto and Alven Yulianto were forced into a tiebreak in the first game against compatriots and 2003 All-England champions Candra Wijaya and Sigit Budiarto but romped home in the second 17-14, 15-2.

In the second round, Candra had been in the unusual position of facing Tony Gunawan -- his partner when he won the 2001 title. Tony, part of the exodus of Indonesian players to play for other countries around the world, represents the U.S. with Howard Bach.

Luluk and Alven, who next play sixth seeded Danes Carsten Mogensen and Mathias Boe, were joined in the quarterfinals by fellow Indonesians Eng Hian and Flandy Limpele. The fifth seeds face third seeded Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng -- who edged England's Robert Blair and Nathan Robertson 15-12 in a 70-minute tussle on Thursday -- in Friday's last eight.

Top seeded title holders Jens Eriksen and Martin Lundgaard Hansen also reached the quarters.

In mixed doubles, the young Indonesian pairing of Anggun Nugroho and Yunita Tetty upset the eight seeded Dane Rikke Olsen and Carsten Mogensen 15-3, 15-7 to meet second seeds Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms, who were kept on court for more than 80 minutes by South Korea's Lee Jae-Jin/Lee Hyo-Jung.

Also through are the fifth seeded Indonesians Nova Widianto and Lilyana Natsir, who will be evenly matched against China's sixth seeds Zhang Jun and Gao Ling. Their path has been cleared with the dismissal of top seeded Jens Eriksen/Mette Schjoldager from their half of the draw by compatriots Thomas Laybourn and Rhytter Juhl.

The good fortune was not shared by women's singles player Maria Kristin Yulianti, who lost in the second round to Japan's Erika Hirose, and the women's doubles pairing of Jo Novita and Lita Nurlita, who went down 15-7, 9-15, 5-10 to Jiang Yanmei and Li Yujia of Singapore.

Private TV station TV 7 will broadcast the semifinals on Saturday and finals on Sunday at 10:30 p.m. on both days.

The opening days of play this week featured some notable upsets, including defending women's champion Gong Ruina, 2003 champion Zhou Mi and Pi Hongyan, the Chinese-born second seed from France, on Thursday.

On Wednesday Xia Xuanze, who had won the men's world title in this same arena in 2003, was among five seeds beaten.

Thursday's biggest upset in the men's draw was Peter Gade. The 1999 All-England champion missed a match point and was beaten in an astonishing third round match lasting almost two hours against Muhammad Roslin Hashim.

The elder of the two Malaysian brothers was on the brink at a game down and 13-14 down in the second when he averted danger with a superb smash. Then he grew in confidence after he took the match to a decider.

"I am very disappointed because I have been in great form," said Gade.

"I don't know why, but after the first (game) I got very tired in my legs. It's a matter of balance -- practicing hard toward the big tournaments and maybe I have not had enough rest."

Pi Hongyang played poorly in her 11-6 11-7 loss to Japan's improving Kaori Mori.

Zhou looked nothing like the player who won the title here two years ago and her discomfort was increased by the fact that her 11-6 11-4 defeat came at the hands of another former Chinese national squad member, Xu Huaiwen, now a German.

Xu was regarded as too small to make it against the bigger, stronger Chinese girls, but now that characteristic proved an asset, as she buzzed around the court and made Zhou look leaden.

Gong was often left trailing by the unorthodox strokes of Mia Audina as she lost 11-7 11-5.

The Indonesian-raised Netherlands player also beat Gong in the semifinals of the Olympics seven months ago.

"Before I finish my career I would like to be All-England champion," said Mia. "I'll keep trying and hopefully it will be this year."