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SWEDISH OPEN: KOREA'S KIM KNOCKS OFF GONG AGAIN
March 8, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - The Korean coaching staff must have done
their homework on China's Gong Zhichao, the world's number one women's singles
player, very well. For the second encounter in a row, Korean player Kim Ji
Hyun took the measure of Gong. And this time, it was a bit easier. Kim
defeated the Chinese ace in the final of the Swedish Open badminton
championships in Borlange in straight games, 12-10 and 11-8.
Two weeks ago at the Asian Uber Cup preliminaries in Pasig City, Philippines,
Kim came back after Gong had match points in the second set to beat the world
number one 4-11, 12-11 and 11-8.
Today, Kim beat Gong at her own game of patient rallying often ended by
extremely sliced and deceptive dropshots. The Korean seemed able to read
Gong's shots or was able to anticipate the Chinese player's next move. Kim
also lobbed and cleared Gong all over the court, taxing the shorter Chinese
player's energy reserves.
After losing the closely-fought first set in a tiebreak at 12-11, Gong opened
up in the second game with a burst of points to lead at 8-4 . She seemed like
she was going to take the match to a deciding third set, but Kim's tactics
of moving Gong around in long rallies began to pay off. Gong's play tapered
off and Kim was able to catch up and to pass the Chinese player to win at
11-8 for her first ever major international title.
In the men's singles final between two Chinese teammates, Luo Yigang and
Chen Gang played a close first game which went into a five-point setting. The
more experienced Luo however pulled out the win in the tiebreak 5-1 (18-14
game score). In the second, Luo ran away with the game, easily outscoring Chen
Indonesia's Chandra Wijaya and Tony Gunawan took the men's doubles title,
beating Chinese up-and-comers Yang Ming and Zhang Jun 15-3 and 15-6. Yang and
Zhang were competing in their first major international final and were not
able to match the quality of play of the world champion Wijaya and his partner
Jang Hye Ock and Ra Kyung Min of Korea won the women's doubles championship.
Jang, one of the 1995 world champions and an Atlanta Olympics silver medalist,
teamed up with Ra, winner of an Olympic silver medal in mixed doubles in 1996,
to defeat Liu Zhong and Huang Nanyan of China 15-12 and 15-9 and to win their
first major international crown as a pair.
In the mixed doubles final played yesterday, Kim Dong Moon and Ra Kyung Min
of Korea defeated Chen Gang and Tang Yongshu of China 15-3 and 15-3.
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