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UBER CUP FINALS: CHINA'S YE AND GONG CONQUER INDONESIANS
May 23, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Amid the clanging of Chinese gongs, the
beating of Indonesian drums, and loud partisan cheers, world women's singles
champion Ye Zhaoying of China and silver medalist Gong Zhichao conquered very
difficult Indonesian opponents today to lead the Chinese team to the ultimate
victory in the Uber Cup Finals - badminton's world women's team championship.
Ye defeated her long-time nemesis, Susi Susanti, in three games 11-9, 10-12
and 11-5. Gong came back from 3 match points down in the second set to
vanquish an exhausted Mia Audina 9-11, 12-10 and 11-4 and to capture the Uber
Cup for China.
In between the two Chinese singles victories, world doubles champions Ge Fei
and Gu Jun posted an easy 15-7 and 15-1 win over Indarti Isolina and Rosiana
After Gong's victory had settled ownership of the Uber Cup until the year
2000, an uninspired Chinese pairing of Qin Yiyuan and Tang Yongshu lost to
Eliza Nathanael and Deyana Lomban 15-5, 11-15 and 9-15. Lefthander Dai Yun
played the final match, putting on a brilliant display of racket skills in her
11-3 and 11-6 demolition of Meiluawati.
In the first singles match, Ye Zhaoying started out well while Susanti was
erratic early. Ye gained a 10-1 lead before the Indonesian player really got
going and Ye's game started to go sour under the pressure of Susanti's strokes
and saves. Susanti fought off 2 Ye game points and moved her score to 7 on a
succession of Ye miscues. She got closer at 10-8, ending a rally with an
unorthodox poke dropshot that surprised Ye. The Indonesian got even closer at
10-9, pressuring Ye into an errant clear.
Ye seemed to be in desperate straits. She had been in this situation before
against Susanti in the championship tie of the 1996 Uber Cup Finals. She had
lost that match and she had gone home in tears that evening.
Would it be 1996 all over again?
Ye got her patented reverse-slice crosscourt dropshot working and stopped
Susanti's run with one that elicited an out-of-bounds lift from Susanti. Ye
did not waste her third game point. With a series of clears and drops, Ye
forced Susanti into a short lift which she smashed for the game-winner.
In the second set, Ye again got off to an early lead at 7-3. Susanti fought
back and pulled even at 7-all surprising Ye with an almost-reflexive
stretched-arm straight drive reply to a crosscourt drive.
Susanti pulled ahead after several service turns. A very tight net shot got
her a short lift from Ye which she promptly smashed back at Ye for a point.
With another tight net shot and a slightly loose Ye reply, she scored her
ninth with a crosscourt kill.
Ye countered and managed to force deuce at 9-all when she forced Susanti into
an off-balance clear which she was able to smash to the floor.
Ye drew first blood in the setting with a crosscourt dropshot winner. Susanti
though held Ye scoreless after that, while she tallied three to claim the
second set - the first on an errant Ye lift, the second on a Ye dropshot into
the net and the game winner on a crosscourt flat block of a Ye smash.
In the decider, both players exchanged several scoreless service turns early.
Susanti got the first point when Ye hit a dropshot wide. Ye equalized when she
maneuvered Susanti with crosscourt clears and drops into striking a clearing
After another scoreless stretch of service turns, Ye scored again, forcing
Susanti into a net miscue with a dropshot. Ye steadily pulled away to a 5-1
and then a 7-3 advantage. The Indonesian closed in at 5-7 on a forced net
error and then a controlled kill shot.
Susanti though could not maintain the pace and, despite great shotmaking and
retrieving, she made two forced errors that allowed Ye to move ahead 9-5.
The world champion from China, perhaps sensing that victory was at hand,
stepped up the power and the pace. A crosscourt smash that caught Susanti on
the wrong side of the court and Ye was at match point.
Susanti played desperately to save match point, clearing and retrieving
frantically, trying to force an error from Ye. Ye though was in control of
the rally and, after a series of varied shots, she found a Susanti reply that
she liked. She promptly hammered the shuttle to the floor for the match
China was on its way to Uber Cup heaven.
After Ge Fei and Gu Jun had taken the first doubles match and had placed
Indonesia on the precipice of defeat, it was up to Mia Audina to keep Indon
hopes alive. She had to win the second singles match against Gong Zhichao.
Her body was not up to the task against the athletic and fleet-footed Gong.
After an early stretch of scoreless service turns, Audina scored first on a
netshot. Gong countered with an exquisite snap backhand crosscourt drop that
surprised Audina. Gong then got three scores to move to a 4-1 lead.
Gong maintained a small advantage into the middle of the first game. She was
ahead 8-4 when Audina started a run at her lead. A hairpin net shot that
ticked the top of the net and the Indonesian had 5. After exchanging service
turns, Audina again used a hairpin net shot to score her sixth. A crosscourt
smash got Audina her seventh point and the equalizer came when she engaged
Gong in a driveshot exchange and won.
Audina moved ahead of Gong and reached game point when another hairpin net
shot set up a crosscourt push shot winner that Gong could not reach.
Gong saved one game point with a crosscourt drop that Audina failed to
return. The she scored on a rally-ending round-the-head crosscourt drop.
Audina though kept her from forcing deuce with a round-the-head smash. Audina
again served for the game but a determined Gong went on the attack. Audina was
able to turn the attack and got Gong into a drive exchange. Once again, Gong
lost out and hit a drive reply wide to hand Audina game one.
In the second, Audina got a slight lead early. Gong came back and knotted the
set at 5-all and then at 7-all. Audina then regained the lead 8-7 and 9-7. The
Chinese player fought hard to regain the serve. With very tight net shots, she
set up at least two smash opportunities. She was unable to convert both times
and had to to maneuver Audina again and again into the net. She finally got in
an even tighter net shot and Audina hit a very short lift. Gong struck at the
shuttle with full force but her smash found the net instead of the floor.
Gong's mistake had put Audina at match point and Gong expressed her extreme
disappointment at her unforced error.
Grimly determined, Gong went back to work. She rallied with Audina and forced
the Indonesian into a net error. Audina was just as determined to win and she
got the service back with a half-smash.
Audina was at match point again. She and Gong engaged in a long and furious
rally, Audina trying to put Gong away and Gong trying to save. The frenetic
exchange seemed to exhaust Audina and she finally could only poke at the
shuttle. She hit a very loose shot and Gong pounded it to the floor to save
Audina was not the same player after that furious rally. She asked for and
got a towel break during which she was bent over, resting on an advertising
board, trying to recover her breath. She had hit the proverbial "wall".
Gong too was not the same player after that rally. She sensed that Audina was
out of gas and that she had a winnable game and perhaps a winnable match.
The Chinese player went on to force deuce at 10-all, hitting shots that the
Indonesian did not have the energy to reach. The setting was more of the same,
with Gong scoring the two points she needed to win, first on a smash beyond
the Indonesian's forehand and the second on an errant crosscourt block attempt
from the tired Audina.
The five-minute break did not do Audina much good. Gong got off to a 3-0 lead
and never looked back, specially with Audina unable to sustain a long rally.
Audina's troubles were compounded when she was faulted for moving before the
serve and was penalized a point, putting Gong even further ahead at 7-4.
Gong methodically increased her advantage. Leading at 9-4, she engaged Audina
in a cross court clear and drop rally which the exhausted Indonesian ended
with a failed hairpin net shot attempt.
Now it was Gong who had not just match point, but Uber Cup point.
Gong wasted one match point when she misjudged an Audina lift and let it land
inbounds. On Audina's service turn, Gong went on the attack. Audina managed to
block Gong's shots and was able to turn the rally. Gong was forced to lift the
shuttle but Audina was too tired to capitalize. She tried a sliced smash but
she could not control the shuttle and she sent it wide.
Gong was at Uber Cup point again.
Gong served for the match and, in the short rally that ensued, the desperate
and exhausted Audina sent a crosscourt dropshot out-of-bounds.
Gong had won the match. China, the Chinese women's badminton team, and the
many Chinese supporters in the audience were in Uber Cup heaven.
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