Japanese duo upset defending champions

The Japanese duo of Miyuki Maeda and Satoko Suetsuna cause a huge upset in the women's doubles event.
Miyuki Maeda and Satoko Suetsuna celebrate victory.
Miyuki Maeda and Satoko Suetsuna celebrate victory.

BEIJING // The Japanese duo of Miyuki Maeda and Satoko Suetsuna upset defending Olympic champions Yang Wei and Zhang Jiewen of China today to advance to the women's doubles badminton semi-finals. Maeda and Suetsuna, who are unseeded, took advantage of unforced errors by the top-seeded Chinese duo en route to an 8-21, 23-21, 21-14 win at Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium. After they won, both Maeda and Suetsuna bowed deeply in the centre of the court. "This is the biggest win of our lives," Suetsuna said. "They are the Olympic champions so even when we had match point we couldn't take anything for granted." It was the first major setback of the tournament for the host nation which is looking to dominate on home soil after winning three out of five gold medals in Athens. "We couldn't focus in the third set," said Yang. "We just made too many unforced errors." Kumiko Ogura and Reiko Shiota of Japan, who are scheduled to play later today, are sixth in the world rankings and hugely popular in their own country. Few had expected such a strong showing from Maeda and Suetsuna, who are eighth in the rankings. Earlier, the Malaysian Lee Chong Wei defeated Ronald Susilo of Singapore in the second round of men's singles. Second-seeded Lee, who is bidding for Malaysia's first Olympic gold medal, downed Susilo 21-13, 21-14. "I was nervous at first but got more confidence as the game went on," said Lee, a favourite to win the tournament. "There is a lot of pressure on me here to get a medal." Susilo upset Lin in the first round four years ago in Athens but was no match for Lee's powerful smashes. Top-seeded Lin Dan of China will play his first match later Monday, taking on unseeded Ng Wei of Hong Kong. The South Korean Lee Hyun-il defeated the fifth seed Kenneth Jonassen 15-21, 21-14, 21-19 while third-seeded Bao Chunlai of China defeated the Guatemalan Kevin Gordon 21-17, 21-16. Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia, who is seeded sixth, defeated Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand 21-16, 21-14. In women's singles, the unseeded Indonesian Kristen Maria Yulianti upset sixth-seeded Tine Rasmussen of Denmark 18-21, 21-19, 21-14 to advance to the quarter-finals. "I was a little nervous but it's the Olympics and everyone has to deal with that," said Rasmussen. "I didn't play my best today and she took advantage." Defending Olympic champion and second-seeded Zhang Ning of China also advanced with a 21-11, 21-12 win over the South Korean Jun Jae-youn. Fifth-seeded Pi Hongyan of France got past Eriko Hirose of Japan 21-12, 16-21, 21-6. *AP

Published: August 11, 2008 04:00 AM


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