Monday, June 25, 2007

Sudirman Cup & England

ENGLAND have a great chance of making the semi-finals of the Sudirman Cup for the first time - and that's after just one match.

But what a match as their doubles stars once again picked up the points to produce a 3-2 victory over Malaysia in their opening Division 1A match in Glasgow's Scotstoun International Sports Arena.

Even though they face holders and five-times winners China on Tuesday, Ian Wright's team know a win over Thailand can book them that place in the last four.

Gail Emms and Donna Kellogg were the heroines after saving two match points in beating Wong Pei Tty and Eei Hui Chin 22-20 18-21 23-21 in the night's decider.

Emms had got England off to a flying start when she and Nathan Robertson, the world and Commonwealth champions, maintained their unbeaten record in live rubbers by winning the opening mixed doubles.

But Malaysia's strength in singles proved too much for world No 19 Andrew Smith and Commonwealth gold medallist Tracey Hallam.

Then came the fightback. First world silver medallists Robert Blair and Anthony Clark got England level when they beat world No 2 pair Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong, winning 18-21 21-16

Then it was left to European champions Emms and Kellogg to finish the job by beating Wong and Eei.

Clark said of their battling display: “We played them recently in Korea and had a very close match but we lost on fitness but we didn’t go down at all tonight.

“We have got a new coach who has changed our training and taught us the new ways that the top Asian players are training, and already it has make a big difference not just to our fitness but to our mental approach to the game.

And Blair added: “We had to win to keep the match alive and they were big favourites but once it started to get close we seemed to improve our levels.”

Kellogg said of their nerve-jangler: "It was fantastic It was fantastic for myself and Gail to take the match. Everybody put in some great performances and to beat Malaysia is tremendous."

Head coach Ian Wright said: "We've had really good preparation, a good team spirit, two world-class doubles performances in the level doubles and we are now looking forward to taking on China tomorrow.

"If we want to be taken seriously as world contenders we have to try to compete against teams like China. We won't be putting out a weak team like Thailand did tonight."

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