Sat, Mar 10, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Chinese pair live up to expectations at All-England Open

AFP , BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND

Lin Dan (林丹) and Xie Xingfang, (謝杏芳) the two top-seeded titleholders and one of China's most famous sporting couples, reached the quarter-finals of the All-England Open on Thursday.

The two celebrated by going on Birmingham's big wheel together after winning the men's and women's singles titles within a couple of hours of each other last year, and their straight games victories Thursday created visions of another combination of success and romance in tomorrow's finals.

Lin looked determined to reassert himself as the world's best player as he advanced with impressive changes of gear during a 21-14, 21-18 win over Simon Santoso, a nimble Indonesian qualifier, while Xie overcame Salakjit, a Thai qualifier, 21-11, 21-10, appearing not to use a couple of gears at all.

Xie seemed pleased to do enough to control the rallies and to dominate her opponent, while saving her energies for possible tougher struggles to come.

"I deal with the pressure of the situation on court better than anyone else," she said. "I choose the right shot without taking too many chances and not all of my opponents do that."

Lin appeared keen both to defend the world's oldest title and to return to the winner's podium after his unexpected failure in the last Super Series tournament in Kuala Lumpur.

There the surprising left-hander was beaten in the second round; here he advanced to the quarter-finals with a performance which displayed what a uniquely versatile competitor he is.

Lin played at different paces, accelerating when he felt that he needed a run of points, and hitting at different speeds, which was demoralizing for Santoso, even though he stuck to his task as best he could.

"The match was fine -- it wasn't too hard," Lin said.

Lin's next opponent is Sony Dwi Kuncoro, who beat number eight seed Muhammad Hafiz Hashim.

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