Sat, Jun 16, 2007 - Page 20 News List

England reach Sudirman Cup semi-finals

AFP , GLASGOW

England reached the semi-finals of the Sudirman Cup World Team Championships for the first time with a 4-1 win over Thailand in their final Division 1 Group A match on Thursday. England's reward is a tie against the 1989 champions Indonesia for a place in the final.

England's Robert Blair and Anthony Clark, the World Championship silver medalists, clinched the place in the last four with a three game win over Tesana Panvisavas and Songphon Anugritayawon in the men's doubles.

Mixed doubles

The opening mixed doubles rubber proved to be key. World Champions Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms lost the first game against Thailand's Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam. But, with the help of a sizeable English support in the crowd, they battled back to win 19-21, 21-16, 21-17.

Boonsak Ponsana managed to level the scores with a 23-21, 21-13 triumph over Andrew Smith, but Tracey Hallam, who has won three titles in a comeback from injury over the past couple of months, gave England a precious lead with a 21-13, 21-18 victory over Salajakit Ponsana.

Blair admitted it was a huge relief to pull off the victory.

`Great job'

"Tracey had done a great job in putting us in front," the 25-year-old said. "It's great to be involved at the weekend and I think we have a chance against Indonesia."

"We could win all the doubles and if Tracey can play as well again then we could do really well," Blair said. "Getting to the semi-finals is really better than we expected. But now we have a chance to make the final. It's fantastic."

Hallam, the Commonwealth Games Champion, was equally pleased.

"We're traditionally so much stronger in doubles that it's rather nice to get a win in the singles," said the 32-year-old, who has climbed from the mid-40s to No. 22 in the world rankings after recent wins in tournaments in Israel, Vietnam and France.

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