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03-10-2004, 10:20 PM #1
NEWS : Xia goes down in flames to Welsh dragon
Xia goes down in flames to Welsh dragon
BIRMINGHAM, England : Xia Xuanze, who won the world title in this same British national indoor arena seven months ago, became the shock first day victim at the All-England Open, the prestigious 105-year-old event which is the world's longest surviving tournament.
Xia was not the only leading fancy to go out as the man he beat in the world final Wong Choon Han of Malaysia exited to compatriot and defending All-England champion Muhammad Hafiz Hashim.
England's Pakistan-born player Aamir Gahffar downed China's eighth-seed Bao Chunlai.
Xia was beaten 15-9, 7-15, 15-10 by Richard Vaughan, the former top ten player from Wales who thought his career might be over after hip surgery the year before last.
Vaughan was on crutches for three months and reckons he is physically still only 75 percent of what he was, yet came from 8-5 down in the final game for his career-best success.
"It was a new kind of operation and the surgeon couldn't tell how long I would be out," said Vaughan.
"I couldn't walk for a long time. But I'm actually playing better than before."
Some of this improvement he attributes to a Chinese coach, Zhou Jun-Ling, who has moved to Wales, and helped develop Vaughan's technique, particularly around the net.
At the start of the third game Zhou advised him to go for quick points.
"I felt my legs were tired, but this was a way of putting Xia under pressure and it gave me confidence," said Vaughan.
It was also this which helped him play his way back from 8-5 down at the change of ends in the final game.
When that happened Xia, who had to come from a game and 3-1 down to get into a position where it seemed he might win the match, faded dramatically.
This may have been related to his 79-minute match against the 19-year-old Korean Park Sung-Hwan earlier in the day, when Xia came from a game and 5-1 down to win 14-17, 15-12, 15-7.
The world number 29 started to worry the fifth seed when he saved a game point at 11-14 in the first game, and pushed on to take four points in a row.
The demonstrative Xia indicated his annoyance on the third of these, which brought the scores level at 14-14 and was decided by a Park lift from the net which landed on the edge of the baseline.
Xia thought it was out, and waved his arms and shrieked before walking around in a circle.
Encouraged, Park increased his ratio of attacks and in a protracted 11-point tie-breaker established a temporary mental advantage over his opponent.
That lasted for the first six points of the second game, at which stage it seemed that Xia, who won the All-England title here four years ago, might be about to produce some further eruptions.
But just at this crucial time Park started to make some errors, perhaps pressurised by the tremendous speed with which Xia conducted many of the rallies.
Quickly the lead evaporated and with it the psychological advantage he had established.
Xia was ahead at 8-7 and kept his nose in front even though Park hung in well and narrowed a four-point deficit to two just before the end of the second game.
Park also erased a third game deficit of 5-0 to lead 6-5, but his revival was brief, and the effort appeared to drain him.
Xia took seven points in a row and one of them, which got him to 11-6, saw the world champion produce a spectacular jump smash which set up a dramatic lunging kill at the net.
Later another Chinese front-runner was beaten.
Bao, last week's Swiss Open finalist, was also unable to cope with two matches in a day, losing 7-15, 15-10, 15-3 in the second round to Ghaffar.
Bao fell away disappointingly in the final game, looking leaden-footed and once putting the shuttle into the net with his opponent full length on the ground.
But for the lively Ghaffar it was the best win of his career, and enabled him to follow his fellow Briton, Vaughan, as an unexpected home survivor in the last 16.
A third leading contender to be shown the exit was Hann, the fourth seeded Malaysian.
Wong was overwhelmed 15-3, 15-3 by Hashim.
Lin Dan, the top-seeded world number one from China, had to recover from 9-3 down in the first game to Irwansyah, the Indonesian, who represents Wales since joining the principality's coaching staff, to win 15-11, 15-5.
Another leading Chinese player to make a laboured start was the former All-England champion Chen Hong, who looked less than fully fit as he went 10-8 down in the final game to Dicky Palyama, the Dutch player of Indonesian parentage, before surviving 15-7, 3-15, 15-11.
03-10-2004, 10:22 PM #2
not much on the match between WCH and Hafiz.
but from the description of the Xia and Bao matches, their opponents won against them fair and square.
03-10-2004, 10:25 PM #3
All England is always full of suprises. Understandable that Xia lost.. but bao? just runner up at swiss and now lost? Oh man.. i think the other players must have improved alot.. maybe also home ground support.
03-10-2004, 10:32 PM #4
Anyone who does not know a future.
Xia is poor~ ,
It will be difficult that he participates to Olympic.
03-10-2004, 11:45 PM #5
Very dissapointing!! I had picked Xia as a finalist in Kwun's All-England 04 "guess the finalists" contest. Oh well, at least Lin still looks poised to get me some points!!
03-11-2004, 03:11 AM #6
I watched all three of these singles matches last night and have to say that Xia was outplayed, especially around the net. He didn't seem to have that extra gear but also Richard Vaughn played very well (even with strapping on his right leg). Bao seemed to be cruising in the first game but then tired in the 2nd and 3rd - he did miss a lot of easy sitters thought when Ghaffar was stranded.
WCH against Hafiz was a strange one - each time I looked over to see a rally WCH would win but Hafiz played really well each time WCH had serve and so seemed to race to a 14-1 lead. Both sets followed the same pattern, and Hafiz was definitely the more fired up of the 2.
Just as an aside I watched Peter Gade's game and was pretty amazed how much his style has changed since before his injury - gone are the jump smashes and he was concentrating more on moving his opponent around using a lot of punch clears and being faster on the net area.
03-11-2004, 03:13 AM #7
Excitement dragging me down!
The excitement now prevailing in the AE is causing me sleepness nights, with so many seeds falling by the wayside and the UK is suddenly pushed into the limelight with their 'shocking' successes. I confess that I find it difficult not to be distracted catching the results LIVE over the BAofE website. I'm afraid my IBF draft will be delayed. You must have noted that the IBF Council will have an election of some councillors during this time too! So our recommendations to them may be better received after they are settled internally.
Sorry that my draft will not come in time. Please be patient and join me in concentrating on the AE. Will there be more surprises? We will soon see!
03-11-2004, 03:19 AM #8
Steplantis, thanks for the update! holds much more weight than most of us who are just talking blind. (but exciting non-the-less... )
Loh, no problem. more time for a well prepared one is better! i too am not able to resist the temptation of the AE coverage. luckily most of it is in the day time for me. unluckily, day time is supposed to be working time and distraction is bad. i have made the initiative to turn off my own internet access at work just so i can concentrate! it feels like having a drug addiction!
03-11-2004, 03:37 AM #9
As your location is in Cardiff, I thought you watched the AE proceedings on TV. But when you described the matches in some detail and you mentioned some other matches, particularly the one concerning Gade, I then realised that you must be in Birmingham (?), the actual AE venue, in person!
How I wished I could join you. How many more days will you be there - till the Finals?
Do report more interesting observations and enjoy!
Thanks for your understanding.
03-12-2004, 10:09 AM #10
I wish I could spend the whole week there, but work is always in the way I'm planning to go tomorrow to watch the Semi's, and just hope that Gade makes it through his quarter against Roslin tonight.
My only explanation for the Chinese mens singles poor form would be that they have been in intensive training with the Olympics in mind and the All England has "got in the way" of that. Probably more likely in Xia's case was injury but Bao just looked tired towards the end of his game.
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