Denmark's hopes dwindle as Gade goes
Peter Gade, the world number one from Denmark, lost his title when he was brought down in the quarter-finals of the All-England championships in Birmingham by the young and improving world number 11 from China, Ji Xinpeng, a result which ensured there would be two new champions this year. Gade, who faded surprisingly in the second and third games, was beaten 15-17,15-2,15-5, and later said that he was tired after a hard five month's of competition. But Ji, whose fitness, long reach and startling reactions in defence proved to be resilient attributes, stretched the contest to 66 draining minutes and contributed a great deal to the champion's tiredness. Indeed the 22-year-old world number 11 might have won more comfortably had he converted two game points in the first game, in which he led 14-10. "If I was to beat him I needed to be at my best," admitted Gade. "He didn't make any mistakes and sometimes you can't do much about that. "In the second and third games there didn't seem to be much left in me. Of course I am very disappointed and I would like to have gone to the final, but I can't go on for ever." The commitment and concentration in the Chinese player's performance was very evident and may have been heightened by the possibility of being able to snatch the last of the three Olympic qualifying places which seem likely to be available to China in men's singles. Ji's run this week may see him climbing the world's top ten, and if he does China's world champion Sun Jun will drop out of the Olympic places, temporarily at least. The qualifying cut-off date is at the end of April. Gade's loss followed the defeat the day before of the three times women's singles champion, Ye Zhaoying. It also ensured there would be a Chinese man in Sunday's men's singles final. That is because Ji Xinpeng next plays his compatriot Xia Xuanze, while the other semi-final will be between last year's losing finalist, the 18-year-old Indonesian Taufik Hidayat, and the losing finalist in the World Championships, Fung Permadi of Chinese Taipei. The women's semi-finals see Ye's conqueror, Mia Audina of The Netherlands, line up against the former world silver medallist from China, Gong Zhichao, while another Chinese player, Dai Yun, has a chance of revenge for her defeat in the world final ten months ago to Denmark's Camilla Martin. However the world champion nearly did not make the semi-finals, trailing by a game and 7-8 to the former world junior champion from China, Gong Ruina, and staving off her opponent's final game recovery from 6-9 to 9-9 before squeezing through 10-13,11-8,11-9.