Badminton: Doubles holds the key

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The Independent Online
Chris Hunt and Simon Archer, surprise winners of the European men's doubles title last year, may be England's key to survival amongst the lite in the World Championships which start in Lausanne today. Hunt and Archer, now No 6 in the world rankings, could be required to play the crucial match on Saturday which decides whether or not their country can remain in the top group of the Sudirman Cup world team event.

The group is divided into two halves, and it would take an exceptional performance for England to conquer either Korea, the holders, or China, who are trying to regain their status as the sport's leading nation, in pool A. A play-off seems likely on Saturday for the relegation place, probably against Thailand. The men's doubles against the world No 8 partnership, Thongsari and Teerawiwanata, could well decide such a match.

England's strength is in the three doubles, with Joanne Wright and Julie Bradbury now at No 5 in the women's doubles, and Wright and Nick Ponting - last year's All England mixed doubles champions - at No 7 in the world. But all three partnerships will need to perform well for England's singles positions are a worry.

Indonesia, who have the world's top-ranked players in men's and women's singles and in men's doubles, are the favourites, although the Danes, who have one of the most unexpected All England champions in Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen, are capable of causing upsets. The individual events start next week.