Commonwealth Games: Nielsen gets it right in fight with Wong: James Leigh reports from Victoria, Canada

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A BRAVE performance by Anders Nielsen helped England overcome some early hiccoughs before living up to their reputation as favourites for the badminton gold medal here yesterday.

The top-seeded title holders beat Hong Kong 4-1, but England would have been in trouble had not Nielsen beaten an opponent who had got the better of him in both their previous meetings.

The European bronze medallist from Surrey beat Wong Wai Lap, 15-6 10-15 15-8, recovering from a difficult spell in the middle of the match during which the Hong Kong player scored well at the net. 'I guess that I was a little bit tight. It took me time to start to move right and to flow,' Nielsen said.

After that Nielsen began to move more freely and found himself able to deny Wong further opportunities in that area by hustling the rallies along more quickly.

'We needed that win,' the England manager, Ciro Ciniglio, said. 'We could have been in difficulties but for that'. Indeed, England might have gone 2-0 down. Shortly after Nielsen's triumph, Joanne Muggeridge was unexpectedly outplayed 11-5 11-4 in the women's singles.

Then, in the fourth encounter, the Olympic women's doubles quarter-finalist Gill Clark and Julie Bradbury were taken to three games by Wong Chun Fan and Tung Chau Man.

However, England's superiority in doubles eventually proved decisive. Even without his fellow European men's doubles champion, Simon Archer, who has an injured ankle, Chris Hunt still won well, making an equally effective pairing with Nick Ponting.

The All England mixed doubles champions, Ponting and Joanne Wright, then won the final dead encounter.