Nielsen pulls off a surprise

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The Independent Online
Anders Nielsen upset the seedings, delighted the home crowd and produced one of the best wins of his career by beating the fifth-seeded Chinese, Dong Jiong, in the first round of the Yonex All-England Championships at the National Indoor Arena here yesterday.

Alhough he subsequently lost to the Dutch world No 19, Jeroen van Dijk, 15-7, 10-15, 15-9, despite recovering from 3-9 down in the second game, Nielsen, who unexpectedly won the English national title last month, has rarely played better than in his 15-10, 15-8 victory over the 21-year-old from Peking.

Dong, who beat the world's best to win the Asia Cup last year, was not at his best yesterday. Several times he misjudged high clears and twice rushed the serve so obviously that he enabled Nielsen to deliver spectacular flicks for winners.

However, Dong also showed how dangerous he could be with some startling jump smashes, and a clear run from 13-2 down to 13-10 in the first game. Nielsen did well to halt the revival before the match got beyond him.

The 28-year-old from Wimbledon also played with steadiness and imagination, mixing up the patterns of his attack and often wrong-footing his opponent. "I felt confident after winning the nationals and I was quite fit after the training I did in December," Nielsen said. "When you are both fit and confident, you always have a chance in the first round of the All- England, no matter who you are playing."

Nielsen's confidence was also lifted by the capture of the important first game, assisted by two round-the-head drops into the net by Dong and a mistake in letting a high clear fall into court. The Englishman led 5-1 in the second game, slipped to 6-5, but then once he surged to 11-7, Dong became increasingly prone to errors during his spectacular attacks.

Nielsen's great rival, Darren Hall, the seven-times former national champion, also reached the second round, overcoming Sweden's Jesper Olsson 15-7, 15-2.

Later though, Hall too lost his second-round match, beaten by the World Grand Prix titleholder from Indonesia, Ardy Wiranata, 18-15, 15-7.