US players Malaythong, Bach lose in badminton
BEIJING (AP) Bob Malaythong and Howard Bach of the United States received a taste of China's badminton supremacy on Wednesday, losing to the second-seeded pair of Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng in the quarterfinals of the Olympic badminton tournament.
The Chinese pair raced out to an 8-1 lead in the first game and never looked back on their way to a 21-9, 21-10 win over the unseeded Americans.
"They are world-class players and we expected nothing less," Bach said. "They converted on every opportunity they had."
Cai and Fu will meet Lee Jae-jin and Hwang Ji-man of South Korea in Friday's semifinals of men's doubles. Lee and Hwang defeated Japan's Keita Masuda and Tadashi Ohtsuka 21-12, 18-21, 21-9 in an earlier match.
Malaythong and Bach settled down in the second game and held an 8-7 lead at one point, but the Chinese pair rallied and took an 11-8 advantage at the break.
A monster smash by Cai made it 14-9 and Malaythong threw his racket in the air in frustration.
Chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" were met with boos by the flag-waving crowd at Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium.
Bach said he was taken aback by the booing.
"I was surprised," Bach said. "I wouldn't call it bad sportsmanship, they just wanted everything for their players and it's the same everywhere you go."
The Chinese players were diplomatic in their assessment of the match.
"We didn't underestimate them," Fu said. "You never know what's going to happen in the Olympics, so we took it seriously."
By reaching the quarterfinals with a 21-10, 21-16 win over Chris and Roelof Dednam of South Africa on Tuesday, Malaythong and Bach advanced further than any American ever has in the Olympic badminton tournament.
In women's singles, defending Olympic champion Zhang Ning of China defeated France's Pi Hongyan in three games to advance to the semifinals.
The second-seeded Zhang fought off a determined effort from Pi on her way to a 21-8, 19-21, 21-19 win.
Zhang had three match points in the final game and finally finished Pi off with a cross-court smash that the fifth-seeded player returned into the net.
Zhang will face Indonesia's Maria Kristin Yulianti in the semifinals on Friday. Yulianti booked a place in the semis with a 26-28, 21-14, 21-15 win over India's Saina Nehwal.
China coach Li Yongbo selected Zhang for the Olympic team over 2007 world champion Zhu Lin, who is ranked No. 3 in the world.
The 33-year-old Zhang is only ranked at No. 7 due to her absence from key tournaments this year because of injury, but the decision looks to be a good one so far for Li.
China won three out of five gold medals in Athens and is looking to dominate the badminton tournament on home soil.
Xie Xingfang, who is top-seeded in women's singles, will play later Wednesday.
In women's doubles, fourth-seeded Lee Hyo-jung and Lee Kyung-won defeated Japan's Miyuki Maeda and Satoko Suetsuna 22-20, 21-15.
The highlight of the match was a marathon rally that decided the first game. After an extended exchange, South Korea prevailed when Lee Hyo-jung's lob to the backcourt landed right in between the Japanese players, a good six inches inside the line.
Maeda and Suetsuna upset defending Olympic champions Yang Wei and Zhang Jiewen of China to advance to the semifinals.