Xie, Zhang advance to badminton final

Aug. 15, 2008, 3:25 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Top-seeded Xie Xingfang and defending champion Zhang Ning both advanced to the final Friday, assuring China the gold and silver medals in women's singles at the Olympic badminton tournament.

Xie recovered from a shaky start to defeat third-seeded Lu Lan of China 7-21, 21-10, 21-12. Second-seeded Zhang overpowered Indonesia's Maria Kristen Yulianti 21-15, 21-15 at Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium.

Xie took advantage of some costly mistakes by Lu after struggling with the wind in the first game.

"Lu was nervous in the third game and made a few mistakes," said Xie. "I had a little trouble with the wind in the first game but was able to adjust by the third."

China won three of five gold medals in Athens and is looking to improve on that tally here.

Xie's boyfriend, top-seeded Lin Dan, advanced to the semifinals of men's singles on Thursday.

Hoping for double gold from China's first couple of badminton, the crowd became more vocal as Xie took the lead in the third game.

A Xie drop shot at the net that made it 8-all was met with chants of "Xie Xingfang Jia You!" (Let's go Xie Xingfang).

Lin will face compatriot Chen Jin later Friday in the semifinals of men's singles.

Xie used her superior reach and powerful smashes to take control of the match against Lu, scoring seven straight points in the second game to take a commanding 16-5 lead.

Zhang overpowered the unseeded Yulianti.

The 33-year-old Zhang, who is playing in her last Olympics, closed out the match with a powerful cross-court smash and then received a bouquet of flowers from her husband.

China's badminton coach Li Yongbo took a risk selecting Zhang over 2007 world champion Zhu Lin.

Zhu is currently ranked No. 3 in the world while Zhang is only ranked at No. 7 due to her absence from key tournaments this year because of injury.

Lu and Yulianti will meet in the bronze medal game on Saturday where China will have a chance to sweep the podium.

In men's doubles, the top-seeded pair of Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia advanced to the finals with a 21-19, 21-17 win over Danes Lars Paaske and Jonas Rasmussen.

Later Friday, China's Du Jing and Yu Yang will meet South Koreans Lee Hyo-jung and Lee Kyung-won in the gold medal game of women's doubles.