Tag Archives: powerhouse

Audley Harrison knocked out by Deontay Wilder

Harrison ready to hang up his gloves after being knocked out in just 70 seconds by American powerhouse Wilder

By
Martin Domin

PUBLISHED:

20:35 GMT, 27 April 2013

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UPDATED:

23:08 GMT, 27 April 2013

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Audley Harrison admitted the end may finally be nigh after he was stopped by knockout artist Deontay Wilder inside 70 seconds in Sheffield on Saturday night.

The London heavyweight's latest comeback ended in farcical scenes reminiscent of his defeat to David Price last year.

The 41-year-old accepted that his world title dream is over and it could be time to hang up his gloves.

Furious: American Deontay Wilder gave Audley Harrison a barage of punches

Furious: American Deontay Wilder gave Audley Harrison a barage of punches

Flurry: Once Harrison was down there was no stopping Wilder who kept coming

Flurry: Once Harrison was down there was no stopping Wilder who kept coming

Harrison said: 'I think this time it is probably the end.

'There are only so many times I go knocking on doors. I've smashed those doors down in the past and shown tremendous fortitude.

'But this comeback took everything I had and I've been knocked out in the first round again.

'I will go away and think about it and talk to my family, but I don't
know if I can put myself through it, or put my family through it.

'I have to accept that age the age of 41 I'm not going to get many more
chances, but if it is the end I can be proud of what I've done, winning
the Olympic title and the European title.

'I always said if I prepared right and came in for a fight fully focused
and I was beaten then that would be it. I fought a guy with 27 knockout
wins and I became number 28.

'I will go away and think about it but I think it is probably the end.'

Finished: Harrison didn't understand the decision to stop the fight so soon

Finished: Harrison didn't understand the decision to stop the fight so soon

Harrison looked to be heading for
retirement when he was blasted out in just 82 seconds by Price last
October but returned to the ring in February to win his second
Prizefighter tournament at London's York Hall.

His opponents that night – Derric
Rossy, Martin Rogan and Claus Bertino – looked a long way short of world
class but Harrison insisted that even at his advanced age, he could
still reach the pinnacle of the sport.

Having
won gold at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, he was crowned European
champion three years ago but has consistently fallen short at the
highest level and lost to David Haye in a world title challenge in 2010
having barely thrown a punch.

Wilder meanwhile had raced to a record 27 stoppage victories from as many contests since turning professional on the back of a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The 27-year-old from Alabama has been criticised for his apparently padded record but only eight of his previous opponents had losing records.

His victory over Harrison will have done little to alter that perception as he plots a route to the top of the division.

Up and down: The careers of Wilder and Harrison are set to go in completely different directions

Up and down: The careers of Wilder and Harrison are set to go in completely different directions

The American was given a hostile reception by the crowd as he entered the ring but had won them over just a few minutes later.

After a slow start in which neither fighter made an impact, Wilder looked to let go with his right hand and as if on cue, Harrison slumped down by the corner.

He struggled to get up as the count sounded and the contest was waved off by the referee.

'I got up, I beat the count. I wanted to continue – 100 per cent,' Harrison said. 'I had my senses about me and I was still in the fight.

'It's looking like the end.'

Australian Open 2012: Novak Djokovic reached quarter-finals after beating Stanislas Wawrinka in five sets

Djokovic survives scare from Swiss No 2 Wawrinka as he comes through early morning marathon

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

14:43 GMT, 20 January 2013

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UPDATED:

19:07 GMT, 20 January 2013

It was 1.42am when we saw the shirt ripped off and Novak Djokovic reveal that increasingly familiar torso – the sight which says: ‘You just can’t beat me’.

Stanislas Wawrinka had played like a raging bull for five hours and two minutes, cutting and thrusting with a brutal forehand and elegant backhand. Still it was not enough to finish off a competitor whose spirit makes him stand alongside the greats of the game.

An astonishing half-volleyed paddle at a sharp angle delivered the final blow and Djokovic had made it into the last eight of the Australian Open with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7, 12-10 victory against the No 15 seed.

Time to relax: Novak Djokovic tweeted this picture of his post-match massage after seeing off Stanislas Wawrinka in an epic five-setter

Time to relax: Novak Djokovic tweeted this picture of his post-match massage after seeing off Stanislas Wawrinka in an epic five-setter

 Djokovic celebrated in his usual manner, ripping his shirt off after taking the fifth set 12-10

Winner: Djokovic celebrated in his usual manner, ripping his shirt off after taking the fifth set 12-10

It took until the early hours of the morning for Djokovic and Wawrinka to complete their five-set marathon

Tired: It took until the early hours of the morning for these two to complete their five-set marathon

Wawrinka won the fourth set tie-break and broke early in the second set, but Djokovic came back to win

Wawrinka won the fourth set tie-break and broke early in the second set, but Djokovic came back to win

So close: Wawrinka won the fourth set tie-break and broke early in the second set, but Djokovic came back to win

The Swiss had been given a fairly easy ride so far, but the World No 1 was always going to be a tough challenge

Shock to the system: The Swiss had been given a fairly easy ride so far, but the World No 1 was always going to be a tough challenge

January is not done, but already there
is a contender for match of the year and, unquestionably, the match of
the year’s first Grand Slam. The 25 year-old Serb is through to face
Tomas Berdych and how much of a toll this has taken remains to be seen.

Last year he managed to rebound from a
match of four hours, 50 minutes against Andy Murray in the last four to
overcome Rafael Nadal and win the final in five hours, 53 minutes. So
there is no reason for the 27-year-old Czech powerhouse to think that
some of the work has been done for him.

Murray’s effort in the US Open final,
when he emphatically put Djokovic away in the fifth set and caused him
to severely cramp, was left looking all the more impressive by the
Serb’s typical refusal to submit and the way his body held up.

The 25-year-old Scot was this morning
due to play Gilles Simon, who featured in another late-night epic on
Saturday against compatriot Gael Monfils, although that was not in the
same bracket of quality as this five- part drama.

Wawrinka, Switzerland’s eternal
bridesmaid to Roger Federer, did everything but win this match and again
showed that he is capable of causing extreme discomfort to the very
best players if they are slightly below their top level.

The Serb is attempting to win his third consecutive Australian Open, which no man has managed before

Big dreams: The Serb is attempting to win his third consecutive Australian Open, which no man has managed before

There were five deuces in Wawrinka's final service game, and the Swiss played a stunning final rally, but Djokovic was just too good

There were five deuces in Wawrinka's final service game, and the Swiss played a stunning final rally, but Djokovic was just too good

Shattered: There were five deuces in Wawrinka's final service game, and the Swiss played a stunning final rally, but Djokovic was just too good

Djokovic felt that his experience of
these situations was the difference. ‘In the end these kind of matches
help your confidence, they are what you live for and practise for,’ he
said.

‘I had a flashback of the 2012 finals.
I feel sorry that one of us had to lose, but I am just thrilled that I
was able to fight up until the last moment.’

That Wawrinka cannot quite deliver the
knockout punch explains why he has spent much of his career just
outside the top 10. ‘It was the best match I have ever played and the
worst I’ve ever felt afterwards,’ he said. ‘I fought like a dog.’ He
will look upon the four break points he created at 4-4 in the deciding
set and ponder how he failed to make one count, particularly the last of
them.

That was when he drilled an unplayable
service return onto the baseline only for the line judge to mistakenly
call it out. Wawrinka had one Hawkeye challenge left but neglected to
use it. Umpire Enrique Molina declined to over-rule and his foe escaped.

Whether he would have gone on to serve
out the match we will never know and such is Djokovic’s capacity to get
himself out of scrapes that it cannot be assumed.

Djokovic has won the last two titles
here and, with the exception of September’s defeat in New York, not
lost in one of the hard-court Grand Slams since 2010.

Djokovic will face Czech Tomas Berdych in the quarters, after Berdych beat South African Kevin Anderson in straight sets

Quarter-finals: Djokovic will face Czech Tomas Berdych in the quarters, after Berdych beat South African Kevin Anderson in straight sets

had Wawrinka challenged a call, he would have been serving for the match

Lucky: had Wawrinka challenged a call, he would have been serving for the match

The final set ended as the clock approached 2am in Australia

The final set ended as the clock approached 2am in Australia

Exhausting: The final set ended as the clock approached 2am in Australia

It took more than five hours for the pair to finish their match in the Australian heat

Thrilling: It took more than five hours for the pair to finish their match in the Australian heat

His game is perfectly suited to absorb
what is thrown at him in this environment and the barrel-chested
Wawrinka hurled everything he could.

By the end it seemed a distant detail
that Djokovic had hardly helped himself by coming out with a defective
pair of shoes that caused him to slip all over the place in the first
set when faced with Wawrinka’s devastating start.

The Swiss took the first set in 25
minutes and served for the second at 5-3, by which time one of the
Serb’s gophers had brought him some new footwear. By then Wawrinka’s
certainty had faded and it could have all been over in the fourth set
but, unusually, his trademark backhand was more than backed up by
everything else in his game.

Only in the 24th game of the fifth set
did he crack and Djokovic clinched it on a third match point to the
delight of a Melbourne crowd who, not for the first time here, had
ignored thoughts of work to come later in the day.

Roger Federer is on in the same late
evening slot today against the powerful Canadian Milos Raonic as he
attempts to reach his 35th consecutive quarter final at a Grand Slam.

He will do so knowing that big danger still lurks in the other side of the draw – as hard to put away as ever.

Alfred N"Diaye joins Sunderland

Sunderland complete first signing of window as N'Diaye joins for 3m from Bursaspor

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

15:29 GMT, 9 January 2013

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UPDATED:

15:37 GMT, 9 January 2013

Sunderland have completed the signing of midfielder Alfred N'Diaye from Turkish side Bursaspor for 3m.

As revealed by Sportmail earlier this week, the 22-year-old has today signed a three-and-a-half year deal at the Stadium of Light after completing a medical and agreeing personal terms.

He is Martin O'Neill's first signing of the January transfer window.

New face: Alfred N'Diaye has joined Sunderland for 3m from Turkish side Bursaspor

New face: Alfred N'Diaye has joined Sunderland for 3m from Turkish side Bursaspor

N'Diaye started his career with Nancy
four years ago and moved to Turkey at the start of last season after
more than 60 appearances in the French top division.

O’Neill,
who is desperate for midfield cover for injured captain Lee Cattermole,
launched a bid for the ball-winning midfielder at the opening of the
transfer window.

Powerhouse: N'Diaye (left) passed a medical on Wearside today and could make his debut against West Ham this weekend

Powerhouse: N'Diaye (left) passed a medical on Wearside today and could make his debut against West Ham this weekend

He told his club's website: 'Alfred is a strong, powerful young player and as such can offer us more strength in depth.

'He will give us options and I'm delighted that we have been able to bring him to the club.'

N'Diaye could go straight into the squad for Saturday's home game with West Ham if he receives international clearance in time.

Harry Redknapp makes bid for Mohamed Diame

Redknapp makes Hammers raid for Diame as QPR boss begins January spree

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UPDATED:

12:01 GMT, 29 December 2012

Harry Redknapp has launched a raid for West Ham midfielder Mohamed Diame in a bid to secure QPR's Barclays Premier League lives.

The Senegal international has a 3.5million trigger clause written into his contract and Redknapp hopes he can tempt Diame across London.

The midfield powerhouse is just the kind of player the R's boss needs with his side languishing in the relegation zone.

Wanted man: Redknapp has made a bid for West Ham's Diame

Wanted man: Redknapp has made a bid for West Ham's Diame

The west London club have won just once in the league this term, despite a huge influx of new players in the summer.

And without a fresh injection of new blood in the January transfer window, they could be heading back into the Football league after two seasons in the top flight.

Diame has been an instant in east London after moving south from Wigan on a free last summer. But his future could now lay elsewhere after Redknapp laid out his desire to capture the Hammers star man.

His agent, Willie McKay, has laid out exactly why some player shave these low release triggers written into their contracts.

'The only reason some clubs have the players they have is because of a clause being inserted.' said McKay.

'They may make an offer that is less wages than another club has offered but because they allow a trigger clause then the player will sign with them.

'Diame was a free transfer and believed he could command a better salary than he was offered so to compensate for that the clause was put in so he could leave in six months time for 3.5million. That way the club can sell him at a quick profit or renegotiate.

Crocked: Diame is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury

Crocked: Diame is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury

'West Ham bought out Frederic Kanoute’s
clause and sold him for a profit; Wigan bought out Pascal Chimbonda’s at
2million and sold him to Tottenham for 4.5m.

'The thing is everyone is happy with the clauses at the outset otherwise a deal would not be signed. It’s only when things go wrong that people start saying they aren’t happy or it's the agents' fault.'

Diame is currently recovering from a hamstring tear – which he suffered in the defeat to Liverpool – but is expected to be fit enough to return in early January.

Under the cosh: Redknapp is facing an uphill battle to save QPR's Premier League skins

Under the cosh: Redknapp is facing a battle to save QPR's Premier League skins

Didier Drogba back at Chelsea to train

Bet Torres is glad to see you… Chelsea legend Drogba back to train over the winter (and maybe give some goalscoring lessons)

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UPDATED:

17:48 GMT, 5 December 2012

Didier Drogba has rejoined at Chelsea… but sadly for his adoring fans, it's only for some winter training.

He's not back to ease the pressure on the hapless Fernando Torres. Instead, he will simply train in the Chinese off-season.

The Shanghai Shenhua striker left Chelsea in the summer after providing a parting gift of the Champions League trophy.

Back but not in business: Didier Drogba has returned to Chelsea to train during the break between Chinese seasons

Back but not in business: Didier Drogba has returned to Chelsea to train during the break between Chinese seasons

Legend: Drogba is missed by the Stamford Bridge faithful, who parade this banner

Legend: Drogba is missed by the Stamford Bridge faithful, who parade this banner

Now, 200 days after that momentous triumph in Munich's Allianz Arena, he is back.

Wearing a training strip with Romelu Lukaku's No 18 on the front, Drogba is pictured with youngster Aziz Deen-Conteh.

Lukaku sees Drogba as his idol and the players are close – perhaps it is a hint to new boss Rafael Benitez to recall the Belgian powerhouse.

Tough times: Fernando Torres has struggled for goal - with and without Drogba

Tough times: Fernando Torres has struggled for goal – with and without Drogba

Backing: Drogba wore a training shirt with Romelu Lukaku's number

Backing: Drogba wore a training shirt with Romelu Lukaku's number

Whether Benitez had any say over Drogba's return to Chelsea is unknown – the pair certainly had their disagreements while the Spaniard was in charge of Liverpool.

He branded Drogba a diver and in return the Ivorian sent the Reds crashing out of the Champions League semi-final with a superb display.

West Ham face Mohamed Diame transfer fight over contract clause

EXCLUSIVE: West Ham face fight to keep star man Diame with transfer trigger clause in his contract

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UPDATED:

09:54 GMT, 3 December 2012

West Ham are fighting to keep explosive midfielder Mohamed Diame, who has an escape clause in his contract and could leave the club in January.

Talks are expected this week with the players’ agent but the free transfer signing from Wigan appears in no rush to sign a new deal.

In order to lure him to West Ham in the summer, the club were forced to agree a ‘trigger clause’ in his contract. The size of the clause is a closely-guarded secret at Upton Park, but rival clubs are circling and prepared to pay around 6million.

Trigger clause: West Ham could face a fight to keep hold of star man Mohamed Diame in January

Trigger clause: West Ham could face a fight to keep hold of star man Mohamed Diame in January

The player, who was compared by Jamie Redknapp as a cross between Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira, has been drawing attention from Liverpool and Everton.

After his powerhouse performance against Chelsea at the weekend, other clubs are expected to be interested and West Ham have a fight on their hands to keep him.

Diame arrived from the bench to turn the game in West Ham’s favour after they trailed 1-0. He scored in the second half and inspired a comeback that saw them win 3-1 and defeat Chelsea for the first time in ten years. He has also scored against Arsenal this season.

Man of the Mo-ment: Diame celebrates his goal during West Ham's 3-1 victory over Chelsea on Saturday

Man of the Mo-ment: Diame celebrates his goal during West Ham's 3-1 victory over Chelsea on Saturday

West Ham had a similar deal with Demba Ba, who exercised his escape clause when the club were relegated and joined Newcastle, where he has been a huge success.

Ba has scored eight times for the club in the Premier League this season.

Escape artist: Demba Ba left West Ham on a free transfer to Newcastle

Escape artist: Demba Ba left West Ham on a free transfer to Newcastle

US Open 2012: Serena Williams beats Sara Errani

Williams hammers Errani to set up US Open final clash with world No 1 Azarenka

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UPDATED:

00:17 GMT, 8 September 2012

Serena Williams will face world No 1 Victoria Azarenka in the US Open final on Saturday after the American ended the run of Sara Errani in a one-sided semi-final.

Williams triumphed 6-1 6-2 in one hour and four minutes in a match that could not have been more different to the earlier contest between Azarenka and Maria Sharapova which was a far closer affair.

Williams is looking for her fourth title at Flushing Meadows in her sixth final after losing to Sam Stosur last year, and she has lost only one of 10 previous meetings with Azarenka.

Easy does it: Serena Williams hammered Sara Errani in her semi-final match

Easy does it: Serena Williams hammered Sara Errani in her semi-final match

The clash against Errani always looked like a mismatch, and so it proved. At only 5ft 4 1/2in and slight, Errani was giving away a huge amount of power to her opponent, and it told.

Williams won the first five games before the Italian finally got on the board, and that was only a minor delay before the fourth seed clinched the opening set after half an hour with a backhand winner.

It was her 18th winner in seven games compared to three from her opponent, and the pattern continued at the start of the second set.

Errani has had a brilliant season, reaching her first grand slam final at the French Open and establishing herself in the top 10, and she certainly was not about to give up.

Powerhouse: Williams set up a final with Victoria Azarenka at Flushing Meadows

Powerhouse: Williams set up a final with Victoria Azarenka at Flushing Meadows

Not quite there: Sara Errani threw everything at Williams but it wasn't enough

Not quite there: Sara Errani threw everything at Williams but it wasn't enough

She won the third game of the second set to at least give herself hope, but that was fading fast as Williams extended her lead to 4-1.

Errani simply could do nothing to take the American out of her comfort zone and Williams set up match point with a crunching backhand winner down the line.

She missed that one and Errani doggedly held serve but the Italian had got nowhere near Williams' serve all match and the 30-year-old clinched victory with a second-serve ace, letting out a scream of delight.

Williams was the hot favourite to win the title before the tournament after her Wimbledon and Olympic success, and that has certainly not changed.

She has dropped only 19 games in six matches, and blasted 38 winners compared to only six from Errani.

Williams said: 'It's really awesome. This is what I wanted and what I dreamed of all year. I'm really happy, I'm in the final again, and I'm excited.'

Errani still has a chance of winning US Open silverware when she and fellow Italian Roberta Vinci take on Czech pair Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova in the women's doubles final.

Stars on show: The likes of Eva Longoria and WIll Ferrell attended the thrilling match

Stars on show: The likes of Eva Longoria and WIll Ferrell attended the thrilling match

Stars on show: The likes of Eva Longoria and WIll Ferrell attended the thrilling match

US OPEN 2012: Andy Murray beats Marin Cilic

Scrapper Murray recovers from slow start to beat Cilic and reach US Open last four

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UPDATED:

01:02 GMT, 6 September 2012

Maybe it was the rare sight of Ivan Lendl taking his cap off and scowling, maybe it was the arrival of Pippa Middleton at courtside, but something happened to bring Andy Murray back from the brink.

The 25-year-old Scot was in desperate trouble in the second set of his US Open quarter final when both these things came to pass, and they coincided with him roaring back to defeat world No 13 Marin Cilic.

From the dire straits of 6-3, 5-1 down when he could barely get the ball in the court, Murray fought back to win 3-6, 7-6, 6-2, 6-0 in three hours to keep his Grand Slam dream alive.

Made it: Andy Murray reached the last four with a tough win over Marin Cilic

Made it: Andy Murray reached the last four with a tough win over Marin Cilic

After finishing he was able to relax and see who his next opponent would be in his second straight semi-final at Flushing Meadows — whether it would be a rematch of his epic two clashes with Roger Federer at Wimbledon this year or a less expected contest with Czech powerhouse Tomas Berdych.

Either way he has two days to compose himself after making what was an awkward assignment against the 6ft 6in Croat look exactly that.

Murray was bafflingly poor until his dramatic revival after the match was moved to the Louis Armstong Stadium following earlier rain. It is a court he has struggled on before and it doubtless did not help that it was not even half full at the start, his mood matching the flat atmosphere.

Troubled times: Murray struggled to get to grips with the court and his opponent in the early stages

Troubled times: Murray struggled to get to grips with the court and his opponent in the early stages

Troubled times: Murray struggled to get to grips with the court and his opponent in the early stages

Troubled times: Murray struggled to get to grips with the court and his opponent in the early stages

The danger signs were immediate, especially the odd manic grin at his box and the curse that this surface was ‘10 times’ fast than that of the Arthur Ashe. The feet that moved so fluently in a brilliant fourth round performance were anchored to the floor.

Cilic’s early break was clawed back but when Murray was broken immediately again he hurled his racket into the concrete.

When two double faults saw him go behind early in the second you feared the worst, and so clearly did Lendl, who never shows emotion at courtside but now removed his headgear. At 1-5, another dismal break conceded, it looked a very long way back, but there was always the memory of the 2010 Australian Open semi-final, when he turned round another bad start against the same opponent.

Slumped: Cilic fell apart in the final two sets as Pippa Middleton cheered Murray on (below)

Slumped: Cilic fell apart in the final two sets as Pippa Middleton cheered Murray on (below)

Pippa Middleton watches Andy Murray

Cilic is utterly inscrutable but can get very nervous inside, and by the time Pippa arrived courtside, Murray was getting fired up and hauling him in.

Even then there were dramas as three unforced errors saw the world No 4 go 2-4 down, before a few errors from the other side helped him back and he ran away with it 7-4.

Slowly but surely, Cilic’s game began to collapse with Murray now darting around the back court and starting to work his backhand beautifully. Only two more games were conceded.

Fulham eye transfer deadline day signing of Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe

Fulham ready to splash out again with last-minute deal for 6m Odjidja-Ofoe

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UPDATED:

08:20 GMT, 31 August 2012

Martin Jol is launching a late bid to go down as the transfer window's busiest manager after lining up a 6million move for Belgium midfielder Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe.

Flushed with cash after selling Mousa Dembele to Tottenham for 15m, the Fulham boss has already hailed Dimitar Berbatov's 5m signing as the biggest in the club's history and earmarked Sunderland’s Kieran Richardson for the left-back spot at Craven Cottage.

Now he is hoping to strengthen the heart of his midfield by recruiting highly-rated Bruges anchor man Odjidja-Ofoe, who impressed in last season’s Europa Cup tie against Birmingham City and laid on a goal for Joseph Akpala in the 2-2 draw at St Andrews.

New Fellaini Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe is wanted at Craven Cottage

New Fellaini Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe is wanted at Craven Cottage

The 23-year-old, capped three times and hailed as the new Marouane Fellaini in his homeland, attracted interest from West Brom last season and could be on his way to the Barclays Premier League at the second attempt, if Fulham can reach an agreement.

The 6ft 1in powerhouse joined Bruges from Bundesliga side Hamburg for 800,000 three years ago and has established himself as their midfield mainstay during a return of 14 goals from 117 appearances.

London 2012 Olympics: Badminton: Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei take gold

Sublime Chinese duo take gold in badminton mixed doubles in wake of fixing scandal which saw compatriots disqualified

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UPDATED:

17:50 GMT, 3 August 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

China made badminton headlines for the right reasons as Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei produced a world-class performance to claim Olympic gold at Wembley Arena.

The top seeds were far too strong for their compatriots and second seeds Xu Chen and Ma Jin as they powered to what could prove the first of five golds in the sport for the Asian powerhouse.

Their 21-11 21-17 victory showed the best of Chinese badminton two days after one of their mixed doubles pairs was expelled from the London 2012 competition in a match-fixing row.

Winners: Gold medalists Zhang Nan (left) and Zhao Yunlei (right) put on a class performance at Wembley

Winners: Gold medalists Zhang Nan (left) and Zhao Yunlei (right) put on a class performance at Wembley

The pair put on a remarkable display and were overjoyed to have taken yet another gold for the Chinese

The pair put on a remarkable display and were overjoyed to have taken yet another gold for the Chinese

It was a result which rarely seemed in doubt as the world champions Zhang and Zhao got off to a superb start, racing into a 12-5 lead.

Zhao, despite apparent trouble from a knee injury, rarely relinquished control at the net while Zhang set up plenty of winners.

Their opponents could not impose themselves and were frequently forced into errors.

Zhang and Zhao led 8-0 in the second game and only had a brief wobble two points from victory as Xu and Ma won four in succession.

Zhao played down the significance of their victory in light of this week's scandal.
She said: 'Everybody is doing their best to achieve their best performances.

'I have been training very hard in preparation for this gold medal and this is just the start of our careers.'

The pair restored some credibility to Chinese badminton after their compatriots had been kicked out of the Games for deliberately trying to lose

The pair restored some credibility to Chinese badminton after their compatriots had been kicked out of the Games for deliberately trying to lose

The bronze medal was won earlier in the day by Danish pair Joachim Fischer and Christinna Pedersen, who beat Indonesia's Tonowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir.

Fourth seeds Fischer and Pedersen earned some consolation after their semi-final defeat to Zhang and Zhao by outplaying third seeds Ahmad and Natsir to win 21-12 21-12.

Fischer, who smashed a racket after losing out on a place in the gold medal match, celebrated exuberantly and gave away his racket and shirt.

The result meant that for the first time in Olympic history Indonesia had failed to pick up a badminton medal. At all Games since the sport was introduced in 1992, the country had won at least one gold.

Ahmad said: “There has been too much pressure on from home and from the media.

'I failed to cope with the expectation and under-performed.'

The men's singles final on Sunday will be a repeat of the Beijing showpiece of four years ago between all-time greats and arch-rivals Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan.

Defending champion Lin had little trouble seeing off South Korea's Lee Hyun-il.

The world number two won 11 of the first 12 points of the match and 12 of the last 14 as he powered past the ineffective seventh seed to win 21-12 21-10.

Malaysia's top seed Lee was made to work much harder by third seed Chen Long and looked more impressive for it as he won 21-13 21-14.

Wang Xiaoli (left) and Yang Yu were disqualified from the Games and were unable to compete for the medal positions

Wang Xiaoli (left) and Yang Yu were disqualified from the Games and were unable to compete for the medal positions

The women were top seeds and were likely to rack up another medal for the Chinese

The women were top seeds and were likely to rack up another medal for the Chinese

Despite his superb display, Lee, who came into the tournament with doubts over his fitness after an ankle injury, said: 'I didn't expect to win because my preparation has only been 50 per cent.

'I said to myself, “I have nothing to lose,” but when I saw it was 11-4 in the first game I realised I had to win this match and that's why I played more confidently.'

Lee and Lin produced a stunning spectacle when they met in the final of the World Championships at the same venue last year.

Lin survived match point to win and will again be favourite despite Lee's long-established status at the top of the world rankings.

The Malaysian, a perennial runner-up to Lin, will also carry the pressure of bidding to win his country's first Olympic gold in any sport.

The first women's semi-final proved a disappointing spectacle as top seed Wang Yihan made easy work of India's fourth seed Saina Newhal, winning 21-13 21-13 in 42 minutes.

Wang was joined in the final by fellow Chinese Li Xuerui, who beat another compatriot in Wang Xin.

Third seed Li, a late selection by China for the tournament, continued her impressive progress with a 22-20 21-18 success over the second seed.

China are top of the medals table, with the USA in second place

China are top of the medals table, with the USA in second place