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Clark and Kellogg just miss out in Yonex All England final

SUNDAY

Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg came within four points of the mixed doubles title at the Yonex All England Championships in Birmingham this afternoon.

The world runners-up and national champions won the first game 21-16 and fought back from 16-12 down to draw level at 17-17 against Zheng Bo and Gao Ling.

But the unseeded Chinese pair got the upper hand at the end of the second game and remained in control through the third to take the title 16-21 21-18 21-14.

Gao, who won mixed title with her double Olympic gold medal partner Zhang Jun last year, when they beat Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms, has now won the Malaysia, Korea and All England titles in the new Badminton World Federation Super Series.

Clark said: "We couldn't have played much better than we did today. I think there's only a half per cent difference between us. They are a really tough pair and he's a physical monster."

Kellogg added: "In terms of skills and technique we can match them. But our general fitness and all-round play, we can improve."

China began the day with a chance of a record five titles.

Lin Dan did his bit by winning his third men's singles title. But the clean sweep was scuppered when Malaysia's Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong, roared on by former England doubles coach Rexy Mainaky, beat world chamions Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng in straight games.

Wei Yili and Zhang Yawen won an all-Chinese women's doubles final and in the last contest Xie Xingfang beat France's first finalist, Pi Hongyan, to complete her hat-trick of titles.

She and boyfriend Lin Dan had both won their finals in 34 minutes and afterwards Xie said: "I like playing here. The arena is nice and the people are so friendly. I am so happy that Lin Dan and I have both won. It is about the 10th tournament we have won together."

Men's Singles: (1) Lin Dan (Chn) v (6) Chen Yu (Chn) 21-13 21-12

Women's singles: (1) Xie Xingfang (Chn) bt (8) Pi Hongyan (Fra) 21-6, 21-13

Men’s Doubles: (8) Koo Kien Keat & Tan Boon Heong (Mas) bt (1) Cai Yun & Fu Haifeng (Chn) 21-15 21-18

Women’s Doubles: (3) Wei Yili & Zhang Yawen (Chn) bt (2) Yang Wei & Zhang Jiewen (Chn) 21-16 8-21 24-22

Mixed doubles: Zheng Bo & Gao Ling (Chn) bt (6) Anthony Clark & Donna Kellogg (Eng) 16-21 21-18 21-14.

SATURDAY

Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg are through to their first Yonex All England final at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham on Sunday.

The sixth seeds, who beat world and Commonwealth champions Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms to lift the English National title for the first time in Manchester last month, beat second seeds Xie Zhongbo and Zhang Yawen 21-19 21-17 to book their place in the final.

There the sixth seeds will face another Chinese pair, unseeded Zheng Bo and Gao Ling, the new stars of world mixed doubles.

Gao, who beat Robertson and Emms in the final last year with former partner Zhang Jun, has this year won the Malaysia, Korea and German titles with new partner Zheng. And they knocked out Robertson and Emms last night in the quarter-finals.

Clark and Kellogg's victory thrilled a packed crowd at the National Indoor Arena.

The killer point in a close contest came when Clark played two sensational shots while lying flat on his back at 17-16 to win the rally and shatter the Chinese pair.

Clark said: "That was an amazing rally. It's rallies like that that turn matches. It was a massive rally and gave me fresh impetus. He (Xie) is a real physical monster, a big strong guy.

Kellogg said: "Anthony getting those shots back was amazing and so demoralising for the Chinese."

The match was an intense physical struggle but Clark said: "It was tough for us but our coaches kept telling us he's suffering as well. It's a big boost to show that we can compete in the physical game."

World champion Lin Dan and girlfriend Xie Xingfang are still on course for their third singles titles while world men's doubles champions Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng and chasing their second title.

The only hiccup for China came when Gao Ling and Huang Sui lost their semi-final as they chased a seventh successive women's doubles title. But that didn't help the other nations as they lost to team-mates Wei Yili and Zhang Yawen. So the clean sweep it still possible.

Only Clark and Kellogg, Pi Hongyan and Malaysia's men's doubles pair Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong can stop the Chinese charge.