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Defending champion Zhang Ning enters badminton semifinals
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Defending champion Zhang Ning on Wednesday entered the badminton women's singles semifinals at the Beijing Olympic Games, by beating Pi Hongyan from France.

Zhang beat Pi, the world's No. 5 at 21-8, 19-21, 21-19. The match was very close as both were among the world's best women singles. The two players drew after the first and second games, and were once at 11-11 in the decisive third game.

Zhang, 33, went into tears after the victory. "The match was too difficult for me. I have been fighting hard against her all along, and now I am exhausted."

"My coach told me to hang on in the middle of the second match, and I finally made it," Zhang added.

Pi, 29, said she was disappointed for her defeat, attributing it to the performance in the first game and too much defense thereafter.

"I failed in consuming her strength in the first game, and the crowd's chants for Zhang affected me at the beginning," Pi said.

Also on Wednesday morning, Maria Kristin Yulianti from Indonesia beat Saina Nehwall from India to become Zhang's opponent in the semifinals.

Zhang just lost to Yulianti in the Indonesia Open in June. However, Zhang said on Wednesday that she was in good form and had the confidence to pay back.

(Xinhua News Agency August 13, 2008)

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