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Badminton: Europe Upsets Asia to Win Manila Duel
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Yao Jie, playing for Europe, wore down Asia's world number one Zhang Ning to pull off a shock victory as Team Europe won the US$100,000 MVP Badminton Cup on Sunday.

Yao's 21-19 18-21 21-11 win over China's Zhang completed Europe's 10-8 victory over Asia in the second staging of the Asia v Europe badminton duel held at a packed Araneta Coliseum.

"I feel very proud to beat the number one player in the world although I felt Zhang Ning was not playing her usual game," Yao, China's former ace player now representing the Netherlands, said through an interpreter.

Yao's upset win sealed the European team's victory in the event, reducing the final men's singles match between China's Lin Dan and Denmark's Kenneth Jonassen to a dead rubber.

But Jonassen still played his heart out, dragging the world number two through three sets before surrendering 13-21 21-14 14-21.

Europe, who had lost the inaugural event in 2005, won the US$60,000 prize. The Asians picked up US$40,000.

Trailing 4-5 going into the final three matches worth three points apiece, the Europeans seized a 7-5 lead after world No. 10 Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter-Juhl outlasted the Philippine tandem of Kennie and Kennevic Asuncion 22-24 21-17 21-18 in the mixed doubles.

Asia swept Europe in the first day on Friday, 3-0, but the visitors struck back by winning two of three matches on the second day worth two points each to trail 4-5, which the European players overhauled with Laybourn and Rytter-Juhl's victory.

(Reuters via China Daily July 17, 2006)

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