Badminton Life

British Pair Shifts Pressure on to Chinese Rivals

Most doubles players would be nervous at the prospect of playing against a team who they have failed to beat in four meetings.

However, Athens mixed doubles silver medalists Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms are looking forward to their Olympic opening-round match against China's Zheng Bo and Gao Ling.

Robertson and Emms were the stars of the British squad in Athens four years ago after their heroic run to the final of the mixed doubles event.

However, not many are giving them much chance against Gao and Zheng this time round. It was Gao and her former partner Zhiang Jun who beat the British pair in the 2004 final.

Emms, though, believes the pressure will all be on the Chinese duo, who won all of their four meetings last year.

"There'll be a lot of pressure on them," she said in a PA article. "The expectations are on them as it will be their first match in their home Olympics, so in a way, we've got it good.

"We could've had a slightly easier one first round but if you go in with a defeatist attitude, then they've almost won already."

Robertson added: "If we wanted to go a long way in the tournament we would've expected to play and beat this pair at some stage. It's all or nothing anyway."

Britain's other mixed doubles pairing of Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg also have a difficult opening match against another Chinese team, third seeds He Hanbin and Yu Yang.

Few would give the Britons any chance against the China but Robertson thinks otherwise.

"I don't think it was very good for either of the Chinese mixed pairs," he said. "I think the people that they didn't want were definitely the two British pairs. I think they were very unhappy with the draw."

Still, Robertson and Emms will also be under pressure from fans at home, who would want to see them repeat their spirit and strength of their amazing run four years ago.

"That's probably from people who don't follow badminton all the time, they just catch it in the big events," Robertson said.

""They're the people who are going to tune in and say 'they're bound to win this time'. But it's fantastic for the sport because it gets a chance once every four years to push itself."

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