KOREA OPEN 2009 Finals – Super Series gets 2 New Champions!

Lee Hyo Jung and Lee Yong Dae went on an attacking rampage to blaze to the mixed doubles gold at the 2009 Korea Open.  They did not fare so well […]
Lee Hyo Jung and Lee Yong Dae went on an attacking rampage to blaze to the mixed doubles gold at the 2009 .  They did not fare so well apart, however, as Denmark’s Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (pictured) and Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Wen Hsing / Chien Yu Chin each won their first ever Super Series title.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Seoul.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Korea: 2, Thailand: 0, Crowd: thousands

It was the biggest crowd for the Korea Open this decade.  They had all gathered to see Korea’s doubles pairs trounce their opponents and Korea’s best had all obliged by making the finals.  No spectacle was more eagerly awaited than the Olympic champions themselves, and Lee Yong Dae / Lee Hyo Jung did not disappoint.

The mixed doubles final belonged to the home pair from start to finish.  The Thai pair just could not seem to grab the attack and they did not lead even once in the 23 minutes it took Lee/Lee to romp to a 21-8, 21-7 victory.

I was a little nervous at first, but it was better once we got into the game,” said Lee Yong Dae at the post-match press conference.  “I think with the confidence we’ve gained from winning the Olympics, we are making fewer mistakes and not giving away one or two points just on errors.  I think that’s why we’ve had good results at the China Open and here.  Hyo Jung is still the leader out there.  She is the one with the most match experience and I feel comfortable looking to her.

I didn’t want to play this match with the thoughts of the men’s doubles final in the background so I tried to play as if the mixed doubles final were the only match I was playing today.

Unfortunately for both Lees, the confidence from winning the mixed doubles was not enough to carry them to the two other titles that they and the home fans were hoping for.

Cheng/Chien win Rematch to Take First Super Series Title

Lee Hyo Jung, who put in a flawless performance in the mixed doubles, seemed to return to her error-prone ways in the women’s doubles final.  Lee Kyung Won, too, seemed to lack that extra spring in her step that had carried the pair to a second consecutive win over Yang/Zhang the day before.

The Korean ladies looked very strong to begin with.  They opened up a 16-10 lead in the first game but Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Wen Hsing and Chien Yu Chin (pictured) soon erased the gamp to tie it at 17-all. Lee/Lee then surged ahead to 19-17 but the Taiwan pair reeled them in once again, scoring four straight points to finish the game 21-19.

Two of the last three times that Cheng/Chien had played in the Korea Open, they lost to the eventual winners by falling apart in the last game and the same thing happened last week when they lost to the Koreans in the Malaysia Open semi-finals.  They made no mistake this time, though, and ran away with the second game to win their third title in the past year.  This was only the third time the world #3 pair – who have been in the world’s top 5 for much of this decade – had won a major title outside of Taiwan.

“The best thing that could happen”

Next up was Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung, who were looking for their fourth Super Series title in two months and who looked unbeatable in the early rounds as  all of their opponents had struggled just to get into double figures and no match had lasted more than half an hour.  Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen of Denmark dominated the first game, however, and no matter how loudly the crowd cheered, the Koreans just could not get on the attack.  Every shot the Danes sent over seemed to drop between the net and the front service line and forced the Jung and Lee to raise the shuttle and give the Danes back the attack.  Boe/Mogensen led from start to finish and closed out the first game 21-12.

The Danish pair continued to find success with this style and opened up a 12-8 lead in the second game but pushed a few shuttles into the net to bring up a 12-all. Some net mastery by Lee finally gave the Koreans a 14-13 lead but then the Koreans again gave the Danes the attack and the latter wore down their opponents’ defense to tie it up again.  The game continued in this vein with the Koreans finally getting on the attack on a few occasions but mostly they were compelled to play more and more spectacular defense.

Jung/Lee (pictured) made a late rally and pulled a 3-point run to give them the game point that all expected would lead to a third and deciding game.  Boe/Mogensen kept the pressure on, however, and the game went to extra points.  Boe disputed a line call when one of his drives was called out at 21-all but heeded the umpire’s warnings to be silent and the Danes saved another game point to tie it back up.  Two errors by the Koreans then gave the Danes the match and their first ever .

I am just so thrilled,” said Boe after the match. “ This morning, I didn’t expect to win because it’s incredibly difficult to beat the Koreans here on home soil.  They have the line judges with them and of course they’re the best pair in the world at the moment.  To beat the Koreans on home soil: that’s the best thing that could happen.

I think it’s because we play a little bit like them,” Boe said when asked how they were able to succeed, where so many fail, in troubling the Korean pair.  “It’s very physical.  We have a very good offense and they don’t have it so easy on defense.  We don’t make so many mistakes and we can kill it.  Some of the other Asians don’t hit as hard as we do.

Boe did not think any change of style was behind the Koreans’ recent success. “No. Lee Yong Dae has improved so much the last couple of years and that’s why their level is so much higher now.  They play very like Koreans.  They play powerful and that’s why they’re so good.  They’re stronger than everybody else – maybe except us when we have a good day.  I don’t feel they’ve changed so much.  They’re just a few percent better all over the line.

Our strategy was to get the best out of the first four and then get the attack and then work as hard as we possibly could because we knew we could not beat them if we stayed on defense too long.  Of course we had to give them the offense sometimes but mainly we had to be strict and then focus on our attack.

I think the conditions here have improved a lot.  The stadium is almost full today.  It’s very nice to play a full house.  Even though we some line calls against us, I think the umpires and the line judges have been a lot more fair this year than last year.  Of course, they still had about 3 calls that were clearly out on our side or in on their side but that’s just how it is in Korea.

After the Olympics, where we had a big disappointment, we looked at each other and said that we wanted to prove to the old national coach that he was wrong and that we could achieve great things and we did that, winning the Chinese Taipei Open just after the Olympics and then two smaller tournaments in Europe and then runner-up in China and then the victory here.  I think we have proven ourselves.

Boe, who is now 28, says that he intends to play in the London Olympics, not just to watch it and that he will definitely be in the game in 2012, barring any serious injury.  He says that he and Mogensen are very professional about considering their condition when choosing which tournaments to attend and that is why they skipped the Malaysia Open last week.  Like all of today’s champions, the next goal for the Danes is the All England and they will decide, based on their performance there, whether to play the Swiss Open.  For now, the Danes can travel back home to relish their new status as Super Series title-holders.

For complete results from the 2009 Yonex Korea Open Super Series finals, please CLICK HERE

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net