ASIAN CHAMPS 2009 – Yoo Can’t Always get What he Wants

Suwon’s new star Yoo Yeon Seong came up short twice on finals day as he and Kim Min Jung (pictured) couldn’t mount an effective counter to world #2 Lee/Lee.  The […]

Suwon’s new star Yoo Yeon Seong came up short twice on finals day as he and Kim Min Jung (pictured) couldn’t mount an effective counter to world #2 Lee/Lee.  The only upsets came from China’s women as Zhu Lin cruised to a comfortable win over her elder compatriot Xie Xingfang.

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

Zhu Lin (pictured below) came to Suwon looking for her first Asian title.   The last tournament she won was the Indonesia Open last year, where only one other Chinese player was present and Zhu had managed to be the only one strong enough to stop the local player on a hot streak.  In Suwon, Zhu nipped that phenomenon in the bud when she came back from a game down to beat Korea’s #2 Bae Youn Joo and she went on to claim the much bigger prizes of taking down Zhou Mi and Wang Lin on the way to Sunday’s final.

In the final, Zhu looked more confident than ever as she allowed the Olympic silver medallist no more than 11 points a game and came away the 21-11, 21-10 victor.  This performance by the new Asian champion might have made any other coaching staff regret leaving her off the Sudirman Cup team but if this tournament has shown anything, it is that China can be confident of a point no matter who they field in Guangzhou next month.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of Sunday to Yoo Yeon Seong.  It was his first time ever playing in the final of a major tournament and he made not one but two.  Having just signed on with the pro team in Suwon, he had everyone from the mayor of the city and a few thousand local badminton players on hand to support him in a rare opportunity to see a local representative play at home in an international event.  So far, it is a dream scenario.

The one catch was that both of his opponents for the day were current Olympic champions and Yoo and his partner were heavy underdogs for both titles.  After glimpsing the glory in the men’s doubles final earlier in the afternoon, Yoo Yeon Seong and mixed partner Kim Min Jung just couldn’t find the secret to trouble their compatriots and they went down 12-21, 15-21, despite some spectacular play on both sides.

After the match, Lee Hyo Jung revealed that she had been nursing a shoulder injury during the pair’s recent campaign in Europe and she said that it was at about 80% now.  Lee Yong Dae continued to attract notice for his propensity to rush the net in mixed doubles and leave Lee Hyo Jung at the back.

“Whenever I approach the net,” explained Yong Dae, “our opponents feel comfortable lifting the shuttle and that sort of works in our favour.”

Yoo Yeon Seong admitted that despite his desire to win today, he really shouldn’t be disappointed.  “Both teams I played today were the absolute top echelon in world badminton and I realize that.  The upcoming Sudirman Cup is the top team competition in the world and although Lee Yong Dae/Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae/Lee Hyo Jung will likely be the ones chosen for the big matches, I fully intend to work hard in training so that my team can count on me if I need to step up.”

Kim Min Jung echoed this sentiment, adding that her three semi-final appearances in Europe recently had helped her confidence in women’s doubles as well.  Both Yoo and Kim form half of two different #2 Korean pairs.

Many of the Korean players are expected to be busy later this month down in Masan for the national spring team championships, where Yoo is expected to make his debut with the Suwon team and Jung Jae Sung and Park Sung Hwan with the military team.

For complete results from the 2009 Happy Suwon , please CLICK HERE

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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