TUC ASIA Finals – Singles the Key in Close Asian Finals

At the Nakhon Ratchasima Sports Complex Indoor Stadium in Thailand on Sunday, the women’s final of the Uber Cup Asia Zone Preliminary saw the South Korean women avenge the defeat […]

At the Nakhon Ratchasima Sports Complex Indoor Stadium in Thailand on Sunday, the women’s final of the Uber Cup Asia Zone Preliminary saw the South Korean women avenge the defeat of the Korean men to Indonesia that completed the men’s competition on Saturday.  The Indonesian men beat the South Korea men’s team in five tough matches to win the Thomas Cup Asia Zone, but both the Indonesian and South Korean men’s and women’s teams easily moved on to compete in the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals, which will take place in May in Malaysia.

By Gerald Jew, Badzine Correspondent live in Thailand. Photos:  Badmintonphoto (archives) and Gerald Jew (live)

The South Korean women also had a difficult five matches, falling behind 0-2 before they were able to sweep the final three matches to complete their come-from-behind victory.

The Indonesian women got things started with Adriyanti Firdasari again beating Bae Seung Hee 21-10, 21-13 in the opening singles match of the day.  Greysia Polii/ Meiliana Jauhari then took the first women’s doubles match by a score of 21-14, 21-12 in what at first appeared to be the beginning of an easy day for Indonesia.

The Korean women would have none of that.  They fought back through two tough three-game matches, losing the first game of each, before Sung Ji Hyun (pictured) propelled the Koreans to victory in the day’s final match to give them the coveted Uber Cup Asia Zone victory they travelled to Thailand in hopes of.

In the third match of the day, Indonesia’s Maria Kristin Yulianti, looking to cement the team victory, won the first game 21-17, before losing the next two games and the match 14-21, 7-21 to Bae Youn Joo.  Yulianti appeared to tire in the second and third games, committing many unforced errors and allowing numerous shots near the end line, to drop inside the court.

Korea’s Lee Hyo Jung / Jung Kyung Eun defeated Shendy Puspa Irawati /Lilyana Natsir 13-21, 21-12, 21-13 in the second doubles match.  After losing the first game, the Koreans outmuscled the Indonesians with a power game that saw the two Koreans win many of their points with devastating overhead smashes that often left the Indonesian pair helpless to defend.

In the last singles match of the day, Sung Ji Hyun completed the Korean comeback with a quick 21-11, 21-14 grudge match victory over Aprilia Yuswandari – who had beaten the Korea Open runner-up handily on Friday – to end the Indonesian’s hopes of sweeping both the Thomas and Uber Cup zone finals.

Indonesia’s Greysia Polii (pictured), who was undefeated playing with two different partners during the week’s competition, echoed the thoughts of the team when she said, “Although the team lost, it’s not the end.  We’re looking forward to the finals where we’ll take it step by step.” Asked about her play during the week, the 22-year-old shuttler said, “I’m very happy with the way I played, but there’s room for improvement and the best is yet to come.”

Indonesian Coach Johannes echoed Poliis comments by saying, “We’re all family.  We’re happy being 1-1 in the zone finals.  It was one for us and one for the Koreans.”

In Saturday evening’s Thomas Cup Preliminary Final, Indonesian singles players Taufik Hidayat, Sony Dwi Kuncoro and Simon Santoso all won their matches.  Hidayat defeated Korean Park Sung Hwan 21-19, 21-15.  Dwi Kuncoro beat Kim Sa Rang 21-9, 24-22 and Simon Santoso (pictured below), in the evening’s final match, completed the team victory with a close 21-18, 21-19 win over Korea’s Choi Ho Jin.

The Korean doubles teams of Ko Sung Hyun / Yoo Yeon Sung and Hwang Ji Man / Kim Ki Jung defeated Markis Kido / Alvent Yulianto Chandra and Rian Sukmawan / Yonathan S Dasuki respectively, by scores of 14-21, 21-19, 21-14 and 19-21, 21-11, 21-12.

After the final, Park Sung Hwan commented, “We’re not disappointed.  This match was just a rehearsal for the finals in Malaysia.  We came in second at the last Thomas Cup and we’re confident we can win.”

Assuring themselves of places in the finals in Malaysia, based on their third place finishes in Nakhon Ratchisima, are the Indian men’s team and the Japanese women’s team.  Both teams needed the full five matches before their wins were decided.  The Indian men beat Japan and the Japanese women beat India to win the third confirmed spots in Kuala Lumpur.

Anup Sridhar beat Japan’s Shoji Sato in a tense three-game match that Sridhar won 21-7, 19-21 and 24-22 in the final game on a smash into the net by Sato.

The jubilant Sridhar said after the match, “We really wanted to beat Japan.  It feels fantastic to get to the final (in Malaysia).  We want to improve and hopefully we can pull off an upset or two.  We don’t fear anyone, we’re the underdogs.”

The Japanese women also needed a fifth match to advance to the Uber Cup Finals.  The doubles team of Miyuki Maeda / Satoko Suetsuna beat the Indian team of Saina Nehwal / Aparna Balan 21-16, 21-10 to assure themselves a trip to Kuala Lumpur.

Saina Nehwal (pictured), who also played and won in an earlier singles match, was hopeful that India would still be able to play in the Uber Cup Final based on their fourth place finish and their world ranking. “We never expected to win (the zone preliminaries), but we feel we showed well,” said Saina after the match.  “We hoped to get third, but this a big step and we improved a lot.  It’s more important that we give 100% than win a medal.”

The  Japanese women’s coach, Korean native Park Joo Bong was also realistic as far as his team’s chances in Malaysia, “There are many strong teams: China, the Europeans and other Asian teams.  We will try our best.”

With the completion of the Asia Zone Preliminaries, Indonesia, Korea and India have now assured themselves a trip to the Thomas Cup Final on the men’s side, and the women of Korea, Indonesia and Japan will be making the trip as well to the Uber Cup Final.  The Indian women and the Japanese men will be hoping for spots in the final based on the world rankings that come out during the first week in March.

For complete results from the Thomas & Uber Cup Asia Zone Qualifying tournament, please CLICK HERE

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