TUC 2010 Day 3 – Korea Fails to Rewrite History

This afternoon in the finally crowded Putra Stadium, there was a replay of the Thomas Cup final of two years ago. The Koreans were notorious for being spoiler in Thomas […]


This afternoon in the finally crowded Putra Stadium, there was a replay of the Thomas Cup final of two years ago. The Koreans were notorious for being spoiler in Thomas Cups for top countries, but they sure have no luck before mighty China. They failed, but oddly enough, will have another chance as the draw late that night saw China and Korea to face each other in Friday’s quarters.

By EeLyn Ooi, live from Putra Stadium, Kuala Lumpur. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

It was clear that both China and Korea were aware that this was no ordinary match, as both countries had fielded their strongest line-up this afternoon.  Meanwhile, the crowd were not shy at all about showing that they had came especially for the China-Korea match-up, as they filled up the seats surrounding Court 1, leaving the other areas empty for the day.

Being the famed nemesis of Lin Dan, Park Sung Hwan (photo) was greeted by a huge group of roaring spectators as he stepped onto the courts for the first time in the week.  Park started the match looking very much like he was going to wipe out Super Dan’s invincibleness as he had a 9-4 lead in the first game. Before long, Lin Dan’s powers started to shoot like bullets from a 36-barrel machine gun, telling Park with actions that he will not allow his burning flame to be so easily extinguished. China hit the scoreboard with the first point with Lin’s 21-18, 25-23 win.

TUC-Day3-LinBehind the scenes, Park listened patiently as his bespectacled interpreter translated the questions thrown out to him. When asked if he was disappointed with the second set, Park tossed a rhetorical question, asking, “What do you think?”

Causing a total silence in the room, Park finally continued, “Of course I’m disappointed! In the second game, compared to the first, Lin Dan played with much speed. He was really fast and strong, and I couldn’t catch up with his pace. After the interval, I tried to focus and follow his speed but in the end I didn’t manage to. I’m really disappointed.”

However, the downhearted Korean went on to claim that he was not satisfied with his own performance. “I only gave 50 to 60 percent in the game and I’m not satisfied.  I’ve met Lin Dan about seven or eight times so far, and it was enough for me to know who Lin Dan is.  In fact, there was not much difference with his play. It was still the same, but I just didn’t manage to win.  We’ve practiced hard at home and now I just hope to play like how I did during practices.”

TUC-Day3-ShinIn the first men’s doubles, Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng who ceded the only point to the Koreans in the previous Thomas Cup finals were delighted to see Jung Jae Sung playing without his flawless buddy Lee Yong Dae. Instead, Shin Baek Cheol (photo) who was German Open champion with Lee while Jung left for the military, came forth to fill Lee Yong Dae’s shoes.

Unfortunately, or otherwise for the Chinese, Cai/Fu (photo down) rewrote history, trashing the scratch pair in a quick 21-11, 21-12, eventually hitting the gong for China to proceed to a 2-0 lead.

Nevertheless, stepping behind the curtains where a huge group of their hometown’s media were awaiting their good news, Cai dampened the spirits as he said, “I think maybe Jung and Shin were not going all out. It felt like they were hiding something.  We were faster today but I think they still had a chance.”

The sweaty veteran refused to treat them as a mere scratch pair but one of the best pairs in Korea. He explained, “Jung is one of the strongest doubles players in Korea and he has the best experience in his country, so no matter who is his partner, they’ll still be a strong pair.” Chipping in his statement, Fu said, “While Lee Yong Dae is not here, the overall strength of the Koreans will drop. Yet, it is still very dangerous if Jung partners any one of the youngsters in the team.”

TUC-Day3-FuChen Jin then marched into the stadium, expecting to end the competition between the nations. Claiming he  had fully prepared, Chen succeeded in trashing the Korean tiger Shon Wan Ho 21-14, 21-13. In spite of that, Chen indicated, “I had troubles on court because I wasn’t familiar with his techniques.  I only started to attack when I’d gotten used to the way he plays.  Shon is a strong player but he lacks experience and he plays very patiently so it was difficult for me.”

The second doubles of both nations stood before each other with an eye to win the game in order to aid in their world ranking, now that China had already sealed a 3-0 victory. Korea’s Swiss champions Ko Sung Hyun and Yoo Yeon Seong were seen as a pair again this afternoon, against Guo Zhendong / Xu Chen. Ko / Yoo were considerably the heroes of the day as they broke the egg and brought their countrymen the first score of the day, refreshing the scoreboard to make it 3-1.

The crowd, who have been clearly showing their pleasure towards the Koreans, continued to cheer like forces of great a typhoon with every lead the Korean pair made. If it is agreed that the reactions from the spectators are the mirrors of a match’s value, these men earned to billing of the most stirring match of the day, as it ended in rubber sets of 21-19, 19-21, 21-19 in the Koreans’ favour.

We were winning at first but in the end our energy dropped. I think we played quite well. It’s just that there were slips during the key moments in the game,” said Guo after the match.

In the third singles, where Bao Chunlai and Lee Hyun Il both played second singles in their last Thomas Cup meeting, Lee was flanked ruthlessly, ending the entire tie 4-1, with only a single score for the Koreans. He lost 18-21, 15-21 to Bao in a 36-minute match.

TUC-Day3-LiFinally, China’s chief coach Li Yongbo (photo) appeared at the press conference  – before going on court to practise with the girls – to express his confidence in his players. “Overall,” he started as he stepped into the hall, “We’re excellent. Cai / Fu and Chen Jin did well. As for Guo / Xu, although they lost, they had a chance as they managed to pull a third game, unlike their previous meeting with Ko/Yoo where they lost in straight games.”

Li Yongbo grinned and spoke with a clear voice to the mostly Chinese media representatives gathered at the press conference.  When asked about his thoughts on the returning Korean singles player, Lee Hyun Il, Li Yongbo stated, “Usually, a player will have better mindset when they’ve once left and have returned to play. Lee Hyun Il is just like that.”

Everyone just couldn’t stop talking about Lee Yong Dae as the press saw Li Yongbo mentioning the name again. “Lee Yong Dae’s not here!  Generally when a top player is absent, the country will have more ways of collocation. Like now for the Koreans, there are five.  Anyway, we’ve prepared to take on any pairs they might send,” said the confident chief coach, not forgetting to throw a final self-compliment, remarking, “All in all, our strengths are stronger than the Koreans’.”

The Chief coach will have to prepare again. As a gigantic surprise, the draw of the Thomas Cup quarter finals once again saw Korea to take on China, less than 24 hours after thier first tie…

Other matches of the day:
Uber Cup Group B: Indonesia 5-0 Denmark
Uber Cup Group C: Japan 5-0 Russia
Thomas Cup Group D: India 4-1 Australia

For complete results from Day 3 of the 2010 , CLICK HERE

To enjoy our live PHOTO GALLERY, click HERE

About Ee-Lyn Ooi