KOREA OPEN 2011 Finals – Titles come in threes

The first two titles became the third title in Korea for three of the four players, including Jung Jae Sung, who happily announced he would be married in 3 months’ […]

The first two titles became the third title in Korea for three of the four players, including Jung Jae Sung, who happily announced he would be married in 3 months’ time.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Seoul.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto

After losing the men’s doubles final to Denmark’s Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (pictured left with Jung/Lee) two years ago, along with failing in their title defense at the Super Series Finals in Taipei this month with a loss to the same pair, Korean heroes Jung Jae Sung / Lee Yong Dae made no mistake in their assault on the first ever Premier Super Series crown, in front of a home crowd at the 2011 Victor .

Jung and Lee barely allowed their visiting challengers a look in and ran out 21-6, 21-13 victors in just over half an hour.  Both Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae attributed their easier-than-expected win to the cheering from the crowd.  Official figures from the Badminton Korea Association had the number in attendance at 6000, nearly half of the total gate figures for the entire week.  A lucky few of those thousands left with even more than just the memories as Jung and Lee each sent a pair of racquets flying into the crowd and Lee Yong Dae ‘topped’ it off by hurling his T-shirt to some expectant fans.

“Before our loss at the Super Series Finals, we really hadn’t trained enough,” Jung further explained in the post-match press conference.  “We really wanted to win this one at home, though, so Yong Dae and I were up early this morning getting warmed up and we didn’t even talk about anything.

“Boe/Mogensen are very good at the front but this time, we were able to stay solid on defense and move the shuttle from side to side when defending and that worked better.  As for our attacks, we didn’t go all out on our attacks but we waited for our chances and then tried to put it down.”

Asked about their intentions for the prize money, Jung Jae Sung laughed “I honestly haven’t thought about the prize money.  Up until now, we have just been so focussed on winning that second title in a row.  Now that that’s over with, we’ll start thinking about what to do with the money.”  No doubt Jung, in particular will find a way as today he announced that he and his fiancée had set a date for this spring (see more here).

“We are sort of half and half against this Danish pair,” said Lee Yong Dae.  “It seems each time we think we’ll beat them, we’ll lose and when we think we’ll lose, we beat them.  Kido and Setiawan have really proven that they can come through in the big matches and they have a lot of experience doing so.  This Danish pair is very difficult to play against but we always feel like we have more of a chance against them.  It’s the same with Cai/Fu of China so we were actually hoping that it would be Boe/Mogensen who came up on the other side to the finals.

“The condition of my elbow has really improved and I feel so much more confident playing men’s doubles without having played mixed,” said Lee Yong Dae.  “Coach Kang Kyung Jin has really had me working hard on the weights because my lack of power meant we were really at a disadvantage when I was rotated to the back.  Now that my power has improved, we find it easier to rotate, knowing that we can both take on the attacking opportunities.

“There were so many people there today that I was really nervous at the beginning, especially when the 0-0 score went up on the board.  It was only once we started winning and the crowd was behind us that I was able to settle down.

“We felt it was best to skip the Malaysia Open this year.  After our loss in the final in Taipei, we really felt we needed more training.  Also we lost in the first round there last year so we were glad to avoid being reminded of that this year.”

Third time lucky, and lucky a third time!

Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang (pictured) came onto the courts ready to win after two consecutive losses to Zhao Yunlei and Tian Qing.  This time, they never let their opponents lead in the first game and played close catch-up in the second. However, a long, thrilling rally with plenty of defensive artistry by Zhao Yunlei both engaged the crowd and gave the Asian Games gold medallists the winning  point in the second game.

The third was all Wang and Yu, however, as the rallies remained long but always seemed to end in their favour.  It wasn’t long before the match was over and Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang had picked up their fifth Super Series title in just over four months, a total that includes not only the Super Series Finals but also the first and most lucrative of the all-new Premier Super Series.

“We found it difficult to come prepared for our match against Zhao and Tian at the Asian Games or even last week,” said Yu Yang afterward.  “We were under so much pressure and we felt like we were expected to win every match and we didn’t know them as a pair.

“After the two losses, though, we felt we knew our opponents and we were able to capitalize at the crucial points of today’s match.”

Though this is Wang and Yu’s first Korea Open title as a pair, Yu Yang won the mixed title last year and the women’s title in 2008, with Du Jing.  But for Wang Xiaoli also, though it is her first time on the Korea Open podium, she also has two titles in Korea, including the 2009 Asian title and the World Junior title in Incheon 3 years earlier.

“I find that the weather and the food is similar enough in Korea to China,” comented Wang.  “Therefore, it doesn’t take time to adapt and that’s why I can play well here.”

For complete results from the 2011 Victor Korea Open Premier Super Series, 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