KOREA OPEN 2011 QF – Great to be home!

Sung Ji Hyun dealt the first of two blows to the mighty Chinese women’s arsenal, edging out Wang Xin to return to the semi-finals for a second straight year at […]

Sung Ji Hyun dealt the first of two blows to the mighty Chinese women’s arsenal, edging out Wang Xin to return to the semi-finals for a second straight year at the 2011 Victor Premier Super Series.

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

Runner-up last year, Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun (pictured) has struggled to produce the results in the rest of 2011, going no further than the quarter-finals in any other Super Series events and reaching the semi-finals only once the badminton tour swung back to Korea for the Grand Prix event in Gimcheon in November.

Now, it is back to Korea and Sung Ji Hyun is again in the semi-finals, having done something she was not able to do last year at all: beat a first-string Chinese player.

Sung was lagging far behind in the first game but was able to return the favour in the second, holding Wang Xin (pictured) to a mere nine points.  The third game was a game of cat and mouse, but Sung was able to hold on to eke out a 21-19 win.

“I am so happy, it’s hard to think,” were Sung’s first words when interviewed after her victory.  “I think I was lucky that my opponent made plenty of mistakes in the second game and a few more right at the end and that allowed me to win.

“It was hard to play three games today after playing for more than an hour yesterday, of course, but in a way, playing so long yesterday was a kind of warmup for today so I was very loose and ready to play three today.

“Last year, my stamina was lacking and that was one of the reasons why I lost in the final so after that, I have really tried to work on my stamina and I think that I have improved.  But still, it takes energy to shout after winning a point, so that’s why I wasn’t shouting near the end of the match.”

Even if Sung wasn’t shouting, there was plenty of noise in the hall.  The young Korean’s two biggest wins last year, against Eriko Hirose and Tine Baun, came on Wednesday and Thursday, when the Seoul crowds are notoriously small and silent.

“I think that I have really been helped by playing at home and I think the crowd support is stronger this time than last year.  This is my third time playing against Wang Xin and after losing to her twice, it feels great to finally beat her.”

Cheng/Chien: back to where it all began?

Sung Ji Hyun was not the only one to find success against the Chinese first string for the first time.  Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Wen Hsing / Chien Yu Chin had beaten the retired Chinese greats in 2009 but were forced to wait until today to find the formula against a sitting member of the Chinese women’s team.

Although they came up just short against Cheng Shu and former partner Zhao Yunlei at home at the Super Series Finals earlier this month, they had everything clicking against Cheng and new partner Ma Jin tonight.

“I am so happy now, I can barely walk,” said a grinning Cheng Wen Hsing after sealing her 22-20, 13-21, 23-21 victory over the Chinese.  “Because I lost in the mixed doubles earlier today so I just thought I had to play so hard in this one.

“Because they are a new pair, they don’t seem to have the flow so they are leaving some space down the middle so we could smash down the middle, middle, middle and then use the sides.

“Usually, power is just not enough but in this match there was some space down the middle so we could win some points this way.

“I think Korea is lucky for me because my first Super Series title was here.”

Next up is the team who did win at Cheng and Chien’s home event in Taipei this month, as China’s Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang beat Poon/Tse of Hong Kong.  Sung Ji Hyun goes on to face Wang Yihan, but remains on a collision course with her opponent from last year’s final, Wang Shixian, who faces the youngest remaining player in this first Premier Super Series tournament, Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk.

For complete quarter-final 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