KOREA OPEN 2011 R16 – Dumbfounding doubles!

The men’s doubles was just one upset after another while both home seeds held strong and were joined in the third by two new Kims, who sent the Asian Games […]

The men’s doubles was just one upset after another while both home seeds held strong and were joined in the third by two new Kims, who sent the Asian Games champions packing early.

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

The biggest prize in badminton history will not go to the reigning Olympic, Asian Games, World, or All England men’s doubles champions as the quarter-finals of the 2011 Victor Premier Super Series, will start without Markis Kido / Hendra Setiawan or Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng.  Both fell to brand new pairings in the second round.

The newest of the new pairings, though is Kim Sa Rang and Kim Ki Jung (pictured below).  Ki Jung, of course, was playing with Shin Baek Cheol here last year and ploughed the road for their compatriots by upsetting the ever-dangerous Guo Zhendong / Xu Chen.  This year he was back, but with the relatively unknown Kim Sa Rang (pictured above) and after again dispatching Xu and new partner Zhang Nan in the first round, they went one better and took out Guanzhou gold medallists Kido/Setiawan of Indonesia in a pair of 21-18 games.

“I have been playing doubles on the national team only since January 1st of this year,” said an overjoyed Kim Sa Rang after his win.  “I had always been playing singles so the move to doubles was really hard but there was a problem finding a partner for Ki Jung so we were paired up.

“I have been really nervous every match we’ve played this week but Ki Jung he has some experience and he’s been great as a partner, really showing me the ropes.”

A Badminton Korea Association official said that Li Mao had been intent on keeping Kim Sa Rang with the singles squad but with the recent changes, new Head Coach Sung Han Kook suggested Kim be tried at doubles, where he had been playing well in domestic tournaments.

“I’ve always been very comfortable at the front so I need someone to back me up from the rear court,” said Kim Ki Jung.  “Sa Rang is very fast so he does well covering the back.

“We knew that Kido and Setiawan were a great team but we knew there was no pressure on us and we felt very comfortable playing them at home.  We’re still young and this is such a huge tournament, happening at home so we are just playing for the experience of it so we were more comfortable than nervous.”

Indonesia’s Hendra Setiawan, who had been forced to withdraw from the Super Series Finals earlier this month because of problems with his knee, admitted that the injury was still bothering him a bit but not so much that he felt he shouldn’t have been playing both doubles and mixed.  For now, he is just hoping to be fully recovered by the All England.

“The shuttles were very slow in this hall,” Hendra explained, “and the Koreans are strong.  It wasn’t that they were a new pair that gave us trouble.”

In fact, it was a perfect three for three day for Korea as Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae won, as expected, but Ko Sung Hyun (pictured) and Yoo Yeon Seong, though the favourites in their match against another new pair on the block, Flandy Limpele and Robert Blair, had to fight back from a game down to win in three and book their ticket to a match against Chinese Taipei’s Fang/Lee in what will be the only inter-national matchup in the men’s doubles quarter-finals.

Cai/Fu driven ‘Mads’ by Danes

Denmark’s Mads Conrad-Petersen (pictured) and new partner Jonas Rasmussen created yet another sensation by defeating reigning World and All England champions Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng (pictured below) of China.  The Chinese pair will thus not be playing a rematch of last year’s quarter-final against Boe/Mogensen and instead, Friday afternoon will see a repeat of the Copenhagen Masters final.

“It’s the first time I’ve played them but of course it’s great having an experienced guy like Jonas who’s played them a few times,” said Conrad-Petersen after the match.  “We were well prepared.  It is easy being the underdogs.  You just go in there and give it your best and right now we just have to enjoy it.”

“I knew, from playing with Lars, a lot of things we can use against them and the match really took off,” said Jonas Rasmussen.  “We try to play like the Asians in their home court.  They are very fast and also play a lot flatter over the net but just playing flat against this pair is not really a solution because they are also very good at the flat play and if you’re not ready for that then you get boxed in.”

Rasmussen also pointed out that the slow shuttle speed in the hall was a factor: “It was very difficult to have one or two smashes and win the point.  Normally when Fu Haifeng jump smashes from half-court, it is nearly impossible to retrieve it because he has one of the fastest smashes in the world.”

“I think everything worked out for us today.  Maybe they were a little bit off their game but they shouldn’t be.  It is maybe one of the biggest tournaments this year and we are very happy to win this one and to go through to the quarter-finals.

“I think the difference today was that our defense was excellent.  We could hold them with our defense and then go for the counter attack and thereby winning a lot of points and maybe making them frustrated or nervous and they made some easy mistakes.  In the end it was enough to beat them today.  It’s really thrilling for us.”

Malaysians finish off last of China, Indonesia

Cai/Fu were followed closely by their compatriots Hong Wei and Shen Ye in making an early exit.  The newer, younger pair were once again impressive but failed to duplicate the upset they perpetrated over world #2 Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong (pictured below) last week in Kuala Lumpur.

The Malaysians had to work for it, though, and though they went adrift in the second game, they held on when it counted to win 25-23, 11-21, 21-19.  They will play another relatively new pairing as compatriots Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari / Ong Soon Hock knocked out 8th-seeded Indonesians Chandra/Gunawan in two.

For complete second round results from the 2011 Victor Korea Open Premier Super Series, CLICK HERE

If you are coming for the Korea Open, or whenever you visit Seoul, try Badzine’s partner hotel, the Artnouveau City. Offering fully-serviced residences, it is a stylish home for long or short-term business people, and a great place to stay during the Korea Open.

CLICK HERE to make a reservation at the Artnouveau City

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