KOREA OPEN 2011 SF – Jung and Lee give hope to home team

After 2 disappointing Korean losses early on semi-finals day, Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae saw off Malaysia’s Koo/Tan to reach the Korea Open final for the 4th time […]

After 2 disappointing Korean losses early on semi-finals day, Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae saw off Malaysia’s Koo/Tan to reach the final for the 4th time in 5 years.

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

The mood was a touch sombre in the No.1 Olympic Indoor Gymnasium after the first semi-final ended at the 2011 Victor Korea Open Premier Super Series.  Ko/Ha had not been able to take the upper hand and the mixed doubles will be an all-Chinese final for a second straight year.

After sending souvenirs flying into the crowd before their warmup, defending champions and crowd favourites Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae (pictured) send plenty of strong attacks flying over the net to their opponents, Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong (pictured below), who were still in search of their first title in Korea.  Still, the Malaysians, after losing the lead late in the first game, surged back into the lead when it counted and stole the first game 22-20.

In the second, Jung and Lee opened up a big lead after the interval, while the crowd was more puzzled than wowed when the two pairs continually went into a pattern of trading long, high clears, for a style of badminton quite uncharacteristic of men’s doubles.

Still, the sight of the Korean team winning was enough to hold the spectators’ interest and they were far from disappointed by the action itself as the rallies did erupt into the thrilling fast-paced badminton we all expect when two of the top men’s pairs in the game go at it for such a big prize.

There was no more drama in the second and third games, however, as Jung and Lee took them both by comfortable margins.  More delight for the crowd came when Lee Yong Dae threw his racquet high into the crowd.

“We too found that the shuttles were flying slowly in this hall,” explained Jung Jae Sung after the match.  “We knew that going in, but still the first game was so fast-paced and we tried to attack too much regardless, even though it wasn’t working enough.

“In the second game, we tried to keep the rallies going longer and really wait for our chances to attack.  I mean, Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong are amazing on defense anyway, so we knew that whether we attacked or not, the rallies were going to be long, but we knew the longer the rallies went on the better chance we had of winning.

“We still have no idea who will win the other semi-final but either way, since we are playing at home, we expect it to be a great match.

“The Danish team is so good, and it’s so difficult to find the empty spots on the court against them so we really need to let the rallies play out until the opportunities arise and they give us some space.

“The last time we played them here in the finals in 2009, that was my last match before starting my military service so losing was a real disappointment.  Of course, we don’t know who will advance to the finals to meet us but I wonder if both we and the Danes aren’t sort of hoping to meet each other again in the final so it will definitely be a great match.”

Malaysian fans, meanwhile, who were curiously absent from a major international tournament for the first time in this writer’s memory, will have to be consoled by the easy victory of men’s singles hero Lee Chong Wei (pictured) as the world #1 shuttler easily disposed of Du Pengyu to become the only player to be playing in a final at the Korea Open for the third straight year other than Lee Yong Dae, who is actually poised to title for a fifth consecutive time.

For complete semi-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