U.S. Open 2011 Finals – SHO TAIm in singles; doubles for Ha, Lee

It was upsets all around at the U.S. Open finals on Saturday as 17-year-old Tai Tzu Ying took her first ever international title, Sho Sasaki won his second of the […]

It was upsets all around at the finals on Saturday as 17-year-old Tai Tzu Ying took her first ever international title, Sho Sasaki won his second of the year and Ha Jung Eun and Lee Yong Dae each titled twice, including their first together since 2005.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

Tai Tzu Ying (pictured) has been making waves in international women’s singles since bursting on the scene last spring with a runner-up finish at the Singapore Open.  After a few near misses and some sensational wins over the likes of Lu Lan, Zhu Lin, and Wang Xin, the 17-year-old from Chinese Taipei has earned her first ever international title at no less than the Gold level!

Apart from Tai’s second win over 2009 World Champion Lu Lan, however, her main task at the Yonex OCBC U.S. Open was the elimination of Team Japan, which she did in fine style, following up wins over Ai Goto and Eriko Hirose with a victory in the final against Sayaka Sato.  Tai traded blows with the 20-year-old Japanese shuttler in the first two games before taking it home 21-6 in a very decisive deciding game.

Japan’s time would come immediately afterward, however, as Sho Sasaki (pictured) picked up his second Grand Prix Gold title of the year, beating Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh 21-17, 21-18.  Sho had scored his first ever win against Nguyen en route to his Australian Open title this past spring but in the final in Los Angeles, he made much quicker work of his opponent.

The doubles events belonged entirely to Korea.  Lee Yong Dae, despite being unseeded in both men’s and mixed doubles, marched to both titles in straight games.  Lee and Ha Jung Eun (pictured below) picked up their first international title together since their junior days, when they won the Asian Junior title and the Mongolian satellite in mid-2005.  They have been picked as Korea’s chief hope for the 2012 London Olympics but this is the first big noise they’ve made on the tour since they were reunited this spring.

Meanwhile, Lee’s scratch partnership with Ko Sung Hyun reaped some added dividends.  Coach Kang Kyung Jin told the Korean press last month that Lee was playing with Ko in order to keep his fitness up while playing in two events but the youthful duo managed to get the better of 2005 World Champions Tony Gunawan / Howard Bach even on the Americans’ home turf.    After ceding the first game with little resistance, Bach and Gunawan looked set to even the score at one game apiece before the Koreans, trailing 14-17 in the second, put on a 5-point run to catch back and win it 21-9, 21-19.

Ha Jung Eun, like her mixed partner, was able to take two golds on the day.  She and partner Kim Min Jung found it much tougher going against compatriots Kim Ha Na and .  The younger pair took the first game and then, like in their semi-final, squandered a major advantage, this time missing three match points in game two before finally allowing Ha/Kim to win again 14-21, 22-20, 21-18 as they had in the Swiss Open final and in Singapore.

While the Japanese, Chinese, and Thai stars all head back to the west to prepare for the World Championships, most of the winners will head north of the border as the contingents from Korea and Taiwan will be in search of the Canada Open titles in Richmond.

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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