CHINESE TAIPEI OPEN 2011 QF – Korean conquistadors

Despite losing Shon Wan Ho in the men’s singles and four double teams with him, the Korean delegation still finished Friday well on its way to dominating the two remaining […]

Despite losing Shon Wan Ho in the men’s singles and four double teams with him, the Korean delegation still finished Friday well on its way to dominating the two remaining days of the . Especially in the men’s doubles, the Koreans are shining, with three out of four semi-finalist pairs.

By Elm Vandevorst, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

While first and second seeded pairs Jung Jae Sung / Lee Yong Dae and Ko Sung Hyun / Yoo Yeon Seong were expected to proceed this far into the tournament, the third remaining Korean twosome is one of this tournament’s revelations. Ousting third seeded pair Markis Kido / Hendra Setiawan quite easily, Kim Ki Jung and Shin Baek Cheol (pictured) survived the quarters in two short games. Kim Ki Jung, a two-time bronze medallist at the World Junior Championships, had a brief bit of success early this year in a short stint with Kim Sa Rang. Now in his attempt to close the gap with the best Korean doubles pairs, he has continued to post results after being reunited with Shin Baek Cheol.

However the young Koreans’ biggest test lies ahead, when their meet their compatriots Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae. Both pairings already met at this event last year, when the veterans prevailed 21-18, 21-14. Only one non-Korean pair can spoil the party, which are fourth seeds Alvent Yulianto Chandra and Hendra Aprida Gunawan. The Indonesians progressed after a rather difficult start against Malaysians Ow Yao Han / Tan Wee Kiong, but in the end won 21-18, 19-21, 21-10.

Also, the Korean women had a more than decent day with one pair left in the women’s doubles and two shuttlers in the singles.  In the latter event, the young blood surely luxuriates with Korean youngsters Bae Youn Joo (pictured) and Sung Ji Hyun, both 20, and also Thai teenager Ratchanok Intanon in with a chance to claim the title. Home player Pai Hsiao Ma, although still only 25 years old, seems to be the odd one out. And she had to work hard for the money, up against fifth-seeded Yip Pui Yin. Regardless of her victory in the first game, Pai had to accept defeat in the second concluded with a gained 22-24 loss. While she was not able to finish one of her two match points in the second game, finally her fifth match point proved to be the good one. She can now prepare for her match against Sung Ji Hyun, while Intanon will face Bae Youn Joo.

Second seeds Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung are the only Korean pair in the women’s doubles, but are the heavy favourites in their clash with Vivian Hoo and Woon Khe Wei (pictured). However, the Malaysian pair is doing great recently and are already in their third semi-final appearance in three tournaments. In the other semi, local players Cheng Wen Hsing and Chien Yu Chin will clash with Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii of Indonesia.

Korea can also count on two more pairs in the mixed doubles, being Lee Yong Dae / Ha Jung Eun and Ko Sung Hyun / Eom Hye Won, with all but Universiade double gold medallist Eom still vying for spots in two finals.  The Koreans are all facing stiff competition, however, as Indonesia’s strong seeded pairs Tantowi Ahmad / Liliyana Natsir and Fran Kurniawan / Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth attempt to create a repeat of this year’s India Open final.

The only event left, perhaps not surprisingly, without any Korean contender is the men’s singles. Nguyen Tien Minh – who took care of Korea’s last competitor Shon Wan Ho, fresh off an upset over Simon Santoso – is looking for his next title after success in the Vietnam Open, but must first beat Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand.  If he can pull off that task, he will meet an Indonesian opponent, which will be either Sony Dwi Kuncoro (pictured) or sixth-seeded Tommy Sugiarto.  Sony has had the toughest test so far, following up a 70-minute marathon against compatriot Alamsyah Yunus with another three-game win over Malaysia’s erstwhile #2 Muhammad Hafiz Hashim.

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