KOREA OPEN 2012 R32 – UK smiles, former kings cry

A day of upsets for the kick off of the main draw of the most lucrative tournament in the world as the mixed doubles top seeds Zhang and Zhao were […]

A day of upsets for the kick off of the main draw of the most lucrative tournament in the world as the mixed doubles top seeds Zhang and Zhao were shown the exit of the Victor by Great Britain’s Adcock and Bankier, while Taufik and Gade also failed to deliver and said goodbye to a share of that million dollars…

Raphael Sachetat. Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

What a day for England – and Scotland! And it couldn’t have started off in a better way, as Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier were up first match against the pair which had shattered their dream in London this summer, beating them in the final of the BWF World Championships. But this time, Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier were more prepared. They had watched videos of Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei, the top seeds of the event. And they played the perfect game, while their opponents where still rusty from the New Year, with Zhao Yunlei (photo) showing signs of nervousness. And then, it was all finished, in straight games, 21-19, 21-16 for the British pair.

Few hours later, another upset was to go their way, with Rajiv Ouseph (photo) taking on Taufik Hidayat. The Indonesian wonder has been defeated by lower ranked players in the past months, but Ouseph had never beaten any of the top guys in individual tournament. Boosted by his performance against Peter Gade in the Copenhagen Masters (he had taken a game from the Dane), the English quickly found out that he could win if he was patient, as Taufik was not on one of his best days, obviously. And then again, in a quite similar score, England was creating an upset to go through the second round of the Victor Korea Open 2012.

Both wins felt great for Kenneth Jonassen, their Danish coach who swaps easily from a men’s singles to a mixed doubles coach. This time, he learned the great news from far as he had not travelled to Korea, but was thrilled to see his protégés’ work was paying off:

Well great wins for both (Ouseph and mixed) and this is something we have believed that they could do but we want more for them in this tournament. We have worked hard with the players in December on certain improvements both on and off court – and I’m very proud that they have been able to adjust it into a top performance. Good old fashion hard work has paid off. Overall, it shows that confidence and self belief is everything when trying to compete against the best from Asia,” said the Dane.

Gade, Chen, Wang out

The day wasn’t finished for upsets, far from that. In the men’s singles, three seeded players were sent packing. Vietnam’s Nguyen was beaten by Tago, Chen Long retired against Chinese Taipei’s Hsu, while Peter Gade couldn’t do more than score 9 and 12 points against Du Pengyu of China. The Dane explained on his Facebook page he felt the heavy schedule in his legs: “Of course, I’m frustrated about losing, but on the other hand, I knew there was a risk of this happening here.  There have been too many tournaments and too much travel in the last 4 months.  I just have to accept that I need to recharge both mentally and physically.  I will go on the Kuala Lumpur next week to say good buy to one of my favourite places on the badminton circuit and since this will be last time playing here, I’ll do it with a lot of memories in my mind.

Malaysian fans should be in for a treat…

Lee Chong Wei advanced easily to the second round, where he’s set to meet up with Shon Wan Ho, who played one point only against Jayaram from India before the latter retired, while Lin Dan had to dig deep to beat the never-say-die Spanish toreador Pablo Abian.  Lin won 21-18, 20-22, 21-10.

Wang Xin, Pi shown the exit too

In the women’s singles, Wang Xin was the biggest casualty of the day, beaten by Korea’s Bae Youn Joo (photo). It was the 8th time the two players met and Bae had never beaten the smiling Chinese. She had been close in the recent Super Series Finals, but eventually, the Chinese had taken it in three games. This time, in spite of the loss of the first game 10-21, the Korean kept fighting.

After she lost the first game, I told her not to just worry about winning,” said her Coach Kim Ji Hyun after the match “but to concentrate on her speed”. This advice from the globe-trotting Korean coach (back in Korea after New Zealand and Germany) worked perfectly as Bae was then able to fight back and win both second and third games.

Wang Xin beat me in my first major final and this is my first win against her but more than feeling good, it mainly makes me confident. When I was moving so slowly in the first game, it felt like she was in really good form but once I started to move faster, I really started to feel more like an equal on court,” said the Korean after her win.

Pi Hongyan was beaten as well, in three games by Hong Kong’s Poon Lok Yan, a qualifier, while Li Xuerui was pushed to three tough games by Spanish jewel Carolina Marin (photo). One of the highlights of Thursday’s matches will see Korea’s Hwang Hye Youn, back from injury and winner over Petya Nedelcheva in the first round, against top seed Wang Yihan.

In other events, there were some upsets as well. Both seeded Thai mixed doubles pairs lost in the opening round, just like Ahsan and Septano (to Japan’s Kawamae/Sato) while China’s 7th seeds Guo and Chai were sent packing by reigning Olympic champions – but unseeded – Kido and Setiawan.

All results HERE

Badzine’s Photo gallery HERE

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Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.