THOMAS CUP 2012 SF – Koreans make it double

The Korean Thomas Cup team joined their Uber Cup compatriots into the final by beating the mighty Danes in a very tight encounter. It was Korean ace Lee Yong Dae […]

The Korean Thomas Cup team joined their Uber Cup compatriots into the final by beating the mighty Danes in a very tight encounter. It was Korean ace Lee Yong Dae partnering Kim Sa Rang for the occasion who brought the ultimate point, despite Jung Jae Sung’s absence.

By Tarek Hafi, Badzine Correspondent. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

It is a first for Korea. Sung Han Kook, Korea’s head coach, has to be proud of his players, who, for the first time, qualified all together for the finals of both the .

The battle of the titans took place in the first leg of Friday’s tie along with two of the most highly skilled players of this era. Despite an ankle injury sustained a few weeks ago, the legendary Peter Gade offered some marvellous play in the first game. Suffocating the Korean player with sharp attacks and forcing him to make mistakes, the Dane never seemed, even once, to be in danger.

This was until the Korean veteran Lee Hyun Il (photo), idolized by many for his smooth and technical game, chose to up the pace of his game, exhibiting a more committed attitude on court. The thirty-two year-old Korean displayed all his fabulous technique, building a very solid game, and looking unbreakable.  He kept this positive attitude  in the third game, adding a bit more of his fantastic touch, enough to trash Peter Gade’s attempted run into a last ever Thomas Cup final.

Danes tie up the tie

Hopes came back with the first men’s doubles Cartsen Mogensen and Mathias Boe leaving nothing to chance against Ko Sung Hyun and Yoo Yeon Seong. Despite being the world number 3 against the world number 4, the Danes gave their opponents a real thrashing in today’s match.  Boe and Mogensen clearly had a psychological advantage over the Koreans and they also showed a wider perspective of what they could do, while their opponents couldn’t find any way to reply during the whole match, and let it go 21-10, 21-12.

At one-all, it was Shon Wan Ho and Jan Jorgensen who now had to battle for a second point in this semi-final. Here however, while only one spot separates the two players on the world ranking, Shon proved his recent good form by taking care of Jan O Jorgensen, in their first ever encounter.

The excellent tactical game Shon displayed, moving his opponent around the court, taking every opportunity that came, quickly made the Dane frustrated, unhappy with his performance. The Korean, meanwhile, remained very solid until the frustration turned out to feed Jorgensen’s eagerness to win the second game, allowing Denmark to believe they’d get back the upper hand in the tie.

The third game was a tense battle full of long rallies, while both players needing more and more support as both knew how crucial the match was. The Koreans brought their Uber Cup team to add cheers, backing up Shon Wan Ho in his quest for a second important point.  This was helpful indeed, as the young Korean finally opened up a gap. Earning a first match point on a missed net shot from the Dane, Shon finally sealed it on a net shot as well for a final 21-13, 14-21, 21-16 in more than a hour to confirm his recent form, which helped him to get a last minute ticket to the Olympics and now has his team contesting a Thomas Cup final.

The newly formed pair of Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Jonas Rasmussen took their Korean opponents by surprise with a very offensive game, suffocating the less experienced Kim Sa Rang and leaving the newly-crowned Asian Champion looking very nervous on court.  It was a well-chosen tactic and led the energetic Danes to dominate the first game.

In the 2nd game, answers were found by the Koreans, and they finally found a way to counter attack their opponents. The young Kim Sa Rang finally managed to settle his nerves, showing more confidence on court.  Meanwhile, Jonas Rasmussen had trouble handling the pressure on his serve, and sent his last flick way wide, giving the edge to the Koreans, who emerged mentally and tactically strong enough to overcome the easy loss of the first game.

A promising third game then got under way and, as expected, both pairs offered a brilliant game, with the rebirth of Kim Sa Rang, almost equalling the skill and creativity of his world-class partner Lee Yong Dae (photo). On the other side, the Danes seemed like they were running out of gas, or at least out of ideas, after such a promising first game. A tense Lee Yong Dae who kept muttering to himself as he served “stay focused, stay focused”, had his wish granted as he not only proved he was probably the best men’s doubles player at the moment, but helped Korea earn a spot in the final, where they will play China.

It is therefore a first for the Korean team, now en route to meet China, in a repeat of the 2008 final to complement the 2010 rematch set up by their Uber Cup counterparts. both teams have a tough task ahead of them indeed, after China’s great run at home to the final in Wuhan.


Korea 3, Denmark 1
MS1: Lee Hyun Il bt Peter Gade 17-21, 21-14, 21-10
MD1: Ko Sung Hyun / Yoo Yeon Seong lost to Carsten Mogensen / Mathias Boe 10-21, 12-21
MS2: Shon Wan Ho bt Jan Jorgensen 21-13, 14-21, 21-16
MD2: Kim Sa Rang / Lee Yong Dae bt Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Jonas Rasmussen 11-21, 21-19, 21-15
(not played)
Lee Dong Keun vs. Viktor Axelsen

About Tarek Hafi