UBER CUP 2012 SF – 2010 final, all over again

Korea qualified for their second consecutive Uber Cup final, dominating their arch-rivals Japan, concluding the encounter in only three matches. The Korean women will now be asked to put forth […]

Korea qualified for their second consecutive Uber Cup final, dominating their arch-rivals Japan, concluding the encounter in only three matches. The Korean women will now be asked to put forth the same game they brought to the courts two years ago, when they beat the perennial favourites China.

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

They’ve confirmed it once again. There was an explosion of happiness from the Korean women, who have been playing better and better throughout the competition.  After a very convincing game against Japan, the Korean ladies remain the most serious contenders, after China, to lift the Uber Cup trophy.

The Japanese were not given a chance grab even one point against a very strong-minded Korean team, who are now already on the way to meet their opponents from the final two years ago, but this time on Chinese soil.

Sung Ji Hyun (pictured) confirmed once again the edge she holds against Sayaka Sato, grabbing a fifth consecutive win in two straight games. Despite the marathon match she went through yesterday against Tai Tzu Ying, the young Korean displayed a world class game to open the encounter in favour of the defending Uber Cup champions.

Nevertheless, the energetic Japanese player showed great responses in the first game, tiring her opponent, forcing Sung to crack first in the first game.

Still, the number one Korean beautifully outmanoeuvred Sato, building the rallies to perfection, and leaving Sato clueless, unable to counter attack Sung’s clever game.

The first match ended 21-15, 21-10 for the world number 12, who even had, from the Chinese organizers, a Korean song played at the end of her match.

It was then the turn of Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung (pictured bottom) to bring another victory. However, it was not to be easy, as they battled for almost an hour and an half against Reika Kakiiwa and Mizuki Fujii (pictured below), the world number four.

The Korean women appeared to have learnt a lesson after their defeat yesterday, against Chinese Taipei, and they seemed slightly closer to gaining back the form they had in the beginning of the year when they reached two Super Series finals in a row.

Despite the loss of the opening game, the Japanese women adapted their game, more committed than ever, forcing the less powerful Kim Min Jung, to stay at the back and keeping from her the opportunities to hunt for net kills.

Still, the skilled Korean women formed their famous invincible wall in the decider, leaving all the attacks to the Japanese, creating a gap big enough to ensure a Korean win. The tough battle eventually came to an end, with Kim Min Jung’s famous cross-court smash, 21-13, 17-21, 21-14.

Bae Youn Joo didn’t even think twice before stepping onto the court, looking desperate to earn the final point, especially after her surprise loss yesterday left her team teetering on the brink of an ignominious quarter-final elimination.

Bae met Eriko Hirose, who stands at a comparatively lowly 24th spot in the world ranking, lower than Bae but also much lower than one would expect from a player who was All England runner-up a mere 14 months ago.

Hirose did just what the Korean expected her to do as Bae dominated the game, showing excellent court coverage as well as a huge commitment to the game. Despite her inconsistency over the past few months, the 21-year-old confirmed she was back on top of her game, awaiting a possible remake of the Korean final victory of two years ago.

Bae Youn Joo looks set to step up this time, after playing a rather minor role in the 2010 title, but she’ll need all her form as she prepares to take on either Wang Xin or Wang Shixian in the final, both players who have enjoyed long winning streaks over their Korean counterpart.


Korea 3, Japan 0

WS1: Sung Ji Hyun bt Sayaka Sato             21-15, 21-10
WD1: Kim Min Jung / Ha Jung Eun bt Mizuki Fujii / Reika Kakiiwa 21-13, 17-21, 21-14
WS2: Bae Youn Joo bt Eriko HIROSE 21-15, 21-17
(not played)
WD2:  Jung Kyung Eun / Kim Ha Na vs. Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi
WS3:  Hwang Hye Youn vs. Minatsu Mitani

About Tarek Hafi