If the Chinese camp had reason to celebrate by assuring two all-Chinese finals, Korea too could be pleased as they took both title chances available, with Lee Chong Wei also joining in with a successful title defense.
By Kira Rin, Badzine Correspondent. Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)
Women’s singles – Home advantage finally works both ways!
This time, in front of her supporters, Sung Ji Hyun (pictured) played tight and tactical rallies, forcing Wang Shixian into disadvantageous positions. Tight net play meant that Wang had very limited options, either lifting high or into the net. Particularly vocal on court, Wang clearly showed hunger to defend her title, taking the second game to extra points, but it was not to be as Sung took the title, the third Korean lady to win it after Bang Soo Hyun (1993, 1994, 1996) and Jun Jae Youn (2005) of eras past.
Women’s doubles – “The best defence is a good offense”
Conversely, the reverse can also hold true as the Chinese pairs of Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang and Ma Jin / Tang Jinhua (pictured) demonstrated perfectly, using deep clears as a means of attack. With such deep clears, it would be a better decision to clear back rather than risk a weak attack and even in the opening rallies of the game, both sides were stuck at a continuous clearing stalemate, neither willing to take the risk.
Ma Jin held this in mind as they tried to tempt Wang and Yu to take the attacking initiative in a sly tactic to drain their stamina. Sensing that the match could drag on, Wang and Yu just decided to bite the bait and smash away, the attack proving too much for Ma/Tang’s faltering defence. Ultimately, Ma Jin and Tang Jinhua had to settle for second place in the face of these biting smashes as the gap slowly widened.
Men’s doubles – A smashing party to mark the year!
Despite Ko Sung Hyun being a new face in the Korea Open finals, this did not stop the crowd from chanting his name together with familiar faces of Lee Yong Dae (pictured below), Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen above the roll of the Korean pungmul buk drums. With the crowd supporting everyone on court, the professionals delivered a quality match, with a hearty serving of smashes. With every smash that earned a point, the crowd roared with approval at the fine display of power.
However Boe was unsatisfied with the service faults called against them, and even called for the referee to question the judgments. Despite this, the Danes fought bravely to the last point in this three-game match. With a deceptive drop, Ko Sung Hyun took his first ever title on Korean soil, earning sweet revenge for their defeat in last year’s China Open, much to the delight of the crowd.
Mixed doubles – Master magicians without limit
Changing racquets mid-rally is normally when the strings break and your partner can cover for you, however Zhao Yunlei added a new twist to an old trick by grabbing a racquet not only for herself but her partner Zhang Nan. What could have triggered such a trick but an intense round of smashing that led to both players breaking strings in the same rally. Zhang Nan had his own share of tricks defending a point blank net kill, only for Ma Jin to succeed with the next shot. Xu Chen too was up to his usual acrobatics, even half-somersaulting for a retrieval.
The sounds of the smashes would have been more at home in a men’s doubles match, paying testament to the power on display, even from the ladies Ma and Zhao. This being Ma Jin’s second final of the day, she and Xu Chen threw caution to the wind and smashed for every shot, ending the first game quickly in their favour 21-13. But for every action, there is a reaction and the price of constant power smashes comes at the cost of rapidly draining stamina, and Ma and Xu lost the second game 21-16.
Eventually, come the third game, only pride and the strong bonds shared between partners enabled the players to keep smashing. An exhausted Xu Chen became the prime target for such shots, letting Zhang and Zhao work their way to victory, reversing the score of the first game.
Men’s singles – Setting the record straight
For today’s Korea Open finalists, the head-to-head record stands at 6-1 in favour of Lee Chong Wei (pictured), with Du Pengyu’s only the single win in last year’s Superseries Finals, but even this came immediately before Lee withdrew, citing an injury. This time, with a third – and very lucrative – Korea Open title on the line, Lee Chong Wei set the record straight, cruising to victory against Du Pengyu.
Du was at a loss for replying to Lee’s fast and accurate shots, only mustering a poor imitation of his opponent’s defence, which Lee overcame easily. Showing the maturity that comes with age, Lee hit his tactical shots much more accurately and effectively, helping him wrap up the quickest match of the day, 21-12 21-15 in only 42 minutes.