SUDIRMAN CUP 2013 Final – China, of course!

China proved yet again they are too consistent and too powerful for the other countries in the world of badminton as they only needed six games to win their 9th […]

China proved yet again they are too consistent and too powerful for the other countries in the world of badminton as they only needed six games to win their 9th since 1995.

By Mior Muzaffar Mior Dahalan, Badzine Correspondent live in Kuala Lumpur.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Before the opening match on Sunday, China was seeking their 5th consecutive title and 9th title in history while Korea was seeking their 4th title and their first since their famous victory over China in the 2003 edition. A large crowd of Korean supporters made largely from Korean expatriates living in Kuala Lumpur had gathered at the Putra National Indoor Stadium here in Kuala Lumpur. Even most of the local badminton fans were lending their support to the Korean team in hope of witnessing an upset against the defending champion China. Chinese supporters, however, answered with noise as drums were brought in to give a fiery atmosphere that had been missing most of the week.

Ma and Xu avenge their compatriots

The first match of the afternoon, the mixed doubles, featured the #1 pair in world China’s Xu Chen / Ma Jin (photo) against the 2013 Asian champions, Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na.  The Koreans had beaten world #3 Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei en route to their Asian title, so it made perfect sense for Li Yongbo to field Ma and Xu, who had never lost to any Korean pair.

In the first game, it was very tight from the beginning with both pairs playing low drives and keeping the shuttle low – hardly giving their opponents the opportunity to attack. Neither pair had the upper hand and the score line 11-10 just shows how close it was. But after the interval, the Chinese pair seemed to step up a gear and took the next 11 points while Koreans scored only 2 points as Xu/Ma wrapped it up 21-13.  The Korean pair never recovered and subsequently lost the 2nd game 15-21.

“It wasn’t a problem to play again today after playing 2 matches yesterday.  We just couldn’t produce a very good performance today and at the same time we felt slightly pressured to earn the first point to Korea,” explained Ko Sung Hyun after their loss.  “The Chinese pair played aggressively throughout the match and their attacking play was working in their favour.

“Overall, we are quite happy with our performance in this tournament, but we need to participate in more tournaments as we are a new pairing,” added Ko before excusing himself to prepare himself for his 2nd match in the men’s doubles.

Up next was the men’s singles event, with what many saw as the most unbalanced match-up of the afternoon, between world #2 Chen Long (photo) aged 24, against the newcomer and world #63, Lee Dong Keun (photo) from Korea.  There was no surprise as Chen Long won easily 21-15, 21-10 to give China a 2-0 lead.

“It was good experience for me as this is the first world event that I have participated in and I am happy with my performance in this tournament,” said Lee Dong Keun.

When asked whether he thinks he is the key player for China in Lin Dan’s absence, Chen Long promptly answered “No, I just want to help the team to win a point, that’s all. Every match that I played was very tough and my team-mates supported me throughout the tournament.  My toughest match would be the game against Denmark.

“The World Championships are still 1-2 months away.  Now I just want to rest.  It has been a tiring tournament and I don’t want to think about the World Championships.”

Li : “All credit to players and coaches”

Then the 3rd match was expected to be one of the best to watch – the men’s doubles match between 2013 All England champions Liu Xiaolong / Qiu Zihan (photo) from China against World #2 Ko Sung Hyun / Lee Yong Dae from Korea. This was another sensible decision by the Chinese coaches by dropping the Olympic champions Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng – who had lost their quarter- and semi-final matches – and replacing them with the younger pair of Liu/Qiu who had won their last two matches against the top Korean pair.

The Chinese players were all pumped up throughout the match and played a brilliant attacking game with their powerful smashes and great anticipation to end Korea’s resistance in this event with a close 21-19, 21-17 win. The Koreans just couldn’t get their game going and were always chasing shadows in this match, while the Chinese were in smashing form, in particular Qiu Zihan, who would smash any shuttle that was lifted in his court mercilessly. This win from the Chinese men’s doubles pair gave their team the resounding 3-0 victory and the coveted Sudirman Cup trophy for the 9th time in the history of Sudirman Cup.

At the end, this Chinese team proved they are the best team in the world and showed they have the depth in talent to be able to rotate their players without compromising the overall strength of the team. When asked about his team performance in this tournament, Korean head coach Lee Deuk Choon said, “I didn’t expect my team to come this far, but the players showed great commitment and this helped the Korean team achieve this. The young Chinese men’s doubles have improved a lot this year.  Our pair lost to them at the Indian Open too.

“Overall we need to improve.  We are okay in the doubles categories but we are in trouble in the men’s singles. China is the best team.  We have a lot of catching up to do,” concluded Lee.

China’s head coach Li Yongbo was in a joyful mood after the trophy presentation and when asked how he felt about his team performance, he said “It’s not easy to win 5 times in a row, but all credit to our players and coaches that have sacrificed a lot to the team and we are pleased to win this tournament again. We are pleased to see a lot of countries such as Thailand and Chinese Taipei have improved and we hope other countries will follow suit and challenge us in the future, it is good for badminton to have more countries to challenge for the top honors in badminton.

“I think the Korean mixed doubles were over confident in their match since that they never been beaten by a Chinese pair before.  “As for Chen Long, he didn’t get any sleep last night because he was so worried about his match today.

“I didn’t expect us to win 3-0 today.  You must remember that we only won 3-2 against Indonesia and 3-1 against Denmark yesterday. Except for the men’s singles, I expected the Koreans to give us a good fight in all other events and men’s doubles played above expectation.”

On his team’s domination in the world of badminton, Li said, “We sacrificed a lot to be at this level.  We deserve every medal and championship that we have won.  I hope other countries will work harder to stop us, but we won’t give up our titles so easily.

“The older players know that one day they will have to retire, the same as I did was when I was the Chinese team.  This is normal.  The important thing is to leave a lasting legacy in world of badminton and a good example of this is what Lin Dan and the doubles Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng have done in the past 10 years.”

Finally, when asked whether he would help out to make badminton more competitive in other countries, he replied with a smile, “I’m always happy to help, but I’m only the Chinese head coach.  I’m not working for the BWF.  They have so many capable people in their team, they wouldn’t listen to me.”

Sudirman Cup Final resultChina 3, Korea 0
XD: Xu Chen / Ma Jin (CHN) beat Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na (KOR)  21-13, 21-15
MS: Chen Long (CHN) beat Lee Dong Keun (KOR)  21-15, 21-10
MD: Liu Xiaolong / Qiu Zihan (CHN) beat Ko Sung Hyun / Lee Yong Dae (KOR)  21-19, 21-17
WS: Li Xuerui (CHN) vs. Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) [not played]
WD: Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang (CHN) vs. Jung Kyung Eun / Kim Ha Na (KOR) [not played]

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About Mior Muzaffar Dahalan