KOREA OPEN 2014 R16 – Bae serves China only 2nd loss

Bae Yeon Ju provided a ray of light in an otherwise dismal day for the home team at the 2014 Victor Korea Open Superseries, becoming only the second player this […]

Bae Yeon Ju provided a ray of light in an otherwise dismal day for the home team at the 2014 Victor , becoming only the second player this week to fend of a Chinese challenge.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Seoul.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

The second round results at the 2014 Victor Korea Open Superseries were remarkably unremarkable.  While the matches themselves provided plenty of thrills, only one real upset interrupted an otherwise predictable list of results, the only other two seeds coming as victims of brand-new but already proven Chinese pairs.

China once again suffered only a single defeat on the day at the hands of another team, added to the two losses in all-Chinese matches.  After World Champion Ratchanok Intanon saw off Suo Di on Day 2, in the 2nd round it looked as if the current World Junior Champion would be the one getting in on the action.  Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi (pictured below) erased Han Li’s first 6 match points then missed on one of her own before going down 21-23 in the third game.

Thus it was left to Bae Yeon Ju (pictured above), winner of the last major women’s singles title on Korean soil, to do the honours.  She shut down Yao Xue in straight games to book her spot in the quarter-finals.

“Yao is very good in the forecourt and since my strength is playing from deep in the backcourt, it is difficult to play against her,” said Bae Yeon Ju after the match.  “In the second game, after I’d been serving short for most of the match, I started to use more variety to keep her guessing.

“Late in the game, she kept wanting to come forward and I tried to deceive her into thinking it was coming short and then pushing it deep to keep her wrong-footed.  I think that contributed to my run of points toward the end.”

In Malaysia last year, it was Yao Xue (pictured) who denied Bae a return to the Malaysia Open final.  She had been there in 2010, a week after Sung Ji Hyun’s runner-up finish in Korea but in 2013, Bae was unable to make her own one-step-further performance to match Sung’s victory at home, again in the week previous to Malaysia.

“Last year, when I lost to Yao in the Malaysia Open semi-final, she beat me at the net on too many points.  I wasn’t used to her playing style then and I couldn’t match her speed either.

“That was really disappointing.  Beating Yao here certainly helps to ease that disappointment, especially because I was able to beat her in front of a home crowd.

“Next, I play Wang Yihan.  I’ve played her many times and we’ve each beaten the other several times so I’ll try to play my best as I always do against her and if I play with some tenacity, I can catch her off guard and hopefully things will go my way.

“In that Court #3, the fans are so close and so loud that it really helps to give you strength.  I’ve seen seating arrangements like that in Europe but not so much in Asian tournaments.  The spectators are usually a little farther away.  In power-draining situations, it gives you power.”

Bae’s win was a rare beacon of hope for the Korean team, which lost no fewer than ten matches on the day, a total that includes the elimination of all four of its mixed doubles pairs and the last Korean men’s singles entry.

While none of those were favoured to win, Ko A Ra and Yoo Hae Won were seeded 8th and lost to the Luo twins.  However, even the Indonesian Grand Prix Gold champions have an unreasonably low ranking that is based on only 4 tournaments.

The same is true of Liu Cheng and Bao Yixin (pictured above), whose 7 tournaments are not enough to give them a respectable ranking but who again proved that they were more than a match for Hong Kong’s 6th-seeded Lee Chun Hei / Chau Hoi Wah, whom they edged out 22-20 in a deciding game.

The one unequivocal upset came when Goh V. Shem and Lim Khim Wah (pictured) got the better of #8 seeds Lee Sheng Mu / Tsai Chia Hsin of Chinese Taipei in three games.  The chance the Malaysians now have of reaching the semi-finals depends on their ability to win their first ever match against top seeds Boe/Mogensen.

Click here for complete Thursday results

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net