ALL ENGLAND 2014 QF – Ko goes for two!

Ko Sung Hyun got himself into two semi-finals, despite the military hiatus that prevented him from playing much in the last three months, while the English crowd will be treated […]

Ko Sung Hyun got himself into two semi-finals, despite the military hiatus that prevented him from playing much in the last three months, while the English crowd will be treated to a repeat of the last World Championship final as Li Xuerui and Ratchanok Intanon are set to meet again tomorrow.

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

Korean mixed doubles history seems to be well taken care of, with Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Ha Na (pictured) advancing to their second semi-final in two weeks.  And the task was not easy to begin with.  The relatively new pairing of Mads Pieler Kolding and Kamilla Rytter Juhl could count on their rather unknown status to disturb the Korean pair, but failed in front of the determination of their opponents.

Since we didn’t really how they play, we knew we had greater chances if we could make the game longer and longer; therefore we pushed them until we could physically take the advantage,” commented Ko Sung Hyun, who is himself fresh out of military basic training.

Ko and Kim, who are now to take on the current World Champions, are certainly not going into the encounter with pessimism.  “Ha Na and I know these players pretty well.  We know what to do and will definitely give our best tomorrow,” added Ko Sung Hyun, who played only three weeks of badminton since he entered the army in late December.

A few hours later, he proved again his great form by beating the fast Taiwan pair of Lee Sheng Mu and Tsai Chai Hsin, the duo responsible for ending Ko’s run at last summer’s World Championships.  It took almost an hour for Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol (pictured), who are new internationally but have been playing together in domestic tournaments since 2012.  The two close friends came back from losing the second game by only 2 points to rush through the rubber.

Since we play together domestically, it was much more easier for us to come and compete here,” commented Ko Sung Hyun. “Despite having lost the second game by a point, we were confident in our skills and really tried our best to come back and win this game.”

It is now onto his preparation for his second semi-final, where he will meet last year’s runners-up Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa of Japan.

Ko’s compatriot and fellow soldier Son Wan Ho (pictured) is slowly getting back to top form and indeed looks to be in his best shape ever after a very convincing win against Kenichi Tago.  Although he won in straight games, Private Son struggled to put the shuttle down but still managed to play his excellent defensive style.

Tago is a player I have been familiar with since we were juniors. I was pretty confident before entering the court, but never thought I could finish this match in straight games.  I feel really good now and whoever I meet tomorrow, I will definitely give all I have to give my best performance,” said Son who, incidentally, will be playing his semi-final against Lee Chong Wei.

About his military life, he added, “I think for me it really helped to improve my mental strength. I enter the court more confident and can manage my emotions much more easily than before.”

Impressively, Li Xuerui didn’t seem tired, even after the two tough matches she has had since the beginning of the competition.  The Olympic champion disposed of Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun in straight games, looking fitter than ever.

It was a much better performance today than my other matches and I am really pleased with it.  Now I will do my best tomorrow against Ratchanok,” commented Li Xuerui, obviously delighted with the outcome of her encounter.

Ratchanok Intanon, meanwhile, put an end to the fairy-tale run by Michelle Li (pictured) in straight games as well.  Despite more rebellion from the Canadian, the Thai star secured her place in the last four with less pressure on her shoulders this time.

I can’t say I was better physically because I was quite tired, but I felt much less pressure than my first matches.  Now I really want to try my best tomorrow against Li Xuerui,” admitted Ratchanok.

Click here for complete quarter-final results

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About Tarek Hafi