ASIAN GAMES Day 7 – 6 out of 7 for Korea

The host nation keeps on showing the best of their game, winning six matches out of seven and securing at least three bronze medals, thanks to Bae Yeon Ju, who […]

The host nation keeps on showing the best of their game, winning six matches out of seven and securing at least three bronze medals, thanks to Bae Yeon Ju, who outplayed Ratchanok Intanon, and both men’s double pairs of Lee/Yoo and Kim/Kim.

By Tarek Hafi, Badzine Correspondent live in Incheon.  Photos: Don Hearn (live)

What ended up as a great day for host nation Korea didn’t exactly start in the most auspicious manner.  Mixed doubles titleholder Shin Baek Cheol, back in the , but with his new partner Jang Ye Na (pictured), was close to being ousted from the tournament in Incheon.

Neither the newly crowned men’s doubles world champion nor women’s doubles world #5 Jang could find any way to counter-attack Thailand’s Maneepong Jongjit and Sapsiree Taerattanachai (pictured).  In the end, though, this was just a brief moment of hesitation before the Korean duo finally started the engine and went on to dominate the second game.

We still have difficulties getting used to the conditions here and I must admit that this is pretty hard to come here as the title holder,” said Shin after the match.  “I was very young the last time I played in the Asian Games.

This is about 20 minutes by car from where I was born but I don’t think of this as home.  This is the city of Incheon and my hometown may be very close but it’s in another province so this is home.  We’re playing at home in Korea but that’s it.

Bae Yeon Ju gets Korea’s first individual medal

The world number six Bae Yeon Ju (pictured) got the first guaranteed medal for South Korea after a three-game battle against Ratchanok Intanon. The Korean clearly dominated in the first and deciding games, while running out of power in the second game.

I totally lost my self control in the second game, and also a bit in the third but I just thought about focusing on my match and thankfully I could make it and get at least a bronze medal,” said Bae afterward.

Ratchanok Intanon, meanwhile, was in complete disbelief after her loss, harshly beaten in the third game. The Thai prodigy, who suffered from several injuries and was hospitalized for a few days last month because of a severe case of the flu, never seemed to have found back her form since the World Championships.

A harder task is now at hand for Bae Yeon Ju as she is now set to meet Wang Yihan for a place in the Asian Games final.  It just so happens that Bae has never lost a semi-final match to Wang Yihan as two of the biggest finals appearances of her career came on the back of an upset of the Chinese ace.

A few minutes after their world number ones teammates, Kim Ki Jung (pictured below) and Kim Sa Rang reached the last four after a wonderfully played quarter-final against Japan’s Kamura and Sonoda. The two Korean players, now exempted from their military service after their gold medal in the team event, confessed their only aim is to have an all Korean final in men’s doubles.

Having an all-Korean final here is our biggest aim in these Asian Games.  Today we showed quite good play and we hope we will do as well tomorrow,” said Kim Ki Jung in his post match interview.

Top men’s singles player Son Wan Ho didn’t fail at his task despite meeting the solid Srikanth Kidambi from India, a player to whom he’s lost twice in two years, only to win their third encounter in the last Thomas Cup.

Son who, like fellow victor Bae Yeon Ju was born in Changwon, did not have it easy but capped off the long battle by winning 21-18 in the rubber.  He now joins Chen Long for a repeat of their team final match.

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