KOREA OPEN 2015 Finals – Asian Games winners win first Superseries!

Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari returned to the country of their Asian Games gold to win the first Superseries of their career. By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in […]

Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari returned to the country of their Asian Games gold to win the first of their career.

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

It is an understatement to say that a first career Superseries title was a long time coming for the Indonesians, and for Greysia Polii in particular.  Polii was the women’s doubles runner-up at the very first tournament to sport the Superseries brand.  Every other runner-up from that 2007 Malaysia Open has either gotten around to winning a title at this level or has retired from the sport.

On the other hand, it wasn’t just their two Superseries runner-up finishes that convinced their supporters that a title was just around the corner.  The Asian Games gold medal last September was another indicator and the fact that they won it in Korea was auspicious.  In fact, Polii first reached the final of the in 2006, before the Superseries began but it is her recent form with Maheswari that foretold this long-awaited title.

“This is for Indonesia, for all women’s doubles in Indonesia,” said Greysia Polii after the match.  “We played our best and we wanted to win so much, we wanted to be champions here.

“Now I can say yes, not maybe any more, because Korea is one the best places for us.  We had our breakthrough here, with the Asian Games gold medal and now the Superseries.  You know, for a long time, Indonesia hasn’t got any Superseries titles in women’s doubles, for many years, so now we have broken that spell.

“I’m really so very, very glad that I can finally get a Superseries title.  It’s been nearly ten years since 2006, when I was in the final here but we didn’t get the title and in the previous years also, we could only get to a final, final, and final but now we are so thankful that we could finally, finally get a win in a Superseries event.”

The Koreans got the upper hand early on but the visitors surged after the first mid-game interval and then controlled the rest of the match.  Late in the second, the Koreans struggled valiantly from 15-19 down to pull within one.

The crowd was right into these thrilling rallies and Greysia Polii’s spectacular jump smashes – which she says may have improved with her fitness – seemed to strike fear into the Korean spectators as much as they piled the pressure onto the Koreans’ defense.  In between rallies, the Indonesian spectators kept the mood high with chants of Habisin! (Finish it!).

“Of course our opponents are playing in front of their home crowd and the spectators were cheering loudly for them,” said Polii, “but you know, somehow I felt that we were playing in Indonesia.  In the crowd here there were so many Indonesians, it was incredibly amazing.”

Asked if there is anything new happening in training that has led to the great results recently, Polii said, “Yes, I think it is that our coach [Eng Hian], is very, very smart.  I have to say that he is damn smart: his strategy, his personality, his aura, his character have made us one.  Not only me and Nitya but in the women’s doubles generally.”

Another for Zhao in her ‘lucky place’

The Indonesians were not the only ones for whom Korea is a lucky place.  This Korea Open title is the 8th Zhao Yunlei has won in 8 visits to Korea, starting back in 2004 with the Asian Junior Championships in rural Hwacheon.

“I think I’ve just been lucky,” Zhao said of her continued success in Korea.  “But I think Korea is where I played my first international tournament so maybe Korea is my lucky place.”

In the last final of the day, Zhao Yunlei and Zhang Nan also repeated their success from the Incheon Asian Games last September.  In their case, it was against the same silver medallists, Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir.  For the Olympic, Asian Games, and World Champions, it was in fact their twenty-fifth Superseries title together.

“I don’t really count the number of titles I’ve won,” said a glowing Zhao Yunlei after the final, “but I am happy and I will try to get more.”

On the ongoing changes in her team’s women’s doubles pairings, Zhao said “I am still focussing a lot on mixed doubles so I don’t mind the mixing of partnerships in doubles.  The Chinese team is preparing for the Olympics so maybe in Europe, the coaches will fix the women’s doubles.”

Zhao is, of course, the two-time women’s doubles World Champion but she and Tian Qing have only one result that currently can count toward Olympic qualifying and only one result that will count toward qualifying for the Superseries Finals in Dubai.  However, she and Tian will be back together and entered in the next two Superseries events, in Denmark and France.

Final results
MD: Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) [1] beat Kim Ki Jung / Kim Sa Rang (KOR)  21-16, 21-12
WS: Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) [6] beat Wang Yihan (CHN) [4]  21-14, 17-21, 21-18
MS: Chen Long (CHN) [1] beat Ajay Jayaram (IND)  21-14, 21-13
WD: Nitya Krishinda Maheswari / Greysia Polii (INA) [6] beat Jang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (KOR)  21-15, 21-18
XD: Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) [1] beat Tontowi Ahmad / Liliyana Natsir (INA) [2]  21-16, 21-15

Click here for complete 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