KOREA OPEN 2015 Finals – Here’s a home Superseries title for Yoo

Yoo Yeon Seong takes his first Korea Open title and Lee Yong Dae his 7th as they beat the two Kims to start off finals day. By Don Hearn, Badzine […]

Yoo Yeon Seong takes his first title and Lee Yong Dae his 7th as they beat the two Kims to start off finals day.

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

Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong were favourites to take the title last January but fell in the quarter-finals.  This year, they carried the momentum from a tough semi-final over the defending champions to deal their team-mates Kim Ki Jung / Kim Sa Rang a straight-game victory.

“Last year, because of the pending doping hearing, I really didn’t’ have the concentration level I needed,” said Lee Yong Dae.  “I should have been able to put it out of my mind, but I just couldn’t, while playing or even training, and we ended up having a disappointing tournament.”

“This year, I wouldn’t say that I was in top form physically but I was able to rely on my experience and could win many points less strenuously and I think that contributed to the result.  This was a chance to win a Korea Open title with Yeon Seong for the first time and people were expecting us to win so that put pressure on us and we had to maintain our concentration so I am so happy to have won.

“This was an event I really wanted to win because I had never won a Korea Open title,” said Yoo Yeon Seong.  “Last week, the Japan Open was a tough tournament to play because the shuttles there were slow so our stamina was not at its best.  But as Yong Dae said, we basically know how to deal with situations like this where we have to play while dealing with some fatigue.  For me, I knew that Yong Dae has been in this situation many times and he’s a great player so I felt I could rely on him to maintain control of the game and I could play with confidence.”

“Kim Ki Jung and Kim Sa Rang are excellent players,” said Lee Yong Dae.  “We got a big lead in the first game but you still never know how the match is going to go so we couldn’t lay back and relax.

“This was a match between team-mates and there was a lot of pressure on us because the focus was on us to be the champions.  It worked out well that we were able to take the lead from the beginning and keep it.

“I think in situations like when we are one or two points behind, we have to stay focused and not give away easy points and let it open up to four or five points.  We are better at dealing with situations like that than we were a year ago.  Yesterday’s match was a really tricky one too and there was a danger of just falling apart but we are better at dealing with matches like that now.”

With Kim and Kim reaching the final, it looks more encouraging that there might be a second Korean pair reach the world’s top 8 and qualify for Rio.  After the Japan Open, Kim/Kim were 14th in the BWF’s new Race to Rio rankings, on the strength of 6 tournaments, while Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol were 9th but on only 5 tournaments.

“From our point of view, it would be great to have two Korean pairs go to Rio,” said Lee Yong Dae.  “For one thing, there would be more pressure on us if we were the only Koreans there.

“Also, it helps that we have two other top pairs to push us both in training and tournaments.  So if they – we don’t know if it will be Sung Hyun and Baek Cheol or Ki Jung and Sa Rang – but if another Korean team were to make it to Rio, that would be great.  To send two teams, both have to be in the top 8 in the world and at the moment, we don’t have that but they’ll have to try hard so that could happen.

“Of course in situations like this, we want them to get points but we can’t help them,” added Yoo Yeon Seong.  “They have to do their best and win on their own talent.”

“Qualification for the Olympics is based on your best ten results but even once we have those points from ten events, we still need to keep playing tournaments,” said Lee Yong Dae.  “There are things that I still need to improve on, like my drive game and my net play needs work so I think the only way to keep improving is to compete in tournaments and to play hard to win them.  I think tournaments are the best training.  We have to get more experience winning and use that experience to stay on top.

“I think this was a tough tournament to play because we had troubles with nerves and we had to work hard to maintain our concentration and to control the games.  It’s really good experience for us that we were able to do that and win the tournament.”

Asked whether they felt lucky that Kim/Kim had beaten two major rivals in the earlier rounds, Lee Yong Dae said, “We can’t deny that by beating Ahsan and Setiawan and Fu and Zhang, they did us a favour so in a way that made it easier to win the tournament but on the other hand, Ki Jung and Sa Rang are also a great pair and they are particularly strong in drive rallies and their net play so in the end it was similarly challenging.”

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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