KOREA OPEN 2015 SF – Lee/Yoo oust defending champs

Home favourites Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong survived a 100-minute marathon semi-final to keep defending champions Boe and Mogensen out of their fourth Korea Open final. By Don […]

Home favourites Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong survived a 100-minute marathon semi-final to keep defending champions Boe and Mogensen out of their fourth final.

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

In the first two matches on each court, the last four defending champions held court.  Wang Yihan had almost followed on after Chen Long in booking her second consecutive finals appearance when the first match – and the highlight of the day for the local spectators – finally reached its conclusion.

Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong (pictured below) trailed through most of the first two games before finally snatching the lead toward the end.  In the first game, defending champions Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (pictured right) managed to pull it out in extra points.

After the pairs traded some very sharp service returns, Yoo Yeon Seong let a short serve drop over the line.  Unlike at the World Championships, however, Yoo didn’t insist on an impossible challenge and nor did the misjudgement end up costing him the match.

The Koreans edged out the Danes in the second but it wasn’t until late in the deciding game that they opened up a big lead.  Even then, the Danes saved 2 match points before Lee and Yoo took the third game 21-17 to send Yoo Yeon Seong to his first ever Korea Open final.

“Our bodies felt a little heavy so it was a really difficult match to play,” said Lee Yong Dae after the match.  “Still, I’ve played a lot of difficult matches and I was able to just think that if we keep at it, we can catch up and pass them and I think that was how we were able to win.  I am pretty happy with how it turned out.”

“I think this match was a lot more tiring than the others I’ve played against them,” added Yoo Yeon Seong who, unlike his partner, had never beaten the Danes in Korea before.  “We had to keep hitting and moving and expending energy and that was tiring and we didn’t always keep it going.  But we have to concentrate on staying light on our feet and keep moving so we can maintain the attack.”

“Today, they didn’t play with their usual style,” said Lee.  “They were more precise and I think they were trying to use the fact that the shuttles were slow.  Yeon Seong’s smash wasn’t coming down as fast so they didn’t give me as many opportunities to move in and take the net and kept the rallies to the back.  This wasn’t the same as the other matches we’ve played against them but because we have consistently beaten them, we remained confident and that’s how we were able to win again this time.

“As we got into the match, I just found that the Danes were controlling the front court and I thought it would give us an advantage if I could get the serve over them.  So I don’t usually serve long that much but in the first game, it felt like they were coming in so fast on my serve and I got a little flustered so in the second, I tried serving long several times and it seemed to work.

On his preference for an opponent in the finals, Yoo said, “Both teams play great defense and would be great opponents. However, if our team-mates were to advance and if we could play an all-Korean final, from our point of view, that seems like it would be a great final to play.

“This will be my first Korea Open final but I don’t think it’s that meaningful.  I have played lots of finals and won various titles and I think of this as another tournament that I want to win.  Of course, there are lots of spectators here to watch us and cheer for us so we do want to be sure to keep our nerves in check and to concentrate on taking control of the net and play a good match.  Yong Dae has a lot of experience playing finals here so I think that will be helpful and we should be able to play well.”

In the following match, Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Ha Na managed to dominate their second game against defending champions and world #1 Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei but they themselves were dominated on either side of that.  The Chinese pair thus advance to the finals to face Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir.  The Indonesians enjoyed a one-sided victory over England’s Adcocks to book Natsir her first appearance in a Korea Open final since 2006, the last time the event was held during the summer months.

Last year’s singles winners, Chen Long and Wang Yihan (pictured above), each enjoyed easy two-game victories.  Chen Long continued his unbeaten record against world #3 Kento Momota (pictured bottom) and Wang prevented her compatriot Wang Shixian from reaching her fourth final in Korea.

Click here for complete semi-final 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