THAILAND OPEN 2015 Finals – 3 golds for Korea

On a dreary and stormy Sunday in Bangkok, four players captured first ever Grand Prix Gold titles, while Korea’s singles veterans took the other two. Story and photos by Gerald […]

On a dreary and stormy Sunday in Bangkok, four players captured first ever Gold titles, while Korea’s singles veterans took the other two.

Story and photos by Gerald Jew, Badzine Correspondent live in Bangkok.

The Korean team sent a strong contingent to this year’s SCG Grand Prix Gold 2015, and it paid off handsomely.  Korea has traditionally done well in Thailand, including sweeping the doubles on two occasions, but this year marks the first time that singles titles will also head back to Korea, along with one of the doubles teams after Korean participants competed in four of the five finals.

The only loss for Korea on Sunday was the women’s doubles team of Jang Ye Na and Lee So Hee, who again had to settle for silver medals, as they had at the Korea Open late last month.  They lost in three games to China’s Huang Dongping and Li Yinhui (pictured) in the day’s first match.

The young Chinese pair were the first of three to win their first-ever Grand Prix Gold titles.  It was only a first in women’s doubles and in this partnership for 20-year-old Huang, who won the mixed title at the U.S. Open this past summer but for Li, 18, this was by far her best result in the senior events.

Sung Ji Hyun began the Korean gold medal haul when she defeated Singapore’s unexpected finalist, Liang Xiaoyu (pictured top) in a relatively easy two-game match, 21-11, 21-14.  Liang, the unseeded, 120th ranked women’s singles player was the story of the tournament after she beat Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon on Saturday.  Any dreams Liang had of taking home the gold were quickly dashed by Sung, who now has won her last two tournaments in succession.

Liang, who was competing in her first major tournament final, wasn’t overly disappointed: “I was quite nervous today.  I made a lot of mistakes myself, a lot of easy mistakes.  [Sung] was quite strong today and I had a hard time defending the whole court.  But this tournament gives me a lot of confidence, and hopefully next time I will do better.”

In men’s doubles, the Malaysian pair of Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong held a match-point in the second game at 20-19 before losing the game 21-23, and eventually the match to Indonesia’s 5th-seeded Wahyu Nayaka Arya Pankaryanira and Ade Yusuf (pictured).

A philosophical Koo said after the match, “When we first came here, we just came to enjoy ourselves, to get back some of the standard we used to play, play some of the top players and get back some our game.  At the moment, we have a lot to improve on – many, many things to improve on.  The Olympics are our main goal, but we don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves, just play hard.”

The Indonesians thus did one better than their Grand Prix title at the Dutch Open two years ago, a tournament they forewent this year.  They were not able to kick off an Indonesian winning streak in Bangkok, however.

The mixed doubles saw the unseeded pair of Choi Sol Gyu and Eom Hye Won (pictured) take home Korea’s second gold medal of the day when they beat Indonesia’s 3rd-seeded Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto in a sixty-two-minute three-game match.

Korea finally seems to have settled on their mixed and women’s doubles partnerships and this is the best result this year for any of their new pairings.   Choi was the last player of the afternoon to nab his first Grand Prix Gold title, something Eom had done 5 times before with other partners, but the last of those was nearly 3 years ago.

In the day’s final match, Korea’s ageless 35-year-old Lee Hyun Il beat 19-year-old Ihsan Maulana Mustofa (pictured) of Indonesia in the fourth three-game match on Sunday.  Lee, who held a match point in the second game, only to eventually lose that game, came storming back to take the third game easily, by a score of 21-8.

About his win, Lee said after the match, “In the first game, I just wanted to enjoy the game and play well.  In the second, I started to feel tired.  In the third game, the points were easier and then I could start to relax.”

The circuit now begins a four-week string of major tournaments in Europe, beginning with the Dutch Open this week, which Koo and Tan are slated to play in.  Some of the players will be resting one week and holding out for the Denmark Open Superseries Premier, while still others will wait for the new Grand Prix event in Taiwan in mid-October.

Korea’s players will all be heading right back for the National Sports Festival, the only domestic event of the year when players compete for their provinces.  Eom Hye Won, along with women’s doubles runners-up Jang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (pictured bottom), all have matches scheduled in Wonju for Monday afternoon.

Final results
WD: Huang Dongping / Li Yinhui (CHN) beat Jang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (KOR)  20-22, 21-11, 21-15
WS: Sung Ji Hyun [2] (KOR) beat Liang Xiaoyu (SIN)  21-11, 21-14
MD: Wahyu Nayaka Arya Pankaryanira / Ade Yusuf (INA) [5] beat Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong (MAS)  20-22, 23-21, 21-16
XD: Choi Sol Gyu / Eom Hye Won (KOR) beat Praveen Jordan / Debby Susanto (INA) [3]  21-19, 17-21, 21-16
MS: Lee Hyun Il (KOR) [4] beat Ihsan Maulana Mustofa (INA)  21-17, 22-24, 21-8

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