UBER CUP Final – Another 3 straight for China

China survived an upset of their only World Champions to beat Korea and take a 3rd straight Uber Cup. By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live) China may have had the […]

China survived an upset of their only World Champions to beat Korea and take a 3rd straight Uber Cup.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

China may have had the rare experience of contesting an Uber Cup final without a reigning world #1 but they still had what it took to best Korea 3-1, relying on a scratch women’s doubles pairing for the winning point.

The final tie began with some similarity to 2012, the last time these two teams met in the Uber Cup final.  That time as well, Sung Ji Hyun took a one-game lead and looked as if she might be able to put Korea on a winning track.

Saturday’s opponent, though, was Li Xuerui (pictured), who has lost only once to Sung in 16 meetings over the past 9 years.  Once again, Li pulled it together to dominate the second and third games and take the crucial first point in the tie for the home team in Kunshan.

World Champions down

Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan (pictured below) came into the second match of the Uber Cup final riding high after beating the world #1 pair in the semi-final.  However, that win was a success they had tasted before.  In fact, the last time the Koreans beat Matsutomo and Takahashi, they were supposed to meet reigning World Champions Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei (pictured) in the Denmark Open final but instead ended up with their only Superseries title to date due to a walkover by the Chinese veterans.

This time, Jung and Shin had to work for their victory and that they did!  After the Chinese favourites took the first game, the Koreans bounced back from a slow start in the second and gained the upper hand with relentless attacking and solid defense.  Zhao Yunlei had to get some attention to her injured knee at one point but she fought on, only to see the Koreans even the score at one game apiece.

The deciding game was neck-and-neck throughout but Tian and Zhao made a 4-point run to earn two match points.  The Koreans saved the first when Jung sent both Chinese players sprawling to retrieve a shot on their forehand sideline.

After saving those first two match points, Jung was called for a service fault and Shin committed a nervous 3rd shot error but the Koreans kept their head in the game and after a few more thrilling, fast-paced rallies, they won on their third match point opportunity with a hard, flat smash from Jung Kyung Eun.

Youth vs. experience

Even with the win in the first women’s doubles, things looked dire for Korea as they needed at least one win in singles.  With Bae Yeon Ju on the bench after withdrawing on Friday with an ankle injury, it meant that Korea was relying on two inexperienced players, Kim Hyo Min and Lee Jang Mi.

Not only have neither of these ladies yet recorded a win over a top ten player, but their opponents, Wang Shixian and Wang Yihan respectively, are some of the toughest opponents to beat for anyone already in the top ten.  The tall 20-year-old Kim Hyo Min (pictured left) has beaten two-time World Champion Carolina Marin, but that was before the Spaniard turned 20 and before she had won any of her major titles.

Wang Shixian (pictured below) did exactly as expected and was simply far too strong and too consistent for Kim.  She won in straight games and set the stage for an intriguing second women’s doubles.

On paper, world #8 Jang Ye Na / Lee So Hee should have been the favourites over the scratch pairing of world #2 Tang Yuanting and 18-year-old Chen Qingchen (pictured bottom).  However, what the paper wouldn’t show is that the Koreans had never beaten Tang with her regular partner Yu Yang and that they had lost three times in a row to Chen and her junior partner.

Chen Qingchen was anything but a nervous teenager on court on Saturday.  An absolute bundle of energy, she took control of the net area from the start and kept her intensity high throughout as Tang continued to hammer down smashes from the rear court to set up Chen’s interceptions.

The Koreans tried to keep the score close but were able to save only one match point at the end and Chen and Tang took it 21-14, 21-16 to seal the tie for the host nation.

The tournament will end on Sunday afternoon, when Denmark will challenge Indonesia in the hopes of becoming the third new Cup winner in the last four editions of the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals.

Final result: China 3, Korea 1
WS1:  Li Xuerui (CHN) beat Sung Ji Hyun (KOR)  14-21, 21-13, 21-10
WD1:  Tian Qing / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) lost to Jung Kyung Eun / Shin Seung Chan (KOR)  21-16, 17-21, 23-25
WS2:  Wang Shixian (CHN) beat Kim Hyo Min (KOR)  21-13, 21-12
WD2:  Chen Qingchen / Tang Yuanting (CHN) beat Jang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (KOR)  21-14, 21-16
WS3:  Wang Yihan (CHN) vs. Lee Jang Mi (KOR)  [not played]

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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