KOREA OPEN 2016 SF – Chinese young guns poised to spoil Koreans’ party

Four tough Chinese challengers booked their berths for finals day at the Korea Open, including two pairs who toppled Korean veterans a week ago. By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live […]

Four tough Chinese challengers booked their berths for finals day at the , including two pairs who toppled Korean veterans a week ago.

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

Team Korea may be eyeing a title sweep for the first time in the history of the Korea Open but some talented young Chinese shuttlers have their own agenda for finals day in Seongnam.  Japan Open winners Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (pictured) and Zheng/Chen both booked their spots for Sunday, when they will attempt to add to their nascent title collections.

Korea had already booked their five finals spots when last week’s men’s doubles champions Li/Liu took to the court to try their hand at beating the new Olympic silver medallists.  At the interval in the first game, it looked as though the 21-year-olds from China would be having their way with Malaysia’s Goh V Shem / Tan Wee Kiong (pictured below) the way they had with the reigning World Champions.

However, the Malaysians bounced back from their 4-11 deficit to take a 15-14 lead after a 6-point run.  They continued to keep the shuttle low and their opponents guessing as they closed out the first game 21-18.

The next two games started out closer but especially in the decider, the tall Chinese youngsters were able to open it up in the latter half.  They finished the day but booking a date with World #1 Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong for a repeat of the Asian Championship final.

“I think they changed the speed of the game and started to move faster,” said Tan Wee Kiong after the match.  “We needed some time to come back and we tried but it was too late to pull out the second game.  In the deciding game, we also changed our tactics and it was quite close but in the end, we didn’t manage to finish the game because we lost too many points on simple errors.”

“Since the Olympic Games, we have been very busy in Malaysia because of celebrating and some events,” said Goh V Shem, “and then maybe we didn’t prepare enough for these two tournaments.  We hope that after this, in Denmark and France, we can do better.

“We hoped we could enter the final and play against Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong in the final because we hoped we could play a good match with them before they retire but, we couldn’t get into the final.”

“Maybe people are paying more attention to us now,” said Tan, “but this is a positive challenge for us.  We should try to accept it and try to figure out what goes wrong.

“Li and Liu have the height advantage and normally, people who are so tall are not so fast but they are different.  They have both at the same time – height and speed – so they have a good future ahead of them.”

Li and Liu beat Lee/Yoo at the China Open last year but this will be the first time for them to play the world #1s outside of China, although they did lose the 2014 Asian Championship final to Yoo and Shin Baek Cheol in Korea.

For mixed doubles pair Zheng Siwei / Chen Qingchen, the déjà vu will involve much fresher memories, as their Sunday opponents – Kim Ha Na and Ko Sung Hyun – are the same pair they dominated in the Japan Open final last week.  Zheng and Chen needed less than half an hour to see off Lee/Chau of Hong Kong.

Women’s doubles will feature Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan against Chinese twins Luo Ying and Luo Yu (pictured bottom).  The only previous encounter between these two finalists happened at the Rio Olympics.  To reach this final, the Luo sisters already repeated their Rio victory over Denmark’s Pedersen/Rytter Juhl, though it took them three tough games to do it.

The Koreans will be hoping to maintain that edge at home tomorrow as they attempt to post their first ever victory in a Superseries final.  Their only title to date, at this level, came when they got a walkover in the Denmark Open final last year.

The most unexpected Chinese finalist in Seongnam this year is Qiao Bin (pictured right).  Qiao beat Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki in the battle to see which man would gain entry to his first ever Superseries final.  Qiao will take on Son Wan Ho, who will attempt to become the third Korean to win the Korea Open men’s singles title.

Finals line-up
XD:  Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na (KOR) [1] vs. Zheng Siwei Chen Qingchen (CHN) [5]
MD:  Lee Yong Dae Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) [1] vs. Li Junhui Liu Yuchen (CHN) [7]
WS:  Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) [5] vs. Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) [7]
MS:  Son Wan Ho (KOR) [6] vs. Qiao Bin (CHN)
WD:  Jung Kyung Eun / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) [1] vs. Luo Ying / Luo Yu (CHN) [3]

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