MACAU OPEN SF – Seo and Huang to face off for doubles double

Seo Seung Jae of Korea beat not one but two top seeds en route to two finals, one against world #2 Huang Yaqiong, who is herself looking for two titles. […]

Seo Seung Jae of Korea beat not one but two top seeds en route to two finals, one against world #2 Huang Yaqiong, who is herself looking for two titles.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

20-year-old Seo Seung Jae started his whirlwind ascent from little-known singles player to the elite of world badminton doubles at the Sudirman Cup, when he and Choi Sol Gyu upset Chinese Taipei’s #1 pair Lee Yang / Lee Jhe Huei (pictured right).  On Saturday at the , he and his now regular men’s doubles partner, 18-year-old Kim Won Ho, dealt another upset to Lee/Lee, defending champions at the event.

The match started very close, with short rallies but plenty of suspense, especially once the Koreans caught the top seeds at 13-all.  It was neck-and-neck until the end, when Seo and Kim took it on their first opportunity.

The second game went from bad to worse for the Chinese Taipei pair.  Despite being defending champions and coming off the first win of their career, they just could not gain the upper hand.  They started the game giving away a few easy points because they were unable to control the length on their shots and from their, the Koreans just pushed their advantage, not letting up until they had taken it 21-8.

Seo Seung Jae and Kim Won Ho (pictured left) thus booked a spot in their first Gold men’s doubles final.  Both had been in Gold finals in mixed doubles – including the U.S. Open, where they faced each other – and the previous week they were runners-up in their first men’s doubles final, at the Canada Open.

Seo was back on court in the early evening to contest the mixed doubles semi-final against another #1 seed.  This time he was with former world #1 – and former Macau Open women’s doubles champion – Kim Ha Na (pictured top, with Seo Seung Jae) and it was more familiar territory.  He and Kim recorded their second win over top-seeded Lee Chun Hei / Chau Hoi Wah and proceeded into their third Grand Prix Gold final in three attempts.

Kim Won Ho, semi-finalist at the recent World Junior Championships, was not the only under-19 medallist to book a spot in the finals.  World Junior Champions Baek Ha Na and Lee Yu Rim (pictured right) gained entry to their first ever final in the senior badminton circuit, beating compatriots Kim So Yeong and Kong Hee Yong by producing an 8-point run to come back from 13-19 down in the deciding game and win the match.

Their performance followed up World Junior girls’ singles bronze medallist Cai Yanyan (pictured left) beating Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi in straight games to reach her first Grand Prix Gold final.  She won the China International Challenge earlier this year but this is her first appeanance in a major final.

Cai’s opponent will be another first-time Grand Prix Gold finalist.  Pai Yu Po of Chinese Taipei went straight from a semi-final in Germany to Macau where she played a tough three-game battle to go one better.  She beat 20-year-old Zhang Yiman to take her place in the Macau Open final.  She hopes to produce the first Grand Prix Gold women’s singles sibling winner duo as her sister Pai Hsiao Ma won the U.S. Open five years ago.

The two 17-year-olds from Korea, meanwhile, must face current Korea Open champions Huang Yaqiong and Yu Xiaohan.  Both Chinese players have Macau Open titles to their name, though not together and Huang’s is in mixed doubles.  They beat Indonesia’s Della Destiara Haris / Tiara Rosalia Nuraidah in two games.

Huang Yaqiong (pictured bottom) is the other player going for two titles in Macau and her first test on Sunday will be against Seo and Kim in the mixed final.  She and Zheng are in their first tournament together but will be taking this partnership to the next two Superseries events as well.  Zheng has already clinched a spot for the in Dubai, while Huang can only be prevented from qualifying by their compatriots Wang/Huang winning both China and Hong Kong.

For now, the Chinese duo will be focusing on a first title in the new combination.  Zheng beat Seo and Kim handily in France with his world #1 partner Chen Qingchen but this will be a new test of the new pair against the dangerous Koreans.

The men’s singles will feature former world #2 Kento Momota (pictured right) in his biggest final since he won the India Open last year, immediately before being suspended by his national association.  He beat former world #1 Lee Hyun Il of Korea in two easy games and will face Indonesia’s Ihsan Maulana Mustofa.

Mustofa was granted a walkover by the injured Zulfadli Zulkiffli and will be playing in his second Grand Prix Gold final.  His opponent, suprisingly, is playing in his first.  He won all four of his Superseries titles before appearing even in a Grand Prix final.

Finals line-up
XD:  Zheng Siwei / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) [5] vs. Seo Seung Jae / Kim Ha Na (KOR) [6]
WS:  Pai Yu Po (TPE) vs. Cai Yanyan (CHN)
MS:  Ihsan Maulana Mustofa (INA) [14] vs. Kento Momota (JPN)
WD:  Huang Yaqiong / Yu Xiaohan (CHN) [8] vs. Baek Ha Na / Lee Yu Rim (KOR)
MD:  Wahyu Nayaka Arya Pangkaryanira / Ade Yusuf Santoso (INA) vs. Kim Won Ho / Seo Seung Jae (KOR)

Click here for complete semi-final results

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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