U.S. OPEN 2018 SF – Like mothers, like offspring?

Korean underdogs finished off the 3rd upset of top-seeded shuttlers this week, putting both Kim Won Ho and Kim Hye Jeong into finals in an event their mothers won 25 […]

Korean underdogs finished off the 3rd upset of top-seeded shuttlers this week, putting both Kim Won Ho and Kim Hye Jeong into finals in an event their mothers won 25 years ago.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto and Don Hearn (archives)

Way back in 1993, the women’s doubles favourites at the were Chung So Young and Gil Young Ah.  Gold and silver medallists respectively at the inaugural Olympic badminton competition, they subsequently paired up and won the All England and the Korea, Swedish, and Japan Opens before descending on California to take their 5th of what would be a total of 9 major international titles together.

25 years later, Chung’s daughter Kim Hye Jeong (pictured) – who had not played a senior international tournament outside of Korea prior to this year – has made the U.S. Open her first appearance in a senior international final.  Playing together with veteran Kim So Yeong for the first time, they trounced top-seeded Japanese pair Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao to set up an encounter in the final with China’s Tang Jinhua and Yu Xiaohan.

Kim So Yeong has proven to be a very adaptable partner.  When she won the Chinese Taipei Open a year ago, it was in a more established partnership but the same cannot be said of her late season success in 2017 with Kong Hee Yong, nor of her win over the world #2 at the Uber Cup in a scratch pairing.  Then we come to this week and she is at it again, this time in a final with a brand-new partner.

Of course, the other semi-final was a much more exciting encounter.  Tang and Yu finally found the formula to reach an international final after they erased a 16-10 point lead by Vivian Hoo and Chow Mei Kuan in the second game and won it on their second match point.

Shortly after the two Kims had booked their spot in the final, Gil Young Ah’s son Kim Won Ho made his way into a U.S. Open final for the second straight year.  This time, he brought Kang Min Hyuk (pictured) along for the ride.  The two 19-year-olds have been playing together since elementary school and won their first national age group title back in 2009.  Kim won both a and a Gold title last year with older partners but this is Kang’s first international final, his best previous result being the pair’s semi-final finish at the Lingshui China Masters.

Kang and Kim had already done the heavy lifting, beating top seeds and Olympic bronze medallists Marcus Ellis / Chris Langridge in a three-game quarter-final.  Canada’s Jason Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura are no pushovers, however, and the 3-time Pan Am Champions stayed close on the Koreans’ heels in the first game but never recovered from a very slow start in the second.  Hopes of an all-Korean final had already been dashed when China’s Ou Xuanyi and Ren Xiangyu beat Kim Jae Hwan and Jung Jae Wook in two.

The third Korean in action on finals day is Lee Dong Keun.  He already got his big upset earlier in the week when he was two points away from a first ever victory over Lin Dan and the top seed retired.  It wasn’t a cruise into the final, though, as Lee was pushed to three games by Thailand’s Khosit Phetpradab and narrowly closed out the decider 21-18.

The highlight of finals day, though, will be women’s singles, as it was on semi-finals day.  2014 champion Zhang Beiwen (pictured) fought back to save 6 match points in a row, winning her second game 23-21 against defending champion Aya Ohori of Japan to force what would be a more one-sided decider.

Zhang won’t necessarily be the main attraction either.  She is actually the last one standing in the path of former Olympic champion Li Xuerui, who is on the verge of titling in her first ever appearance in North America.  Li took care of Canada’s Michelle Li in two games of 21-17.

European shuttlers will feature in two finals on Sunday.  Orleans Masters winner Mark Caljouw narrowly prevented a third game with India’s Ajay Jayaram, winning 23-21 in the second.  He will face Lee Dong Keun for the first time.  Meanwhile, German pairs were involved in both mixed doubles semi-finals, which were two of the shortest matches of the afternoon.  First Marvin Emil Seidel / Linda Efler relegated Ben Lane and Jessica Pugh to third place for the second straight year, then their team-mates Mark Lamsfuss / Isabel Herttrich fell almost as quickly, to Olympic silver medallists Chang Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying.

Finals line-up
MS:  Mark Caljouw (BEL) [6] vs. Lee Dong Keun (KOR)
WS:  Zhang Beiwen (USA) [1] vs. Li Xuerui (CHN)
WD:  Tang Jinhua / Yu Xiaohan (CHN) vs. Kim Hye Jeong / Kim So Yeong (KOR)
XD:  Marvin Emil Seidel / Linda Efler (GER) [4] vs. Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (MAS) [5]
MD:  Kang Min Hyuk / Kim Won Ho (KOR) vs. Ou Xuanyi / Ren Xiangyu (CHN)

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