VIETNAM OPEN – Ko and Yeo win back titles

Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min may have won back the Vietnam Open title she took 2 years ago but for former World Champion Ko Sung Hyun, it was the first time […]

Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min may have won back the title she took 2 years ago but for former World Champion , it was the first time back in 11 years to the site of his first ever international title and he and Shin Baek Cheol raked in another one.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

Ko Sung Hyun first came to Vietnam way back in 2007.  Already in his second year of university, he had only made it onto the national team earlier that year, and in his second international outing with his former middle school team-mate Kwon Yi Goo, he made the Vietnam Open his first ever international title.

Fast forward 11 years and Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol have made the Vietnam Open their first international title since leaving the Korean national badminton team.  They narrowly beat Chinese Taipei veteran Lee Sheng Mu and his new partner Yang Po-Hsuan.

Of course, the Korean pair are best known for winning the 2014 World Championships but Shin left the national team over 2 years ago, shortly after it became clear that Korea would be sending world #4 Kim Gi Jung / Kim Sa Rang to the Rio Olympics and leaving Shin at home.  Ko, who was ranked #6 in men’s doubles with Shin, still played in the mixed doubles at the Olympics but he too left the national team in early 2017, after achieving the world #1 spot with a second partner.

The Vietnam Open is the Koreans’ first foray in an international event since they won an injunction against the , which was refusing to send the players’ entries in to the Badminton World Federation because of an internal rule that said players could not compete independently until age 31.  The court ruling was handed down in May.

Vietnam still lucky for Yeo

Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min (pictured above) came into Sunday’s final with exactly one major title.  That one came at the 2016 edition of this same event.  In that final, at 17, Yeo beat veteran Ayumi Mine, who was fresh from winning the U.S. Open Gold title.

This year, the women’s singles semi-final stage featured 3 of the 4 players from the Asian Championships.  The winner of that event, Han Yue, repeated her winning performance over Pattarasuda Chaiwan of Thailand but in the final, Yeo denied the 18-year-old Chinese shuttler her own first major title, winning a pair of 21-19 games.

Indonesia’s Alfian Eko Prasetya won the Vietnam Open last year with one partner and reached his first final of the year a couple of weeks ago with another partner.  On Saturday, he and yet another partner got Prasetya some payback when they beat the pair he’d lost to in the Japan Masters final.

The Indonesians looked strong taking the opening game 21-13 but Nipitphon Phuangphuapet and Savitree Amitrapai (pictured) of Thailand regrouped to eke out the second and third to take the title.  Both Thais have been stalwarts of their team’s doubles squad for years and even reached a Grand Prix Gold final together back in 2012 but today marked the first major mixed doubles title for either of them.

By the time of the mixed final, Indonesia already had one title, courtesy of world #79 Shesar Hiren Rhustavito (pictured).  Rhustavito has a few International Challenge and Series titles to his name, but this was his first in anything upwards of a .  He beat India’s Ajay Jayaram by the most decisive scoreline of the afternoon.

In the women’s doubles final, Nami Matsuyama / Chiharu Shida were in their 3rd final in 4 weekends.  They might have fancied their chances since they finally didn’t have to face compatriots Sakuramoto/Takata, who had relegated them to runner-up status on the last two occasions, but they did not have any better luck against Misato Aratama / Akane Watanabe.  The veteran Japanese pair tamed the youngsters in two close games.

The BWF tour now takes another short break, this time to accommodate the Asian Games.  The multi-sport event will only just be winding down when the Spain Masters get underway.  Of Sunday’s winners in Vietnam, only the men’s and women’s doubles champions are slated to appear in Spain.

Final results:
WD:  Misato Aratama / Akane Watanabe (JPN) [4] beat Nami Matsuyama / Chiharu Shida (JPN) [6]  21-18, 21-19
MS:  Shesar Hiren Rhustavito (INA) beat Ajay Jayaram (IND)  21-14, 21-10
XD:  Nipitphon Phuangphuapet / Savitree Amitrapai (THA) beat Alfian Eko Prasetya / Marsheilla Gischa Islami (INA)  13-21, 21-18, 21-19
WS:  Yeo Jia Min (SIN) beat Han Yue (CHN) [7]  21-19, 21-19

Click here for complete 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