KOREA OPEN 2018 Finals – He and Du win career best

He Jiting and Du Yue of China joined Hiroyuki Endo in making the Korea Open the biggest title of their career to date. By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in […]

He Jiting and Du Yue of China joined Hiroyuki Endo in making the the biggest title of their career to date.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Seoul
Photos: Yves Lacroix / Badmintonphoto (live)

Less than two years after winning the World Junior title, Du Yue and He Jiting (pictured) found themselves standing atop the podium at a event.  It was only their first ever final at an event of this stature but the two 20-year-olds played with skill and confidence and shut down former world #1 Christinna Pedersen and new partner Mathias Christiansen in straight games.

The Sunday crowd at the SK Handball Gymnasium in Seoul was larger than many expected after all three Korean semi-finalists were eliminated on Saturday.  The Danish pair was responsible for the exit of the last of those three but still the crowd seemed to be on the side of the Europeans and Pedersen was also supported by her retired partner Kamilla Rytter Juhl, who was rooting from the players’ seating.

But the Chinese were obviously focused purely on the match and they kept the pressure on and defended solidly.  The first game was close throughout but He and Du stayed ahead in the closing rallies and took the one-game lead.

The Danes built up a 10-7 lead in the second game but at 8-10, the Danes seemed to stop playing in the middle of the rally after He Jiting used a between-the-legs defensive shot.  They did not fail to return the shuttle, however, and even appeared to keep the advantage in the rally but the Chinese finally got it back and won the point.  Christiansen was incensed and gestured repeatedly to the service judge but the umpire found no reason to take any action.

He later fired a drive serve just over Pedersen’s head.  This time the Danes let out a strong but very brief protest after losing the point but the Chinese continued the run after leading at the interval and were only stopped after 8 straight points but the Europeans never got their rhythm back to the point where they could get back in the match.

“The main reason to win is to challenge ourselves,” said He Jiting after the match.  “There are already two pairs at the top in China in mixed doubles so we have to fight to get to the same level as them.

“We now have more confidence and we’ll take that into our other tournaments because everybody is trying to win the first prize in any tournament.  Now that we’ve won this match, surely our confidence will go up.”

“We had to compete with Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen because we were almost the same age but also through so much hard training, we are trying to get to that level,” said Du Yue.

On the brief flurry of controversy on the other side of the net in the second game, Du Yue said, “Based on the rules, our serves were not wrong.  In situations like that, we just have to control our own emotions when we are on the court.”

Two years ago, Du’s women’s doubles partner was paired up with the great Zhang Nan and the two instantly had a rash of impressive results, including reaching the final of the 2016 China Open.  However, it was Du who combined with He to take a first Super 500 title while Li is still waiting for her next chance.

The two will now go home for a short break from international competition, after which they will return for the Denmark Open, where He Jiting in particular will have a tough start.  He will face the All England champions in the first round in both men’s and mixed doubles.

Final results
MS:  Chou Tien Chen [4] beat Tommy Sugiarto (INA) [8]  21-13, 21-16
WS:  Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) [3] beat Zhang Beiwen (USA) [6]  21-10, 17-21, 21-16
MD:  Hiroyuki Endo / Yuta Watanabe (JPN) [8] beat Takuro Hoki / Yugo Kobayashi (JPN)  9-21, 21-15, 21-10
WD:  Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) [2] beat Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota (JPN) [1]  21-11, 21-18
XD:  Mathias Christiansen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) [2] vs. He Jiting / Du Yue (CHN) [5]  21-18, 21-16

Click here for complete 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