KOREA OPEN 2018 R16 – European Champs ousted

Two two-time European Champions had their sights on the Korea Open quarter-finals but Chae Yoo Jung and Seo Seung Jae saw off Chris and Gabby Adcock before Viktor Axelsen suffered […]

Two two-time European Champions had their sights on the quarter-finals but Chae Yoo Jung and Seo Seung Jae saw off Chris and Gabby Adcock before Viktor Axelsen suffered his own upset.

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

Mixed doubles once again took centre stage early in the day on Thursday at the Korea Open.  With the nation having returned to work and School after their five-day weekend, the hall was a little quieter than for the first round matches but their was still some vocal support as all but one mixed match featured seeded pairs and half were contested by keen but inexperienced Korean pairs.

The favourites had their way for the most part, the first exception being the loss of 6th seeds Wang/Lee in an all-Taiwan affair.  Thailand’s Dechapol Puavaranukroh / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (pictured below) had to save a match point before winning their decider 23-21 against Japan’s Yuki Kaneko / Misaki Matsutomo.

The big upset came near the end of the mixed round as Chris and Gabby Adcock faced Australian Open winners Seo Seung Jae / Chae Yoo Jung (pictured top).  The English pair looked very strong in the bottom half of the first game, building up a 19-14 lead by repeatedly forcing the Koreans to lift to easy kill opportunities.

The Koreans had plenty of loud cheering, though, and they soon turned things around and eventually saved five game points and pulled it out in extra points.  The second game was all theirs, though, and in 40 minutes, they had claimed Korea’s only spot in the mixed doubles quarter-finals.

“In this match, I wasn’t trying to penetrate with my own attacks,” Chae said afterward.  “I was just concentrating on my speed around the frontcourt.  Early in the first game, we were nervous and we ended up just lifting the shuttle too much and soon we were losing.  We just tried to relax and calm down and we focussed on moving faster and that allowed us to turn the rallies around and get on the attack.”

“This was a seeded team so we knew it was going to be a tough match, even though we hadn’t played them before,” said Seo Seung Jae.  “We played the way we had planned to, and we ended up with a good result.”

“We didn’t go in there thinking we were definitely going to win,” added Chae Yoo Jung, “but with my new partner Seung Jae, we knew it might be tough for many pairs to face us, as we now have two lefthanders.”

“I think a lot of pairs have trouble adapting to a pair of left-handed players,” said Seo.  “That can especially give us an advantage the first time we play a new pair.”

“On the other hand, shuttles coming to our left side makes that clearly the strong side but it can mean that the opposite side is a weak spot for both of us,” added Chae.

“At 21-all, it was when I did a drive serve that our opponents were complaining asking if it wasn’t a fault,” said Seo Seung Jae.  “These days, with the change in the service rules, I don’t think it is such a bad thing.  We are able to use service techniques that we didn’t use before and I don’t see that as causing us disadvantages.”

“You mean because we won?” interjected Chae Yoo Jung with a giggle.

On the prospect of facing the All England champions in the quarter-finals, Chae said, “This will again be the first time playing them with my new partner and although we know it’s going to be tough, we hope to make it a good first match against them.”

Victory over Viktor

Men’s singles may have started off almost upset-free but the glaring exception would be the ouster of former world #1 Viktor Axelsen.  Axelsen, who lost the top spot today to Kento Momota, had an impressive comeback in the first game after a slow start but Zhao Junpeng (pictured) of China eked out the 27-25 win and then dominated the second game.

It will thus be Zhao who will take on Asian Games gold medallist Jonatan Christie in the quarter-finals.  Christie’s fellow 2017 Korea Open finalist and compatriot Anthony Ginting also advanced, beating Wang Tzu Wei, so along with Tommy Sugiarto, there will be thee Indonesians in action on Friday in Seoul.

Click here for complete Thursday 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