KOREA OPEN 2018 SF – Quartet of 1st-time finalists start things off

Semi-finals day at the Korea Open began with both Hoki/Kobayashi and He/Du booking finals berths at Super 500 level for the first time in their career. By Don Hearn, Badzine […]

Semi-finals day at the began with both Hoki/Kobayashi and He/Du booking finals berths at level for the first time in their career.

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

The result of the first semi-final on Saturday at the 2018 Korea Open may have been disappointment for Korea but it was elation in Korea for Japan’s Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi (pictured).  A day after dismissing ex-retirees Kim Gi Jung and Lee Yong Dae, they dominated one of Korea’s most promising pairs of the future, Choi Sol Gyu and Seo Seung Jae (pictured above).

The crowd slowly grew over the course of the first two matches on Saturday at Seoul’s SK Handball Gymnasium, despite the ‘competition’ from this evening’s concert, a few hundred metres away, by Gangnam-style performer Psy.  But Hoki and Kobayashi turned much of the exuberance of the crowd into moans of disappointment as they continually turned their defensive situations into attacking opportunities against less experienced Koreans.

It was over in little more than half an hour and Seoul went from being the site of the Japanese players’ first ever semi-final to that of their first ever Super 500 final.

“This feels like a lucky place for us,” said Yugo Kobayashi.  “It almost feels like we are playing at home in Japan.  The court conditions suit us and we like the food.

“We’ve been playing against Choi Sol Gyu for many years, since junior days, so we know how he plays.  Most recently, we faced him in the Asian Team Championships and lost quite badly so we really wanted to win this one today.”

Takuro Hoki added, “We thought that Seo Seung Jae is a very good player but with him playing in mixed doubles also, right up to today, we thought he might be a little tired for today’s match.”

Thailand’s Dechapol Puavaranukroh / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (pictured right) have also done okay in Korea in the past.  Their second Grand Prix Gold final was in Jeju at the 2016 Korea Masters.  But the world # pair could not keep it togetehr against China’s He Jiting / Du Yue (pictured above).

Despite flashes of brilliance from the Thais, the 2016 World Junior Champions took the match in straight games and will contest the final on Sunday.  Like the Japanese in men’s doubles, this will be the 20-year-olds’ first Sunday appearance at the Super 500 level or above.

While the Japanese pair faces the possibility of meeting their compatriots on Sunday, He and Du will await the outcome of the other semi-final between India Open winners Christiansen/Pedersen and home favourites Chae Yoo Jung and Seo Seung Jae, who will be playing in his second semi-final of the day against the Danes.

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