U.S. OPEN Finals – Lin the first teen to win since Lin

Lin Chun Yi became the first teenager to win the men’s singles title in a badminton event with 6-figure prize money since Lin Dan did it back in 2003. By […]

Lin Chun Yi became the first teenager to win the men’s singles title in a badminton event with 6-figure prize money since Lin Dan did it back in 2003.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Teenagers are starting to stake their claim, even in men’s singles badminton.  Lin Chun Yi (pictured top) of Chinese Taipei is actually the 3rd teenager this year to win a major men’s singles title, something that was accomplished only 3 times between 2003 and the end of last year.

Late September 2003 was the last title as a teenager for the great Lin Dan.  His victory at the Denmark Open that year was in a $170,000 5-star event, the second tier among the open tournaments, and hence it attracted the very best of badminton.  This year’s offered almost as much in total prize money but on today’s tour, this is less than a tenth of the total purse at badminton’s most lucrative event and there are now 3 tiers of open tournaments above events like this in Fullerton, California.

Nonetheless, the most impressive podium any teenaged boy has ascended in men’s singles since Lin Dan won in Aarhus nearly 16 years ago is at a Grand Prix tournament (Chen Yuekun in 2010, Wang Tzu Wei in 2014, and Anders Antonsen in 2016) or Super 100, which has already happened twice this year (Li Shifeng in Canada and Weng Hongyang at the Lingshui China Masters).

The final was rather one-sided.  Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (pictured above), who had not even been in a major semi-final since he himself won the Denmark Open 3 years ago, just could not find the consistency that had seen him through to Sunday against very stiff competition.  Lin was full of confidence after coming through qualifying and then beating Canada Open champion Li Shifeng and defending champion Lee Dong Keun on consecutive days.

Wang the second teen to take debut title

China’s Wang Zhiyi (pictured left) also won her first major title on Sunday in California.  The 19-year-old did one better than her runner-up finish in Calgary a week earlier.  She had been the first casualty of opponent Kim Ga Eun on the Korean’s run to her own first major title, in Lingshui this past spring.  But this time, the Chinese youngster had the edge and she opened up a big lead in the first game and another one midway through the second, forcing Kim to play catch-up virtually throughout the match.

The mixed doubles, too, saw some first time winners.  France’s Thom Gicquel / Delphine Delrue may have been gunning for their first Super 300 title, having won their inaugural Super 100 title at home earlier this year but their opponents had only just reached a semi-final last week and were in the final in only their 5th tournament together.

Lee Jhe Huei, of course, has tasted big success in men’s doubles, with a Superseries title and an Asian Games bronze medal to his name.  Hsu Ya Ching (pictured right) is also better known for level doubles but her biggest result to date was still at last year’s Hong Kong Open, when she reached the semi-finals in mixed doubles with her former partner.

The Chinese Taipei pair were just too much for the French duo on Sunday, though.  The Europeans played an excellent match but Lee and Hsu managed to stay a few steps ahead in both games.

The only top seeds to survive until the final round, Nami Matsuyama / Chiharu Shida of Japan actually had to reverse a result from last week.  In Canada, they suffered an upset at the hands of the brand-new Korean pairing of Baek Ha Na and Jung Kyung Eun (pictured left)

This time, the Japanese pair played solid defense and seemed to have both the penetration and the variety to make their attacking opportunities count in a way the Koreans couldn’t.  Down by 9 points midway through the second game, the Koreans regrouped to make the score more respectable but just when it looked like they might be closing in in the clutch, Baek served into the net to bring up match points for the top seeds, who closed it out on the second opportunity.

Ko goes 1 for 2 for the 4th time

Ko Sung Hyun (pictured right) took the U.S. Open men’s doubles title for the second time in his career.  The first was in 2011, his first ever appearance with Lee Yong Dae, a year before they were paired up permanently.  On Sunday, he won his second straight Super 300 title with Shin Baek Cheol.

Unfortunately for their opponents, Wang Chi Lin (pictured below) had to retire with a lower back injury shortly after the beginning of the deciding game.  Wang and Lee Yang, who have 3 titles already in their short partnership, which began this year, had beaten Ko and Shin’s former partners in a thrilling semi-final on Saturday that lasted 87 minutes.  Then they fought hard to come back from 11-13 down in the second game and force the decider but Wang couldn’t see it through to the end.

For Ko Sung Hyun, this was his 12th tournament since returning to the international scene last summer and he was playing in his 8th final.  In 4 of those tournaments, he has played both men’s doubles with Shin and mixed with Eom Hye Won and on each occasion, he has left with a title in one of his two disciplines.

Ko and Shin are taking the next week off and then plan to play the Super 750 and 500 events in Japan and Thailand.  Eom Hye Won is entered in the two big events but she and Ko are way down on the reserve list and the Canada Open champions will likely not appear on court again until the Akita Masters, where they will likely be the top seeds.

Ko and Shin are already one of only two Korean pairs ranked high enough to get into the main draw at the biggest open tournaments.  With the U.S. Open victory, they should move very close but still barely outside of the world’s top 20.  They were invited to the World Championships this summer but that invitation was rejected.

In fact, Lee Yang and Wang Chi Lin are the only U.S. Open finalists who are scheduled to play in the Indonesia Super 1000 this week, but the distance, as well as Wang’s retirement in Sunday, places that in serious doubt.  The mixed doubles champions are also entered for Jakarta but are unlikely to make it off the reserve list.

Final results
XD:  Lee Jhe Huei / Hsu Ya Ching (TPE) beat Thom Gicquel / Delphine Delrue (FRA) [4]   21-17, 21-17
WS:  Wang Zhiyi (CHN) beat Kim Ga Eun (KOR) [3]  21-18, 21-19
MS:  Lin Chun Yi (TPE) beat Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (THA)  21-10, 21-13
WD:  Nami Matsuyama / Chiharu Shida (JPN) [1] Baek Ha Na / Jung Kyung Eun [5]  21-16, 21-16
MD:  Ko Sung Hyun / Shin Baek Cheol (KOR) [6] beat Lee Yang / Wang Chi Lin (TPE) [2]   21-13, 17-21, 6-3 [Retired]

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