CHINESE TAIPEI OPEN Finals – Goh/Tan win with epic comeback

Seo Seung Jae was beaten twice on finals day at the Chinese Taipei Open, as he and Choi Sol Gyu squandered a 9-point lead and 5 match points before Goh […]

Seo Seung Jae was beaten twice on finals day at the , as he and Choi Sol Gyu squandered a 9-point lead and 5 match points before Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong took the title.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Sunday in Taipei certainly had its share of one-sided finals.  But the fans who stayed after the appearance by home favourite Chou Tien Chen were treated to an amazing comeback by former world #1s Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong.

If you didn’t know any better, you might think that Korea’s Choi Sol Gyu and Seo Seung Jae thrive on pressure.  Twice in the World Championships and then twice again this week in Taipei, the Koreans were not content to win their games by a margin but rather showed their best form when facing game point or at least when pushed into extra points by their opponents.

That didn’t work for them in their first game against Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong (pictured top) today as the Koreans saved just one game point before having to concede the game and begin playing catch-up.  They did manage to win by a safe margin from the opposite end and they took a commanding lead that made it look like the decider would be a formality.

The Koreans were getting the attack and finishing off the rallies at the net in a way that eluded them in the opener.  It was clear sailing until they ended up with a 17-8 and looked to be on the home stretch.

Then everything changed.  It wasn’t that they had easy chances that they ended up flubbing, as sometimes happens when players near the finish line.  Rather, it was more that the Malaysians just suddenly started playing like a dominant, more experienced pair, which of course, they are.

The Koreans, meanwhile, became very tentative, making very nervous mistakes on defense and had totally lost control of the rallies.  To say nothing of the game!  The underdogs managed to inch ahead to earn 4 match points but then the Malaysian march resumed and it didn’t end until they’d won 23-21 and left Choi and Seo stunned at how they’d let the opportunity elude them.

The deciding game of the women’s doubles also featured an amazing scoreline but that was a totally different contest.  Jongkolphan Kititharakul / Rawinda Prajongjai (pictured left) were neck-and-neck with Kim So Yeong / Kong Hee Yong throughout their third game and neither pair led by more than 2 points from start to finish.

There was even symmetry in the match points as each pair had four, losing one at a time until the Thais won on their fourth attempt.  It was their first title since the won the very first title in the new , at the 2018 Thailand Masters.

Korea loses 4, but Sung wins her 4th

Korea, of course, had come to the Taipei Arena with a finalist in each of the five disciplines.  They may have been hoping for a sweep but with the imposing figure of Chou Tien Chen in the men’s singles final against Heo Kwang Hee (pictured right), it was more dream than hope.

Indeed, Chou performed as expected. Heo showed some flashes of brilliance but just as often, he made high quality shots and lacked the speed, mobility, or foresight to run down the high-quality returned from his world #2 opponent.

The day had got off to a dismal start for Korea.  Seo Seung Jae had won the mixed title here back in 2017, the same day his partner Chae Yoo Jung won the women’s doubles title.  They were slim favourites to take the title together today but Hong Kong’s Tang Chun Man / Tse Ying Suet (pictured bottom) were having none of that.

After winning the opening game narrowly, Tang and Tse ran roughshod over the Korean game plan in the second game.  Tang leapt high and rained down steep smashes and drops and the Koreans were repeatedly forced to block high into Tse’s waiting racquet at the net and the 2nd seeds never looked capable of turning the match around in their favour.

The second match of the day was the only glimmer of success for the Korean side.  Sung Ji Hyun (pictured left) – seeded 4th like 3 other winners on the day – added a 4th Chinese Taipei Open title to her collection.  She last won here in 2014 but this year she was just too good for Canada’s Michelle Li.

In fact, this tournament was the site of Sung’s first ever major title, way back in 2011.  The former world #2 will likely be hoping this one is the beginning of a new and better run of form.  It was her first final since the 2017 Indonesia Open and now it is her first title since the 2016 Korea Masters.

Most of the finalists will be taking the week off before the China Open.  For Koreans, next week is Chuseok, their autumn harvest festival and the biggest family holiday of the year.  Heo, Choi, and Seo are among the few Koreans slated to give up their holiday to play the Vietnam Open but a late withdrawal by a player who has just finished playing a final is certainly not unheard-of in international badminton.

Final results
XD:  Tang Chun Man / Tse Ying Suet (HKG) [4] beat Seo Seung Jae / Chae Yoo Jung (KOR) [2]  21-18, 21-10
WS:  Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) [4] beat Michelle Li (CAN) [2]  21-11, 21-9
WD:  Jongkolphan Kititharakul / Rawinda Prajongjai (THA) [4] beat Kim So Yeong / Kong Hee Yong (KOR) [3]  21-19, 18-21, 28-26
MS:  Chou Tien Chen (TPE) [1] beat Heo Kwang Hee (KOR)  21-12, 21-13
MD:  Goh V Shem / Tan Wee Kiong (MAS) [4] beat Choi Sol Gyu / Seo Seung Jae (KOR)  21-19, 15-21, 23-21

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