KOREA MASTERS 2019 QF – Korea finishes strong

2017 Korea Masters champion Kim Won Ho is in his first semi-final with new partner Park Kyung Hoon after they saw off Olympic and World Champion Zhang Nan in his […]

2017 champion Kim Won Ho is in his first semi-final with new partner Park Kyung Hoon after they saw off Olympic and World Champion Zhang Nan in his own new partnership.

Story and photos by Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Gwangju

The day did not start off well for the home team in Gwangju.  Korean shuttlers lost their first four matches, in fact their first six, but the run was interrupted by the necessary wins in two all-Korean women’s singles quarter-finals.

The first loss came in mixed doubles, as 2018 runners-up Choi Sol Gyu and Shin Seung Chan went down to Lee Jhe Huei and Hsu Ya Ching (pictured below) of Chinese Taipei.  More surprising, however, was the upset of world #7 Seo Seung Jae / Chae Yoo Jung by Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai of Malaysia.

Kim Won Ho started off 2018 in impressive form, reaching the Spain Masters final and the Badminton Asia Championship semi-final with two different, long-time partners.  But then his pairings with both Kang Min Hyuk and Seo Seung Jae were split and he was put together with Park Kyung Hoon  Park and Kim had a couple of good results, at the International Challenges in Osaka and Mongolia, but they’ve struggled both to win matches and to make it past the reserve list at the year’s bigger tournaments.

On Friday in Gwangju, however, the two were on form and shut down Chinese veterans Zhang Nan and Ou Xianyi in straight games.

“I’ve never been this far in a event before but now that I’ve reached a semi-final, I’m not going to be satisfied with that,” said Park Kyung Hoon after the match.  “We want to reach the final and try to win.”

“I know that people expected great things from me,” said Kim Won Ho, “and the fact that I have had trouble delivering has been on my mind as I train and as I compete.  So I’ve been training hard day in and day out to produce better results and because I’ve kept that attitude, I think it will pay off.

“Whoever the opponent is, we’re always keen to bring what we’ve got and hope for the win.  I think given that I’ve won here before, it makes me happy to play here.  We play Lee and Wang tomorrow.  Now we’re feeling greedy.  We really want this next win and will try hard to pull off the upset.”

Fresh off their win at the Hong Kong Open, defending champions Choi Sol Gyu and Seo Seung Jae (pictured above) found the winning formula against He Jiting and Tan Qiang.

In fact, Friday finished with no wins for Chinese pairs in any discipline.  This may be especially disappointing for the two Koreans who recently joined the Chinese coaching staff.  Two-time Olympic silver medallist Yoo Yong Sung was courtside to assist both He/Tan and two-time World Junior Champions Wang Chang (pictured below) and Di Zijian, while former Korean head coach Kang Kyung Jin was on hand to coach Liu/Xia but the world #17 fell to Hsu/Hu of Chinese Taipei.

2017 women’s doubles winners Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan (pictured above) again beat Bulgaria’s Stoeva sisters.  The Europeans were incensed late in the second game, when they insisted their opponents had scooped the shutller after it had hit the floor.

Korea looked to have a chance to dominate the semi-final round in women’s doubles but the Japanese team was having none of that.  Olympic gold medallists Matsutomo / Takahashi bounced back effectively from a first-game drubbing by Baek Ha Na and Jung Kyung Eun and took that match in three.  Meanwhile, Nami Matsuyama / Chiharu Shida (pictured below) took their first game convincingly, against Chang Ye Na / Kim Hye Rin, but they fought back from 10-19 down in the second but just couldn’t put it away in two and had to settle for a one-sided win in the decider.

Kim Dong Hoon was not only Korea’s only remaining men’s singles player at the quarter-final stage.  He was also the only Korean singles player who was up against a visiting athlete.  He played an impressive opening game against Kanta Tsuneyama (pictured above) but couldn’t keep the momentum, even after erasing a 12-19 deficit in the second game.

In women’s singles, Gwangju native An Se Young (pictured below) got the better of compatriot Sim Yu Jin, while Sung Ji Hyun beat Kim Ga Eun.  Both Koreans have to play tough Japanese opponents in the semi-finals, as Akane Yamaguchi and Saena Kawakami both advanced.

Click here for complete quarter-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