The Chinese camp seem to be having an early CNY celebration, having secured 2 all-Chinese finals and finalists in 2 more disciplines. However, Korea still has two title shots, while Boe/Mogensen and Lee Chong Wei are looking to repeat past January successes in Seoul.
By Kira Rin, Badzine Correspondent. Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)
Women’s doubles – Signs of a Snake Year
Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang had an easy path to the finals, beating Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na in 2 games. Since the upcoming Chinese Year is the Year of the Snake, this could bode well for Wang Xiaoli who was born under the sign.
This was obviously the two pairs’ first meeting since the debacle at the London Olympics, after which both were disqualified. The Koreans are still officially under suspension from the national team and therefore competing representing their Korea professional teams. As the Korean Olympic Committee has yet to lift the suspension as petitioned by the Badminton Korea Association, Jung and Kim have been withdrawn from next week’s Malaysia Open.
Ma Jin and Tang Jinhua (pictured) had a much harder track than their compatriots, taking an hour and 11 minutes, and 3 hard games to overcome 2nd seeds Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl, and booking a first of two finals tickets for Ma Jin.
Men’s doubles – Homeground advantage?
Rising up the rankings without rest, the next stop for Ko Sung Hyun and Lee Yong Dae (pictured), the world’s newest top ten pair, was the familiar pair of Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong, with whom they had shared countless moments together on the international stage. However, this being their homeground, and being surrounded by countless fans, Ko Sung Hyun and Lee Yong Dae just couldn’t disappoint them, especially, a group of girls waving yellow banners bearing their names. Attacking fast and furiously, they wrapped up their place in the finals within 2 games.
Danes Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen had a tough fight to avenge their previous Korea Open defeat at the hands of current 3rd seeds Hong Wei and Shen Ye. It was just last year, that Hong and Shen, then unseeded, upset two-time finalists Boe and Mogensen. This time, the Danes proved that they still had the ability to remain top in their class and they are now headed for a repeat of the China Open final.
“We are really happy to be in another final here in Seoul,” wrote the Danes on their Facebook page. “Tomorrow we will play Lee/Ko of Korea. It’s always fun to play Yong Dae so we are really looking forward to it. Think we will have the crowd against us tomorrow. ”
Women’s singles – Sung is back to challenge Wang
Local favourite Sung Ji Hyun (pictured) is back in a Superseries final for the first time since 2010, when she came up short at home against Wang Shixian, who is now the two-time defending champion and is again the one standing in Sung’s way.
Wang had a hard fight to book a place into the finals, enjoying a comfortable 1st game against Mitani Minatsu before fighting tooth and nail in the 2nd game, where the lead exchanged many times. The offensive Wang faced off against the defensive Mitani, with both determined to spare no quarter, even to the point of exhaustion. At the end of the second game, Wang was able to take 4 crucial points to win the match.
Much to the delight of her fans in the stadium, Sung Ji Hyun took her place in the finals with a two-game victory over Han Li of China, ending the match with exactly the same points and difference in the second game as the match earlier.
Men’s singles – New Year’s rematch
Yet another defending champion, Lee Chong Wei disposed of Wong Wing Ki (pictured) of Hong Kong in two quick games, clocking in at 34 minutes. He will face off in the final against Du Pengyu, who got the better of the world #1 in their last encounter, at last month’s Superseries Finals.
Du Pengyu had a harder time getting in, having to endure long rallies and fending off attacks from Indonesia’s Sony Dwi Kuncoro. Sony just couldn’t find the touch today, committing many unforced errors, despite establishing good attacking opportunities and maintaining the fast pace.
Mixed doubles – 2 contenders for double crown, but only one may pass
At a little over the half hour mark, Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei (pictured below) saw off Joachim Fischer and Christinna Pedersen in the quickest match at 31 minutes. In what was probably the most one sided contest of the afternoon, the Chinese pair played almost perfect badminton in the second game, conceding only 3 points before sealing the match.
Just like Christinna, Ma Jin had the luxury of having her first and second matches at the very beginning of the day and at the very end, giving plenty of rest in between. It paid off for Ma, though, as she and Xu Chen, faced Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam, a pair they had just played, almost exactly a month ago at the Superseries Finals. With the encounter fresh in their minds, it took much less time for the defending champions to breeze through to another Korea Open final, in 40 minutes compared to their time of 1 hour 4 minutes in the Superseries Finals.
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