Uber Cup 2010 Semifinals – It’s a Korean JUNGle out there!

On paper, the Japanese ladies have the experience in the singles department and the superior ranking in the doubles. Korea had to thus bank on their seasoned doubles players – […]

On paper, the Japanese ladies have the experience in the singles department and the superior ranking in the doubles. Korea had to thus bank on their seasoned doubles players – Lee Hyo Jung, Kim Min Jung, Ha Jung Eun and Lee Kyung Won – to create a miracle in their semi-final battle Japan. And they did, as Korea has stormed into the 2010 Uber Cup final with a 3-1 win.

By Jan Lin and Ooi Ee Lyn, reporting live from Kuala Lumpur. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Spearheading the Korean team at the 2010 Uber Cup Finals is world number 16 Bae Seung Hee, who is playing in her first Uber Cup finals. Managing a 21-12, 21-16 victory over Japan’s Eriko Hirose, Bae’s aggressive play gave her absolute control of the match. Still, Japan was not quite counting on Hirose, who has been hindered by injury, to deliver a point.

With a 50-50 fighting chance for both teams in the remaining four matches, Korea’s scratch pair Lee Hyo Jung / Kim Min Jung (pictured left) capitalised on their team’s flying start to stun Japan’s world number 5 pair Satoko Suetsuna / Miyuki Maeda in straight games 21-19, 21-10. The two ‘Jung’s were spot on in their tactics and executed them flawlessly.

“It doesn’t matter that we have a higher world ranking than the Koreans. They are better,” said a disappointed Suetsena after failing to square things up for her team.

“Our game in the quarter-final yesterday was horrible,” said Korea’s Kim Min Jung. “There was pressure to play the first doubles today, but Hyo Jung played an amazing game especially towards the end when we had to finish up.”

Lee Hyo Jung added: “Before arriving at the Uber Cup finals, we only targeted to enter the semi-finals. Then when we reached the semi-finals, we had a new goal, which is to get into the finals and play our best.”

Unrattled by the 0-2 deficit, Japan’s 25-year-old Ai Goto (pictured right) rose to the occasion and kept her team’s hopes alive with a convincing 21-10, 22-20 victory over 19-year-old Bae Youn Joo.

And once again, Japan’s world number 6 pair Mizuki Fujii / Reika Kakiiwa should logically have an upper hand over Korea’s world number 11 pair Ha Jung Eun / Lee Kyung Won in the second doubles match. But the Koreans were clearly hungrier for victory with Ha pulling off a spectacular offensive game and veteran Lee was rock solid holding the defensive fort.

The 30-year-old Lee Kyung Won (pictured below) showed that age is often just an overstated number as she broke out into acrobatic celebratory movements – which stunned even her own team-mates – after securing Korea’s ticket to the nation’s 6th Uber Cup final appearance.

While Japan’s head coach Park Joo Bong nursed his admitted “heartbreak”, Korea’s head coach Kim Joong Soo was a very happy man.

“Today’s game wasn’t easy but it was smooth,” said Kim Joong Soo. “Our youngsters have been coming up since last year and we were hopeful about that. [However] Bae Youn Joo has had a fever since we arrived in Malaysia, and Sung Ji Hyun was having problems with her shoulder injury.”

Korea will play the winner of China and Indonesia in the final on Saturday.

“If we play China, we’ll have a chance if our singles play well enough,” Kim said on a concluding note, “but if it’s Indonesia, our levels are pretty even but they’ll be more confident as they defeated us during the Uber Cup qualifications in Thailand.”

Korea 3 – 1 Japan

Bae Seung Hee bt Eriko Hirose 21-12, 21-16
Lee Hyo Jung / Kim Min Jung bt Satoko Suetsuna / Miyuki Maeda 21-19, 21-10
Bae Youn Joo lost to Ai Goto 12-21, 20-22
Lee Kyung Won / Ha Jung Eun bt Mizuki Fujii / Reika Kakiiwa 21-14, 21-18

Badzine is reporting ‘live’ at the 2010 Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Kuala Lumpur! Check back for our daily news updates and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. To enjoy our live PHOTO GALLERY, CLICK HERE.

About Ee-Lyn Ooi