KOREA OPEN 2011 Finals – 3 more for China

China’s Lin Dan took his third title while Zhao Yunlei and Wang Yihan renewed their own success on the peninsula at the 2011 Victor Korea Open Premier Super Series. By […]

China’s Lin Dan took his third title while Zhao Yunlei and Wang Yihan renewed their own success on the peninsula at the 2011 Victor Premier Super Series.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Seoul.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto

It was a very long finals day on Sunday at the 2011 Victor Korea Open Premier Super Series.  The organizers had managed to get one of Korea’s numerous,  girl groups to provide an intermission to the badminton action with a performance after the women’s singles final.  As it turned out, those cutesy voices were heard far more than the six Chinese winners put together as floor interviews and press conferences were performed for the winning Korean doubles pair only.  But the Chinese aces did plenty of talking with their racquets.

Wang vs. Wang: the battle for #1

The crowd was noticeably subdued after the euphoria of the men’s doubles win (see related article here), complete with the sight of superstar Lee Yong Dae baring his torso.  Wang Yihan (pictured), who first won an international title in Korea the same day Lee Yong Dae did, had a very different importance attached to her victory as this was the first time since the 2009 Hong Kong Open that she had won a tournament with all of her strongest compatriots present.

Yihan pulled off a straight-game win over Wang Shixian, who had beaten her in Kuala Lumpur the week earlier and who just two weeks ago took over the women’s singles world #1 spot, which had belonged to Wang Yihan for most of last year.

This is a potentially crucial accomplishment with Olympic qualifying coming up and after Wang was left off the Asian Games squad, her inclusion on the Chinese team for the upcoming Sudirman Cup may well depend on performances such as this one.

Zhao continues her streak

In the mixed doubles final, women’s doubles partners Zhao Yunlei and Tian Qing went toe to toe to decide which of them would leave Seoul with nothing but silver after, together, they were denied gold in the women’s final (see related article here).

In the end, it was not only Tian but also Tao – mixed runner-up in 2010 as well – who left wearing only silver.  Zhao Yunlei, meanwhile, kept her streak alive, never leaving Korea without a title.  She won the girls’ doubles title at the 2004 Asian Junior Championships in Hwacheon, then women’s doubles last year at the Korea Open.

Zhang and Zhao were trailing early in each of the first two games but were able to come from behind in the first of these.  In the third however, they led throughout, left Tao/Tian to play catchup, and remained the more consistent, finally pulling out the 21-19 victory in the third.

“This win was very difficult, especially after losing the women’s doubles,” said Zhao Yunlei after the match. “We know each other’s games so well so we know how difficult it is to beat them.  I am very happy to have won right before the Chinese New Year.  I plan to go back to Hubei to spend the holidays with my parents.”

While Zhang insisted he had not thought of how he might spend his share of the nearly US$95,000,  Zhao claimed she would be using some of it to go shopping for clothes, but that she wasn’t eager to stay and spend it in fridgid Seoul.

Lin takes the money and runs

Not even the girl group’s grinning and gyrating could prevent the crowd from dwindling to less than half its size by the time the two masters of the men’s singles game took to the court.

For the first time in the week, there was a small, vocal Malaysian cheering section that gave Lee Chong Wei a needed boost in the second game and the entire crowd that had waited until well into the evening was, of course, treated to a display of textbook singles artistry.

Lin and Lee traded tight, spinning net tumbles, deft hold-and-flick net crosses and lifts, and lightning-quick pounces on almost every shuttle that didn’t brush the tape.  Both players were moving quickly and confidently and there was virtually nothing but the final scoreline to indicate that Lin Dan held the upper hand over his rival on the day.

After the match, Lin Dan said…nothing, except for a few words to CCTV, before running – literally – to catch the bus, where his team-mates and coaches were all already waiting.  Not that there was any more than a tiny handful of journalists waiting to interview.  The incredible field made it Premier.  The prize money and the exquisite action on court made it Super, but as a media event, this was just any old Korea Open.

For complete results from the 2011 Victor Korea Open Premier Super Series, CLICK HERE

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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