KOREA OPEN 2011 SF – Slow start for Korea

Things went all China’s way early on semi-finals day at the 2011 Victor Korea Open Premier Super Series as they reserved on all-Chinese final and look set to deliver a […]

Things went all China’s way early on semi-finals day at the 2011 Victor Premier Super Series as they reserved on all-Chinese final and look set to deliver a second as Sung Ji Hyun (pictured) was denied a second consecutive finals appearance.

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

The weekend crowds slowly started to accumulate during the first mixed doubles matches.  Ko Sung Hyun and Ha Jung Eun gave them plenty to cheer about in the first game, displaying power, precision, and pressure on their opponents.  However, the groans of disappointment were slightly in the ascendancy in the opener as the Chinese pulled it out 21-18 at the end.

The biggest disappointment was saved for the end of the second, however, when Ha Jung Eun (pictured below right) served short to set the Chinese up with 3 match points.   The resulting 21-18, 21-17 victory by Tao Jiaming / Tian Qing (pictured below left) earned the new Chinese pair a third encounter – after the Japan and China Open finals – against the winners of the truly forgotten match of the early afternoon in Seoul, Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei, who were winners over the new pairing of  Ma/Xu.

Sung Ji Hyun then had the difficult task of winning over the crowd’s attention to her contest, which was just beginning in the adjacent court in the moment of depression following the home team’s mixed doubles loss, but this was no easy task for the nineteen-year-old.  Not only was she facing world #2 Wang Yihan for the first time, but the Korean spectators had already made it clear who they were there to see.

As Wang Yihan was taking an 8-3 lead, Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung came striding into the hall, hurling souvenirs into the stands, which were all arranged with their TV court as the focus.  Add to that, the proven crowd-pleasing spectacle of men’s doubles next to the patient style typical of women’s singles and Sung’s struggle silently slipped into obscurity.

Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung were making a loud noticeable comeback in their first game, to 12-13 while Sung Ji Hyun had quietly bounced back from her 8-21 whitewash in the first game, to lead Wang Yihan 11-2 at the second game interval, thus becoming the first Korean player to hold a commanding lead.

Another thrilling rally with plenty of net play, which put Sung up 15-7, went largely unnoticed by the crowd as Jung and Lee were simultaneously slingshotting into a lead in their game and taking their first game point at 20-19.

A smash off the serve went right to the floor to give Sung her first game point, stopped Wang’s four-point run short, and also finally caught the attention of the crowd, who were set for an eruption once Sung closed out the game with a drop winner to that same spot in Wang’s front forehand corner.

Sung Ji Hyun made a promising rally late in the third but came up short when a Wang smash was called in on the sideline.  Sung was upset at the call as she had been at another on the same line.  The same line judge had made two ‘in’ calls in her favour before the end change but both were corrected by the umpire.

Her dream of a second consecutive final ended, Sung Ji Hyun left the court, not without shedding some tears, but the crowd’s attention was already on the action in the adjacent court, leaving Sung to be consoled backstage by her coaches and teammates and, soon afterward, by her mother, also her university team coach.

For complete semi-final 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