SUDIRMAN CUP 2011 SF – Korea shut down but not shut out

There was no clean sheet for China but they took another giant step toward their fourth Sudirman Cup victory as Lin Dan and Wang Shixian dominated Korea’s singles challengers. By […]

There was no clean sheet for China but they took another giant step toward their fourth victory as Lin Dan and Wang Shixian dominated Korea’s singles challengers.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Korea comes into nearly every team competition as the most credible threat to Chinese dominance.  Especially in the Sudirman Cup, they are the only nation to have lifted the trophy in the last two decades and they normally have at least an outside chance in all five disciplines.  But China still has every reason to come up against China brimming with confidence and that is exactly what they did today in Qingdao.

In mixed doubles, Korea fielded Ko Sung Hyun with Ha Jung Eun.  Ko had been successful all week and this line-up allowed Lee Yong Dae, whose elbow has been covered in therapeutic tape for every match, to concentrate on men’s doubles.  However, their opponents were to be Xu Chen and Ma Chin (pictured right), who had defeated the Koreans rather easily earlier this year en route to the All England title.

Ko and Ha played catch-up for most of the first game but surged at just the right time to take it 23-21.  Xu and Ma roared back to take the second handily but trailed throughout the deciding game by as many as five points.  The Chinese pair stayed in it, though, and were helped in this effort by Ha Jung Eun’s refusal to serve short.  In addition, though, Xu continued to capitalize on every attacking opportunity and the home team had the last laugh, winning it 24-22.

Early in the second match, Park Sung Hwan did a good job of making us forget the unlikelihood that his first victory of this tournament could come against the great Lin Dan (pictured).  However, at the same time, Lin Dan did not look the least bit worried as he calmly slipped to a 10-15 deficit in the first game.

Sure enough, Lin was able to put together a string of 7 straight points to take the first, almost as many as Park got in the entire second game.  Despite his collection of wins against the Chinese legend, Park never appeared in control of the match and was the one scrambling to return the shots even when leading.

Lin Dan did nothing but wow both the crowd and his opponent with his speed and accuracy.  Park did manage to save two match points but Lin was not even close to giving up his first match against Park in team competition and took it home 21-16, 21-10.

The crowd would have loved Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng to finish the tie in what, action-wise, had to be the main event, pitting the three-time World Champions against Korea’s Jung Jae Sung / Lee Yong Dae (pictured), a team the Chinese had only beaten twice in 8 meetings since the last Sudirman Cup.

With Lee Yong Dae’s new-found attacking prowess, this was even more of a smash-fest than usual.  The Chinese pair looked determined to play the heroes of the day for their team as they fought back from 15-18 down in the first to win it 21-19.

The Koreans led from early in the second and third games but although they never relinquished the lead, nor did Cai and Fu ever let them out of their sights.  The visitors did manage to hang on, however, and earned Korea its first Sudirman Cup point against China since they last won the Cup in 2003.

Despite dropping a point, China was still in the most enviable position of having to rely, for their winning point, on either of two world #1’s, both of whom have been next to unbeatable over the last year.  Korea had to know that China would field Wang Shixian (pictured left), as their other three women’s singles players have appeared vulnerable to Korean opposition of late.

In fact, the Korean team came into the competition with two of the mere three players in Level 1 who had ever beaten Shixian.  The trouble is, that both of those wins – by Bae Youn Joo (pictured below) and by doubles player Jung Kyung Eun – came nearly 4 years ago.  Bae herself points out that the error-prone fellow junior she beat in 2007 bears little resemblance to the champion Wang Shixian of today.

Wang has never felt any pressure in her three meetings with Bae over the past year and today was no exception.  Bae showed flashes of brilliance but ultimately could not cover the amount of court she needed to retrieve what her opponent was sending.  Executing her net shots and cross-court smashes and drops with frightening precision, Wang Shixian raced out to big leads in both games and soon ran out the 21-15, 21-12 winner.

So did China ascend to the Sudirman Cup final yet again and they now look even stronger to take their fourth Cup in a row, in front of a very appreciative home crowd for the 3rd time in less than a decade.

Final results
XD: Xu Chen / Ma Jin (CHN) beat Ko Sung Hyun / Ha Jung Eun (KOR)     21-23, 21-14, 24-22
MS: Lin Dan (CHN) beat Park Sung Hwan (KOR)     21-16, 21-10
MD: Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng (CHN) lost to Jung Jae Sung / Lee Yong Dae (KOR)     21-19, 16-21, 14-21
WS: Wang Shixian (CHN) beat Bae Youn Joo (KOR)   21-15, 21-12
WD: Yu Yang / Wang Xiaoli (CHN) vs Ha Jung Eun / Kim Min Jung (KOR) (not played)

China 3-1 Korea

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 @