WORLD UNIVERSITY CHAMPS 2012 SF – Germans give top seeds a scare

Andreas Heinz and Max Schwenger were oh-so-close to toppling top seeds and home favourites Kim Ki Jung and Lee Yong Dae in the semi-finals of the Gwangju World University Badminton […]

Andreas Heinz and Max Schwenger were oh-so-close to toppling top seeds and home favourites Kim Ki Jung and Lee Yong Dae in the semi-finals of the Gwangju World Badminton Championships but instead had to settle for the biggest near-upset of their career.

Story and photos:  Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Gwangju

Before this week, Korean star Lee Yong Dae had already played with four different men’s doubles partners in international tournaments in 2012.  In this event, though, Lee is paired with fellow frontcourt specialist Kim Ki Jung but they have been having their way with opponents all week…until Saturday night’s German challenge came up.

Andreas Heinz and Max Schwenger (pictured above) had a decent start, rarely leading but continually having success at keeping Kim and Lee scrambling back when the two wanted to be rushing to kill at the net.  With the Koreans struggling to end the rallies, the Germans inched back into the game from 11-16 down and finally leapfrogged into the lead with an incredible 9-point run.

After being dominated in the second, the underdogs tried several times to repeat their feat in the decider, at one point erasing a 10-13 deficit, but they finally bowed 17-21 in the third game.

“This is unbelievable.  We never expected such a match,” said Heinz after the match.  “We thought our only chance was to come and try to win a few points.”

“After the first game we thought okay we won one game but maybe now they will play better and it will be hard for us to win,” added Schwenger.  “Then in the third game, it was 11-8 and I thought there was a slight chance but there was no pressure so we could just have fun and I think that’s the reason why we played so well.”

“We know that our defence is very good but we still didn’t know that it was good enough to produce a match this close at this level so it’s surprising for us,” admitted Heinz.

“We knew that they were going to come to the net very fast,” said Schwenger.  “We didn’t want to just try to play fast because they are very fast so we did a lot of lifts and made it hard for them to get behind the shuttle.”

Heinz and Schwenger have been playing mainly on the European circuit and are actually just coming off their first ever Superseries tournament, the French Open, where they lost in qualifying in an event that Lee Yong Dae went on to win.

“We have been playing together for a year and half but we are still young, we have a lot to learn and we need time to develop so that we can play better at this level,” said Heinz.

“We haven’t seen much of the city yet but I hope tomorrow or tonight we will have time to look around,” said Schwenger, “but it’s a great atmosphere in the hall and the hotel and everything are good.  I hope to make it back in 2015.

The Koreans were denied a lock on the finals, however, as Kang Ji Wook and Lee Sang Joon lost to Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chung-Jen and Lin Yen-Jui.  Another European did manage to book his spot in Sunday’s finals, however, as Pablo Abian outplayed Lee Dong Keun to get his shot at revenge upon China’s Wen Kai, the man who ousted him from last year’s Universiade.

Click here for complete Saturday results


World University Badminton Championship venue Yeomju Gymnasium in Gwangju, with 1187-metre Moodeung Mountain looming on the horizon © Don Hearn for Badzine

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 @