KOREA OPEN 2014 R32 – China gets into the upset business

2014 started off with a red-letter day for China, as underdogs and favourites alike advanced with only a World Champion standing in the way of a perfect 18. By Don […]

2014 started off with a red-letter day for China, as underdogs and favourites alike advanced with only a World Champion standing in the way of a perfect 18.

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

The first day of main draw action at the Victor started off with a couple of upsets for Malaysia.  After losing two men’s singles players to 18-year-old Koreans in qualifying, the Malaysians saw a lacklustre start to 2014 for Hoon Thien How and Tan Wee Kiong, who had finished last year quite strong.

Hoon and Tan went down to China’s Kang Jun / Liu Cheng (pictured above) tamely, while in the adjacent court, Korea’s Ko Eun Byul (pictured below) took care of Malaysia’s Tee Jing Yi, also in under half an hour.

Next, it was England’s turn to drop a pair, in their case both to unheralded Koreans.  Chris Langridge / Heather Olver (pictured above) were outclassed by Korea Grand Prix Gold runners-up Kang Ji Wook / Choi Hye In.

Following this, Hwang Jong Soo, a 25-year-old returnee to the national team, got the better of English veteran Rajiv Ouseph (pictured below) in three games.

Indonesia had a couple of ups and a couple of downs.  First, Muhammad Rijal and Vita Marissa (pictured), playing together for the first time since 2009, were shown the door by Hong Kong’s Chan/Tse.

The bright spot for Indonesian doubles came when Greysia Polii / Nitya Krishinda Maheswari ousted Thailand’s Aroonkesorn/Voravichitchaikul.

Indonesian chances in men’s singles suffered a blow when Singapore Open champion Tommy Sugiarto became the second victim of a Chinese upset.  In fact, he became the latest victim of China’s Tian Houwei, the man who beat the likes of Jan O. Jorgensen, Nguyen Tien Minh and Lee Chong Wei in 2013.

The sole Indonesian remaining in the discipline is now Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka (pictured below), who won his rematch against Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, the man who had denied him the gold at the SEA Games in Myanmar last month.

China’s other significant upset in the men’s singles came with the victory of Gao Huan over Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, a loss that leaves the European power with only Jan O Jorgensen (pictured above) advancing to the next round.  China’s only loss on the day was that of Suo Di to World Champion Ratchanok Intanon.

Japan got into the groove in an unlikely fashion.  Current World Junior Champion Akane Yamaguchi advanced within minutes when Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk was forced to retire with an injury.  Shortly thereafter, on the same court, Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda served the local crowd some disappointment when they nipped Kim Ki Jung and Kim Sa Rang’s campaign in the bud, winning in straight games.

2012 World Junior Champion Kento Momota (pictured below) was in danger of being stopped short himself by Korean #2 Lee Dong Keun but he pulled out a nailbiter, winning 22-20 in the deciding game.

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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