KOREA OPEN 2015 Finals – Back to the top for Sung Ji Hyun!

Sung Ji Hyun provided the only upset of the day, tying her opponent with two career Korea Open Superseries titles. By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Seoul.  Photos: Yves […]

Sung Ji Hyun provided the only upset of the day, tying her opponent with two career titles.

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

Sung Ji Hyun looked full of confidence as she began her match against two-time defending champion Wang Yihan at the 2015 Korea Open.  This despite the fact that she was 1-10 against Wang, her only victory coming nearly 4 years ago in the preliminaries of the 2011 Superseries Finals, an event that Wang actually went on to win.

The Korean took the first game handily but let the second slip away from her near the end: “With the air conditioning, from the end I was playing on in the second game the shuttles were flying a lot faster and it was very hard to control and that made it difficult to win that game,” said Sung Ji Hyun.

The deciding game looked to be going all Wang Yihan’s way but Sung came back from the interval on what she later described as the difficult end, and embarked on a 7-1 run that gave her back the lead and raised the hopes of the home crowd.

Wang inched back in front but the underdog Sung stayed close.  Trailing 17-18, she played a fantastic rally with incredible retrieving and finally watched Wang Yihan’s drive sail out wide.  This started off the last push that ended with Sung’s 21-18 victory and her second Superseries title.

“I won my first Superseries title here in 2013 and I hadn’t been able to win another since then but now that I’ve won again in the same event, I’m just so glad,” said Sung Ji Hyun after receiving her medal and winner’s cheque, “especially since it’s been so long since I’ve won a Superseries.

“Wang Yihan is ranked higher than me, of course, and she has also won many Superseries titles so the odds were against me but to beat her, and in a Superseries final, feels really good.”

Sung Ji Hyun was unable to remember, for one journalist, exactly how many times she had lost to Wang Yihan but when another pointed out that her record was now 2-10, she smiled and said, “Whoa, I’ve lost a lot, then!”

Line calls were not an issue in this final.  Wang Yihan did challenge twice and Sung Ji Hyun once.  Wang challenged correctly the first time, but lost her challenge the second time when, in the home stretch, the call stood and went against her after Sung had successfully challenged another call that was overturned in her favour.

“When I played Wang Yihan here in the semi-finals in 2011, we didn’t have the challenge system and several times, I lost points when the umpire overruled the line judge and that was very unsettling.  This time, since we had the challenge system, I think I prefer it now.

“Because this tournament was held in Korea, it is really important and before the event, and before the Japan Open, I really trained a lot and trained hard.  I trained with a lead vest and really worked on my stamina.  The goal was really to work on the difficult match situations where it’s really gruelling, to just give me the strength to endure and keep going and I think that was really helpful.

“At the beginning of the third game, I was really exhausted and I wasn’t concentrating on controlling the shuttle, but instead on conserving energy.  Then I started to catch up and I saw the end in sight and thought, Okay, let’s win this!

“I was helped by the fans cheering and chanting my name.  That’s the same in any country.  If you go to China, the people will be chanting ‘Wang Yihan! Wang Yihan!’ so it’s really the same.  Because we were playing in Korea, it gave strength to me.”

Asked to comment on her recent improvement in form that has led to a World Championship bronze and now another Superseries title, Sung said, “My training has improved and I think in particular, my mental strength has improved and I’ve become more confident.

“In my on-court training, too, I train playing with the men and that has helped with my shot speed, for example, and I think that has made the difference.

“We have some preparation time before the Denmark Open so I still have work to do on my speed and my stamina so if I can improve there, then in Denmark, I have to be able to do better.”

Chen Long became the first 2014 champion to defend his title.  He denied Ajay Jayaram (pictured) any additional miracles for the week and won the men’s singles final in straight games.

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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