MACAU OPEN 2015 SF – Koreans clinch 1, Shin wants 2

With a perfect 5 for 5 semi-finals day at the Macau Open, Team Korea has clinched one title but Shin Baek Cheol will be fighting for two to use toward […]

With a perfect 5 for 5 semi-finals day at the , Team Korea has clinched one title but Shin Baek Cheol will be fighting for two to use toward his dual Rio qualification bids.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

The Superseries has all but finished for 2015 but as the best of the best take a couple of weeks to prepare for the finale in Dubai, the second tier is well-represented in the penultimate Gold event of the season.  The final weekend of the Macau Open promises to be a real boost particularly for Korean shuttlers like Shin Baek Cheol.

Shin Baek Cheol finished the 2015 Superseries on the periphery of both men’s and mixed doubles.  He had a brief stint of military training and some rehabilitation for a knee injury that gave him a late start to the 2015 season, coupled with a partner change in mixed that took effect in May and it has taken both of his partnerships some time to hit their stride.

Shin is in a position familiar to many of the other semi-finalists in Macau.  Many are struggling to keep up with compatriots for the precious berths in the Rio Olympics while others are scrambling to make it into the top 16 or top 8 to qualify as a second singles player or doubles pair from their nation.

For Shin Baek Cheol, it is both.  In the men’s doubles, he and Ko Sung Hyun (pictured top) are just a few thousand points behind compatriots Kim Ki Jung / Kim Sa Rang in the Race to Rio standings and a title here in Macau would be a big boost toward catching the Kims, who are currently poised to take the second Korean spot in Rio.

The 2014 World Champions could hardly have cut it any closer in their semi-final.  They reeled in Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov / Ivan Sozonov twice before giving up the first game.  Then, it took a couple of late surges in the next two games – including saving two match points in the third – to see them through to the final.

Their opponents will be Berry Angriawan / Rian Agung Saputro (pictured above).  The Indonesians are the team that perhaps did their opponents a favour by beating the two Kims in the second round in Macau but they are playing in their first major final of the year.  Their only other podium finish this year has been winning the Indonesian International Challenge in August.

Shin is in a slightly different situation in mixed doubles.  In that discipline, Korea already has one pair virtually assured of finishing in the top 8 in May and Shin and Chae Yoo Jung (pictured) are battling to ascend into the top eight to snatch a second ticket to Rio.  But so, too, are their compatriots and Macau final opponents Choi Sol Gyu and Eom Hye Won.

Both Korean pairs won in two close games.  Choi and Eom have the Thailand Open title to their name already but Shin and Chae are slightly higher in the rankings, currently #11 in Olympic qualification points.  As a pair, they are now in their third major final of the year and this is the third time they are facing another Korean pair for a Grand Prix Gold title.

Tian, too, trying for third time lucky

Chae Yoo Jung is not the only one looking to finally take a major title on her third attempt in 2015.  Tian Houwei (pictured below) was in the finals of both the Badminton Asia Championships last spring, and of last week’s Hong Kong Open.

Both times, he was thwarted by a former world #1 but in Macau, he will have no living legend blocking his path.  Tian had a little trouble with 18-year-olds Lin Guipu and Seo Seung Jae in the earlier rounds but got his game down to beat Thailand Open runner-up Ihsan Maulana Mustofa in straight games.

Next up is Korea’s Jeon Hyeok Jin, who is actually looking for the biggest of his three titles of the year.  He himself has been blocked twice this year by former world #1 Lee Hyun Il but he has also beaten both current and former top ten players this year, including two en route to winning gold at the Summer Universiade.  He won handily over Malysia’s Goh Soon Huat.

Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (pictured) is the only defending champion still in the race.  She scored her first win over Japanese teenager Akane Yamaguchi and will take on Minatsu Mitani in the final.  Mitani helped ensure that China would be limited to one title at the most.  She beat Asian Junior Champion He Bingjiao in three games.

The women’s doubles will feature two pairs who have yet to win a final this year.  Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan won the Denmark Open by default and were runners-up a couple of weeks later at the Korea Masters.  That was in addition to one other runner-up finish for Jung with her former partner.

The Koreans’ opponents will be Poon Lok Yan / Tse Ying Suet (pictured bottom).  The pair failed to carry the momentum from their finals appearance at the Bitburger Open into their home event, last week’s Hong Kong Open, and they have crossed the Pearl River delta with a keenness to improve on that this weekend.

Finals line-up
XD: Shin Baek Cheol / Chae Yoo Jung (KOR) [5] vs. Choi Sol Gyu / Eom Hye Won (KOR)
WS: P. V. Sindhu (IND) [5] vs. Minatsu Mitani (JPN) [6]
MS: Tian Houwei (CHN) [2] vs. Jeon Hyeok Jin (KOR) [13]
WD: Jung Kyung Eun / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) [6] vs. Poon Lok Yan / Tse Ying Suet (HKG)
MD: Ko Sung Hyun / Shin Baek Cheol (KOR) [2] vs. Berry Angriawan / Rian Agung Saputro (INA)

Click here for complete semi-final results

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 @