U.S. GP 2015 Finals – Koreans romp in California

Korean shuttlers picked up 3 of the 5 titles at the U.S. Grand Prix event in Orange County, including an upset of the top seeds by Choi Sol Gyu and […]

Korean shuttlers picked up 3 of the 5 titles at the U.S. event in Orange County, including an upset of the top seeds by Choi Sol Gyu and Eom Hye Won.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

Korean shuttlers have had a rocky road to putting their team back on the map in women’s and especially mixed doubles.  A third pair is working on getting itself into the top ten but just last week, Choi Sol Gyu and Eom Hye Won (pictured) were unceremoniously dumped from the U.S. International Challenge in Florida by eventual winners Michael Fuchs and Birgit Michels of Germany.

The Koreans had to wait well over a week and cross a continent but they finally had a chance for some payback in the final of the Grand Prix event.  Choi and Eom put away the German pair in straight games to take their second title of the year.

The win should give a slight boost to their world ranking but they are still only inching toward the top 8 in the Race to Rio standings, an objective that just got harder this week with two top 9 pairs getting points in Dubai.

4th final, 3rd title, first final victory for Jung/Shin

The afternoon began in Orange County with a repeat of the Korea Masters women’s doubles final.  Although it was the 3rd title for Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan (pictured), it was the first time they actually finished a final match.  At the Denmark and Macau Opens, their opponents were, respectively, unable to begin and complete their final matches.

Both pairs will be happy to ensconce themselves even deeper into the top 8 of the Rio standings but they will soon be bracing themselves for the late push to come, particularly from Tian/Zhao and Tang/Yu of China.  As for the current world rankings, this should also put Jung and Shin into the top ten for the first time.

In the men’s singles, Korea’s Lee Hyun Il took his 5th title of the year and his 4th at the Grand Prix level or above.  The ageless former world #1 beat England’s Rajiv Ouseph in straight games.  Earlier this year, Lee became the oldest player ever to win a Grand Prix singles title since the distinction began in its current form in 2007.  While this is his first not at the Grand Prix Gold level like his other three titles this year – in Malaysia, New Zealand, and Thailand – he keeps making his record harder to beat with each successive win closer and closer to his 36th birthday.

Women’s singles went to Pai Yu Po (pictured) of Chinese Taipei.  It was Pai’s fourth meeting this year with Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour, who won their encounter at the U.S. Open Grand Prix Gold in June.  With her first title of 2015, Pai has improved her chances of climbing into the top 16 by May, which she will have to do to accompany compatriot Tai Tzu Ying to Rio.

Goh/Tan on top at last

The last and quickest match of the day saw Malaysia’s Goh V. Shem / Tan Wee Kiong (pictured) reverse their fortunes against Vladimir Ivanov / Ivan Sozonov.  The tall Russians denied Go and Tan at the Russian Open, one of two finals appearances the Malaysians had made in Grand Prix events this year, prior to this one.

Goh and Tan are currently locked in a duel with former world #1 Koo/Tan to see who will rank higher at the end of the Rio qualification period or whether both can make it into the top 8.

Many of the top players will next be heading south to Mexico City for the last Grand Prix event of 2015, including all of the doubles winners.  Goh/Tan’s rivals Koo/Tan withdrew from the Mexico event before the draw was made but they are again seeded second to the mighty Russians and could have yet another showdown with them next weekend.

Final results
WD: Jung Kyung Eun / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) beat Jang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (KOR)  24-22, 18-21, 21-12
XD: Choi Solgyu / Eom Hye Won (KOR) [8] beat Michael Fuchs / Birgit Michels (GER) [1]  21-12, 21-14
MS: Lee Hyun Il (KOR) [1] beat Rajiv Ouseph (ENG) [2]  21-19, 21-12
WS: Pai Yu Po (TPE) beat Kirsty Gilmour (SCO) [7]  18-21, 21-15, 21-15
MD: Goh V. Shem / Tan Wee Kiong (MAS) [2] beat Vladimir Ivanov / Ivan Sozonov (RUS) [1]  21-14, 21-17

Click here for complete 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 @ badzine.net