KOREA OPEN 2017 Finals – Susanto and Jordan end title drought

Two pairs looking to follow All England titles had contrasting fortunes but Debby Susanto and Praveen Jordan made the Korea Open title their first since Birmingham last year. By Don […]

Two pairs looking to follow All England titles had contrasting fortunes but Debby Susanto and Praveen Jordan made the title their first since Birmingham last year.

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

Finals day at the Korea Open got off to a raucous start as the crowd – in particular a vociferous and appreciative contingent of Indonesian supporters – were given exactly what they wanted by Debby Susanto and Praveen Jordan.  The Australian Open runners-up beat China’s Wang Yilyu / Huang Dongping (pictured right) to take their first title since the 2016 All England.

For the Indonesians, getting on the attack was not just good strategy, but it was also the best way to bring the crowd’s Indonesian supporters to the high volume that made it clear the Chinese pair had more than two people to contend with.  The first game ended with a thrilling behind-the-back retrieval by Jordan, which Wang unfortunately followed up by pushing long of the back line.

The second game started with just as much enthusiasm from the crowd and with more excitement on court to fuel it.  There was a mad scramble when Wang dashed off court to replace a racquet with a broken string.  The Chinese recovered to get back on even footing in the rally but finally let it slip away.  After 0-0, the Chinese tied it up only at 9-all, then the Indonesians took the lead for good.

“For sure, against the Chinese players, we are ready to be tired and then we had to focus from the beginning of the match until the end,” said Praveen Jordan after the final.

“Actually we weren’t frustrated but we were curious about why we couldn’t win again after the All England in 2016,” said Debby Susanto (pictured left), “but we just thought the day will come when we will win again.

“We made it to the final in Australia but we made too many mistakes so this time, we concentrated on not letting that happen again and we tried to enjoy the match.”

Yu got it!  On her third try in Korea

Yu Xiaohan and Lee So Hee have a habit of meeting in finals in Korea.  Lee’s first ever encounter with Yu and also Huang Yaqiong, was at the 2012 Asian Junior Championships in Gimcheon – an event with 7 of 20 finalists in common with today’s Korea Open.

Lee and Shin Seung Chan won that day and had added the World Junior title that same year before they met Yu again in the 2015 Universiade final in Hwasun, when Yu again settled for silver, that time with Ou Dongni, with whom she had already won the Singapore Open.

On Sunday in Seoul, however, there was no luck for the Koreans.  Like the mixed doubles winners, the Koreans’ last title was the at All England Championships but unlike Susanto and Jordan, Lee and Chang Ye Na won their title earlier this year and, more importantly, they were unable to make today’s Korea Open their next trip to the top of a podium.

The Koreans had exactly two moments in the lead: at 8-7 in the first game and at 1-0 in the second.  Apart from that, it was all about Huang and Yu dominating as they played solid defense whenever the Koreans had the attack, and waited patiently for shuttles short enough to kill.

“There are no easy opponents,” said Chang Ye Na after the final.  “I think we somehow let the match be played exactly as our opponents wanted to and that made it very difficult to us.

“I can’t say there wasn’t any pressure as the only Korean finalists but I wouldn’t go so far as to say we lost because we felt under pressure.  It was good that we got all the way to the final but it certainly would have been nice if we’d had a better result today.”

Lee So Hee denied that there was any major shift in Yu Xiaohan’s strength as an opponent, even from their junior days: “These players are ones I’ve known since playing as a junior.  When we were juniors, they were very good players and they are very good players now.”

Both players also pointed out that this tournament and next week in Japan cannot be seen as some kind of special milestone even though each will have different women’s doubles partners for the Denmark and French events next month: “When we get back from Japan, we are shuffling the partners around in women’s doubles but we don’t yet know how it’s going to end up.  It’s not going to change how we approach any individual tournament,” said Lee So Hee.

“After the Japan Open, it’s just a testing period so even we don’t know yet [who will end up partnering whom],” added Chang Ye Na.

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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