KOREA OPEN 2017 SF – Chang/Lee back in the final

Chang Ye Na and Lee so Hee are back in the Korea Open final after again ousting Rio silver medallists Pedersen/Rytter Juhl. By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Seoul.  […]

Chang Ye Na and Lee so Hee are back in the final after again ousting Rio silver medallists Pedersen/Rytter Juhl.

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

Two years ago, Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee (pictured) were nearly a new pair in their home .  In only their third tournament as a pair, they had to meet Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl.  The Danes were coming off runner-up finishes in Japan and at the World Championships and were ranked #3 in the world.

At the time, Lee So Hee had never beaten the European pair and Chang had had very little success against them as well.  But the Koreans won that match and went on to appear in their first Superseries final.

The Koreans, of course, are now the All England champions and they have since established an edge over the Danes that has eluded other otherwise successful Korean pairs.  Of course they had two noteworthy losses to Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl (pictured), particularly the first one, which came at the Rio Olympics.  But things did not start off easy for Chang and Lee as they came up short in the first game before winning the next two in convincing fashion.

“This pair is really good on the attack and they were very precise early in the match,” said Chang Ye Na after the match, “but then their intensity seemed to go down later and they became more defensive, trying to play safely and we then had the chance to hit where we wanted to and we ended up with more chances of our own.

“It’s very important to do well on service and return with this team.  I just remember that it was very difficult playing that match against them in Singapore.  This time, we concentrated more on the serve and return and they weren’t as able to get so many easy points off us.

Lee So Hee, who had complained after her match on Friday that she had been having troubles with her concentration of late, was asked about it again today: “I was just lucky that I didn’t have the problems with my concentration that I had in the previous match.  Today, I just was able to concentrate better than last time.”

Chang Ye Na did not attach any special importance to this performance being in her second last appearance with Lee before they switch partners for the Denmark Open:  “More than this being a special last chance or anything, I think the fact that we’ve played together for two years means that we know and trust each other on court.  We feel we’ve played well together and we just want to concentrate on doing more of that, particularly to get this win in at home in Korea.”

“Two years ago we were runners-up and there is some disappointment that we hope to make up for by winning in Korea,” said Lee So Hee, who would not express a preference for an opponent, between the two quality pairs still on court at the time in the other women’s doubles semi-final: “Neither opponent would be easy to play against and the two pair’s styles are so different.  We just have to prepare to suit the pair we have to play in the final.”

The two finalists have not yet met each other but the first time Lee So Hee played against Huang Yaqiong / Yu Xiaohan (pictured bottom) – who shortly thereafter beat world #1 Mastutomo/ Takahashi in the other semi-final – was in Korea back in 2012, when she and then partner Shin Seung Chan beat the Chinese in the final of the Asian Junior Championships.

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 @ badzine.net