Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong reunion set for Sydney

Former world #1 Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong are on the entry lists published today for the 2019 Australian Open.  This will be only their 2nd international appearance […]

Former world #1 and Yoo Yeon Seong are on the entry lists published today for the 2019 .  This will be only their 2nd international appearance – and their first overseas – since Lee first announced his following the 2016 Korea Open.

Photos: Badmintonphoto and Don Hearn

The Badminton World Federation () today published the entry lists for the 2019 Australian Open Super 300 event.  As expected in the first major tournament as the Tokyo Olympic qualifying period resumes following the Sudirman Cup layoff, it is a strong field overall.  But one of the most notable items is way down on the qualifying list for men’s doubles.

Beijing Olympic mixed doubles gold medallist Lee Yong Dae was the first of 6 Korean men’s doubles stars to declare his retirement from international badminton following the Rio Olympics but all 6 have since come back after Korean courts ordered a rule change for how the (BKA) handled independent players’ attempts to compete internationally.  Only one of the 3 Korean pairs who were ranked in the top 5 prior to the 2016 Olympics returned intact last year but that is about to change.

Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong (pictured above), who were ranked #1 in the world for 117 weeks – right up until Lee’s retirement took effect in the autumn of 2016 – show up as 7th on the qualifying list for the Australian Open.  The pair won the last tournament they entered before Lee’s retirement kicked in, the 2016 Korea Open, but under existing BKA rules, they were able to stage a one-time reunion for the 2017 Korea Masters Grand Prix Gold.  The Australian Open will thus be their first outing together in over a year and a half.

With the BKA rule change, Lee had already returned to action last summer, when he and Kim Gi Jung won the Spain Masters, a result they followed up with another Super 300 title in Macau in November.  However, since then, the best the duo could manage was a semi-final finish at the Swiss Open.  Yoo Yeon Seong formally retired in the spring of 2017 but as of his birthday that year, he became eligible to compete internationally under already existing BKA regulations and he played a few tournaments with Malaysians Lim Khim Wah and, in 2018, Tan Boon Heong, but he was unable to post any promising results.  His only tournament victory came when he and national team coach Kim Sang Soo won the Dubai International Challenge last November.  He most recently played two International Challenges with fellow former Korean national team member Kim Duk Young.

In fact, Kim Gi Jung was the only one of Korea’s ‘retired’ big 6 who does not appear on the list at all for Australia.  2014 World Champions Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol (pictured right with Kim/Lee on the Macau Open podium) also resumed playing as independent shuttlers last summer and Australia will be their 11th tournament since returning.  Meanwhile, Kim Gi Jung’s former partner Kim Sa Rang, with whom he was once ranked as high as #2 in the world, was entered with Tan Boon Heong but they withdrew before the entry deadline.  Kim and Tan have played together 4 times since November and they reached the semi-finals of the Korea Masters in December.

To download the complete Australian Open entry lists from the BWF website, click here

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