Saturday, January 31, 2009

INDONESIA – Taufik Turns Professional

Taufik Hidayat gave a press conference in Jakarta on Friday to claim his new independance from his National Federation, PB PBSI. The Indonesian shuttler had left PB PBSI once before when he fled to Singapore before returning to his homeland under the tutelage of his coach Mulyo Handoyo. The latter’s turned down the offer of renewal in 2009 by PB PBSI. In a statement that he gave during the press conference in Jakarta, Taufik explained it was a hard decision for him to leave PB PBSI and turn professional, but his reasons are to make way for the younger generation. Taufik hinted that he would continue his career as an independent and professional player and expressed his gratitude to his former employers.
Here is the statement from Taufik :
Jakarta, 30 January 2009

"For the past 12 years i have practiced and played badminton while living at the National Badminton Training Headquarters (Pelatnas) in Cipayung. And during that time PB PBSI (The Indonesian Badminton Association) has provided me with the chance to share happiness and sadness, to experience the exhilaration of winning and the downside of losing. PB PBSI as the highest badminton organization in Indonesia has teach me about many things in life; on solidarity, independence, on what is right and what is wrong, as well as teaching me on having the highest sense of pride as i look up and were able to watch our flag on the highest platform possible many times before, that Winning is an Attitude.

The solidarity and bond that is shared between me and the community in Pelatnas remained the strongest. We have experienced various happy and sad events that people can only possibly dreamed of. That is why, after a long 12 years in Pelatnas, the bond that we share is deeper than that of a working relationship, because we are a part of a dedicated and commited family.

In order to leave the family that i have in Cipayung, is not something that i take lightly, but i’ve reminded myself many times before, that in order a proper regeneration of PB PBSI atheletes would be able to happen smoothly, that is why i have reached one of the most difficult decisions of my life, that is to be apart from the management of PB PBSI, and being a professional badminton player. I’ve reached this decision in hopes that it would be able to push as well as accelerate my juniors progress on court. For they also deserve to be recognized by PB PBSI and to be shown faith of their abilities, like many has shown faith and hope in my abilities. I do hope, that with this huge burden , they would be motivate to be the very best.

If we were to look at my age and the achievements that i have painstakingly achieved, this period could very well be the perfect opportunity for me to further build my career outside Pelatnas. A plan that have been a long time in the making, could finally be realized at the point where my badminton career credibility could only be seen as positive. For we all know and have learned from past experience of our seniors, many were conditioned to resigned as their achievement dwindle little by little, or because of a continued injury. This is why i forced myself to think practically and effective, in order to ensure that the future of my career and also, my family would not be at risk.

But, i do acknowleged the important fact that I’ve come to be what I am now, is owed largely to PB PBSI’s support through out the years. I am sure the gratitude that i speak of for PB PBSI, as they took me under their wings all those years ago, would not be able to fully express the extend of my respect for them. They have been one of the biggest part of my journey through life.

Wherever i may be, i would continue my efforts to fight through badminton for our country, because I Believe, that it is not important “Where” do i fight, but for “Whom” i would always be fighting for, which is the same as PB PBSI’s mission, that is for the good of Indonesia.

For you Indonesia,

EUROPEAN CHAMPS – Denmark sends younger team

EUROPEAN CHAMPS – Denmark sends younger team PDF Print E-mail
Persson will lead Denmark instead of GadeDenmark will be favourite to win the team European Championships, but it will be without veterans Peter Gade and the duo of Paaske/Ramsussen. The Danes will bank on their new talents to keep the Gold medal they have won 12 times already. All teams line-ups have just been unveiled by organizers.

Raphael Sachetat, Photos : (archives)

Denmark will be favourite for the Team European Championships, to be held in Liverpool next month. But there will be a chance for other teams to beat the great Danes, as three key figures will be missing from the squad : Peter Gade, Jonas Rasmussen and Lars Paaske. If the latter will see no objection to this decision as he is due to be a father fairly soon, Peter Gade on his side may have wanted to go and see the city of his favourite football team. “In a way, I am disappointed not to go, but I understand perfectly the coaches’ decision. Actually, had I been a coach, I would have probably made the same decision because it’s important that the younger players learn to cope with a bit more pressure on their shoulders. And I think I have given my share to the team already.” said Gade in a telephone interview.
The confusion over Gade’s participation – he was announced by the Organizers to be participating in the event – was probably due to the fact that Denmark is anticipating possible injuries – especially with the Denmark National Championships this week-end and hence, sending the biggest possible list. “This is probably why my name was on the list, but I will not be going to Liverpool unless something happens to one of our men’s singles” confirmed Gade (photo right).

Denmark will surely miss his number one, who has proven his great form by scooping the Korea Open recently, but the younger generation has proven its worth recently : Joachim Persson (photo up) and Jan Jorgensen have both performed very well lately, the former entering the top 10 and qualifying for the Super Series final while Jorgensen recently clinched the Swedish International, where most of the other top European players were featured. For the doubles, Boe and Mogensen (pictured in rotator spot) will take over the spot left empty by Paaske and Rasmussen, but once again, their recent win in Korea – beating no less that Lee/Jung in the final, at home – will probably see them filled with confidence to lead the team for the first time. And if this wasn’t enough, Tine Rasmussen, on her side, will make the trip to Liverpool to ensure some important points in the singles. The mixed team sent to England is the strongest possible with both Laybourn/Juhl and Fischer-Nieslen/Pedersen , while two key figures of the Women’s double will stay home : Helle Nielsen and Lena Frier, the latter being also European Champion.

Other teams send full line up.

If Denmark looks as the favourites on paper, other teams have sent their strongest line ups, as expected and the fact that 5 key figures of the Danish team are missing will probably give the others some hopes. Second seeds and hosts England will bank on their full “post Emms” squad with three key players – Nathan Robertson, Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg (photo) , who have more than 250 International Caps all together. Germany and Poland, seeded 3rd and 4th respectively will also be eying for Denmark’s false move, even if Poland will have to play without Nadiezda Kostiuczyk, who has undergone a hip surgery and is out for several months. Germany are set to play with their full squad, led by Xu Huaiwen. Same goes for the Dutch – who will have an homogeneous team with most of their players able to be featured both in singles and doubles. France with its 7th seed spot is sending its youngest team ever – apart from Pi Hongyan who turned 30 this past Sunday. The French men squad’s average age is 20.

Badzine will be covering the European Championships live from Liverpool

Official Website here

Sunday, January 25, 2009

SWEDISH INTERNATIONAL - Jorgensen Does Double Dutch

SWEDISH INTERNATIONAL - Jorgensen Does Double Dutch PDF Print E-mail
Jan O Jorgensen was today crowned Swedish International Champion and in doing so has laid down a clear marker to the rest of the badminton world. His three set win over Dicky Palyama (photo left) in today’s final is the icing on the cake for the young Dane as earlier in the week he beat Palyama’s compatriot and current world number 23 Eric Pang.

By Mark Phelan. Photos: (archive)

Jorgensen’s last appearance on the International scene was back in September 2008 at the China Masters. The following week Jorgensen (photo right) sustained a back injury which, at the time, was a huge blow to the young Dane as it kept him out of his home Super Series event in October and the French Super Series later that month.
Sweden has been a happy hunting ground for Jorgensen as last year he reached the final but to win this year was certainly more than he could have wished for given his 4 month lay off.
Jorgensen had to recover from loosing the opening set to Palyama 16-21 before eventually taking the match with a 22-20 21-17 win in the second and third sets in a game that lasted 6 minutes short of an hour.

“I was very nervous at the beginning of the match. Dicky was playing pretty well and he got a comfortable lead. It was the end of the first set before I managed to settle and play some good rallies but it was to late. In the second set I tried to move Dicky around a bit and it was a close game. I was 18-16 up and made a few errors to leaving Dicky with 2 match points. I managed to steal the second set 22-20 with a run of four points. The third set I felt very good and purposely played long rallies and I took the third set and the match. Im so glad to be back now and winning my first tournament in a long time is a huge boost for me. I cant wait now for at our nationals, the German Open and of course the All England’s and Swiss Super Series” commented Jorgensen after his win

In the women’s singles Japans Yu Hirayama (photo) had little difficulty in seeing of the challenge of Malaysia’s Anita Raj Kaur in two sets. In a match that lasted only 33 minutes the Japanese shuttler ran out a 21-15 21-14 winner to lift the title.

England’s hope of success were dashed when Chris Landridge and David Lindley were beaten in a very competitive men’s doubles final by Shoji Sato and Naoki Kawamae in three sets 15-21 21-14 21-17. The win handed Japan its second gold on finals day after the success of Hirayama in the women’s singles. There was a double blow for the English as Robert Adcock and Heather Olver were convincingly beaten by Ukrainian pair Atrashchenkov and Prus in two sets in a match that extended to just 27 minutes.

In the final match of the day the combination of Pauline Van Dooremalen and Rachel Van Custen restored some Dutch pride as they emerged victorious in a dramatic three set battle by beating local favourites Emelie Lennartsson and Emma Wengberg in the closest match of the day. The Swedish pair took the opener 22-20 and appeared to be heading to victory in front of their home supporters but the gutsy Dutch girls battled back to take the second set 19-21 and the final rubber 22-20

For all results click HERE

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

SWEDISH INTER'L - Jorgensen back

Jan Jorgensen has completed his recovery from his back injury and will be back to perform in the neighbouring Swedish Internationals this week end, part of the EBU circuit. The young Dane, who has entered history for being the first Dane in 10 years to beat his compatriot Peter Gade - had suffered a set back when he was told to stay out of practise for a while. "At first, the doctors thought something was wrong with my discus, but it turned out to be that my lower back muscles where just too tense. Then, the best way to get rid of it was to work had in the fitness center" said Jorgensen. "Now, I have started training again since the beggining of december, so I am aiming for a strong comeback for the next months" added the Dane.

Seeded 5th, he will be playing Yuhan Tan of Belgium in the first round, with Ville Lang and top seed Eric Pang as probable opponents to come, in Sweden. The Danes have sent a strong contingent in Stockholm with no less than 5 shuttlers involved in the men's single event.


According to the Malaysia's STAR, Hafiz Hashim has been dropped from the squad participating in the Yonex All England next march. The world rank 33 would then be missing the World Championships. Misbun Sidek has let him know he was willing Hafiz to work on a training program instead of sending him out to compete in International tournaments.

DENMARK - Home celebration for in-form girls

DENMARK - Home celebration for in-form girls PDF Print E-mail
The evening session for the Denmark Interclub between Lillerod and Vaerlose - two of the leading teams in the Danish Elite division - was marked by a ceremony to welcome back two special shuttlers from Vaerløse - Tine Rasmussen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl (pictured here with Jesper Bach, the Mayor of Furesø)
Photo live by Harald Saether

The two girls have been shining on International stage, with Kamilla Rytter-Juhl as winner of the Super Series finals in Kota Kinabalu while Tine Rasmussen won back to back the Malaysia and Korea Open this sunday. "It's great because our club always celebrates us when we have good victories outside Denmark. We get flowers and good wine" said Rytter-Juhl. Rasmussen on her side didn't suffer the jetlag after her trip back from Korea and won in straight games against China's Rong Bo to confort her team mates victory 4/2.

It will be difficult however for Vaerlose to match the top two teams, Jonassen's Greve and the team led by Peter Gade, Tony Gunawan and Nathan Robertson - Team Skælskør Slagelse (TSS) who are probably going to end up as the best two teams after the regular season. Apart from the win of Vaerløse, the other ceremenoy which took place was the 17th award of the most promising player of Sjaelland, given by Poul Eric Hoyer Larsen to Maria Helsbøl. Tine Rasmussen, Martin Lundgaard and Kasper Ipsen, all present the same evening, had gotten the same award few years earlier.

KOREA OPEN Finals – Super Series gets 2 New Champions!

KOREA OPEN Finals – Super Series gets 2 New Champions! PDF Print E-mail
Lee Hyo Jung and Lee Yong Dae went on an attacking rampage to blaze to the mixed doubles gold at the 2009 Korea Open. They did not fare so well apart, however, as Denmark’s Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (pictured) and Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Wen Hsing / Chien Yu Chin each won their first ever Super Series title.

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

Korea: 2, Thailand: 0, Crowd: thousands

It was the biggest crowd for the Korea Open this decade. They had all gathered to see Korea’s doubles pairs trounce their opponents and Korea’s best had all obliged by making the finals. No spectacle was more eagerly awaited than the Olympic champions themselves, and Lee Yong Dae / Lee Hyo Jung did not disappoint.

The mixed doubles final belonged to the home pair from start to finish. The Thai pair just could not seem to grab the attack and they did not lead even once in the 23 minutes it took Lee/Lee to romp to a 21-8, 21-7 victory.

I was a little nervous at first, but it was better once we got into the game," said Lee Yong Dae at the post-match press conference. "I think with the confidence we've gained from winning the Olympics, we are making fewer mistakes and not giving away one or two points just on errors. I think that's why we've had good results at the China Open and here. Hyo Jung is still the leader out there. She is the one with the most match experience and I feel comfortable looking to her.

"I didn't want to play this match with the thoughts of the men's doubles final in the background so I tried to play as if the mixed doubles final were the only match I was playing today."

Unfortunately for both Lees, the confidence from winning the mixed doubles was not enough to carry them to the two other titles that they and the home fans were hoping for.

Cheng/Chien win Rematch to Take First Super Series Title

Lee Hyo Jung, who put in a flawless performance in the mixed doubles, seemed to return to her error-prone ways in the women's doubles final. Lee Kyung Won, too, seemed to lack that extra spring in her step that had carried the pair to a second consecutive win over Yang/Zhang the day before.

The Korean ladies looked very strong to begin with. They opened up a 16-10 lead in the first game but Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Wen Hsing and Chien Yu Chin (pictured) soon erased the gamp to tie it at 17-all. Lee/Lee then surged ahead to 19-17 but the Taiwan pair reeled them in once again, scoring four straight points to finish the game 21-19.

Two of the last three times that Cheng/Chien had played in the Korea Open, they lost to the eventual winners by falling apart in the last game and the same thing happened last week when they lost to the Koreans in the Malaysia Open semi-finals. They made no mistake this time, though, and ran away with the second game to win their third title in the past year. This was only the third time the world #3 pair - who have been in the world’s top 5 for much of this decade - had won a major title outside of Taiwan.

“The best thing that could happen”

Next up was Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung, who were looking for their fourth Super Series title in two months and who looked unbeatable in the early rounds as all of their opponents had struggled just to get into double figures and no match had lasted more than half an hour. Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen of Denmark dominated the first game, however, and no matter how loudly the crowd cheered, the Koreans just could not get on the attack. Every shot the Danes sent over seemed to drop between the net and the front service line and forced the Jung and Lee to raise the shuttle and give the Danes back the attack. Boe/Mogensen led from start to finish and closed out the first game 21-12.

The Danish pair continued to find success with this style and opened up a 12-8 lead in the second game but pushed a few shuttles into the net to bring up a 12-all. Some net mastery by Lee finally gave the Koreans a 14-13 lead but then the Koreans again gave the Danes the attack and the latter wore down their opponents’ defense to tie it up again. The game continued in this vein with the Koreans finally getting on the attack on a few occasions but mostly they were compelled to play more and more spectacular defense.

Jung/Lee (pictured) made a late rally and pulled a 3-point run to give them the game point that all expected would lead to a third and deciding game. Boe/Mogensen kep the pressure on, however, and the game went to extra points. Boe disputed a line call when one of his drives was called out at 21-all but heeded the umpire’s warnings to be silent and the Danes saved another game point to tie it back up. Two errors by the Koreans then gave the Danes the match and their first ever .

I am just so thrilled," said Boe after the match. " This morning, I didn’t expect to win because it’s incredibly difficult to beat the Koreans here on home soil. They have the line judges with them and of course they’re the best pair in the world at the moment. To beat the Koreans on home soil: that’s the best thing that could happen.

I think it’s because we play a little bit like them,” Boe said when asked how they were able to succeed, where so many fail, in troubling the Korean pair. “It’s very physical. We have a very good offense and they don’t have it so easy on defense. We don’t make so many mistakes and we can kill it. Some of the other Asians don’t hit as hard as we do.

Boe did not think any change of style was behind the Koreans’ recent success. “No. Lee Yong Dae has improved so much the last couple of years and that’s why their level is so much higher now. They play very like Koreans. They play powerful and that’s why they’re so good. They’re stronger than everybody else - maybe except us when we have a good day. I don’t feel they’ve changed so much. They’re just a few percent better all over the line.

Our strategy was to get the best out of the first four and then get the attack and then work as hard as we possibly could because we knew we could not beat them if we stayed on defense too long. Of course we had to give them the offense sometimes but mainly we had to be strict and then focus on our attack.

I think the conditions here have improved a lot. The stadium is almost full today. It’s very nice to play a full house. Even though we some line calls against us, I think the umpires and the line judges have been a lot more fair this year than last year. Of course, they still had about 3 calls that were clearly out on our side or in on their side but that’s just how it is in Korea.

After the Olympics, where we had a big disappointment, we looked at each other and said that we wanted to prove to the old national coach that he was wrong and that we could achieve great things and we did that, winning the Chinese Taipei Open just after the Olympics and then two smaller tournaments in Europe and then runner-up in China and then the victory here. I think we have proven ourselves.

Boe, who is now 28, says that he intends to play in the London Olympics, not just to watch it and that he will definitely be in the game in 2012, barring any serious injury. He says that he and Mogensen are very professional about considering their condition when choosing which tournaments to attend and that is why they skipped the Malaysia Open last week. Like all of today’s champions, the next goal for the Danes is the All England and they will decide, based on their performance there, whether to play the Swiss Open. For now, the Danes can travel back home to relish their new status as Super Series title-holders.

For complete results from the 2009 Yonex Korea Open Super Series finals, please CLICK HERE

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Taiwan duo take women's badminton title

Taiwan duo take women's badminton title

SEOUL -- Top seeds Cheng Wen-hsing and Chien Yu-chin from Taiwan defeated South Korea's Lee Hyojung and Lee Kungwon Sunday to win the women's doubles title at the 2009 Yonex Korea Open Super Series held in Seoul.

Cheng and Chien stopped their second-seeded South Korean opponents in straight sets, 21-19, 21-8.

The Taiwanese women got off to a rocky start in the first set, falling behind 11-5, but seemed more comfortable together after taking a break. The fought back to tie the set at 19-19 before closing it out by taking the final two points.

Riding the momentum of their first set comeback, the Taiwanese duo coasted past the South Koreans in the second set to clinch the title.

Cheng and Chien won US$27,000 for their efforts at the US$300,000 tournament, which featured a total of 175 men and women from 21 countries.

The team from Denmark was the biggest winner in the competition, walking away with three of the tournament's five titles — in the men's singles, women's singles and men's doubles.

The host team of South Korea only managed to win the mixed doubles event

KOREA OPEN Finals – Singles Double for Denmark

KOREA OPEN Finals – Singles Double for Denmark PDF Print E-mail
Tine Rasmussen (pictured here with runner-up Pi Hongyan) and Peter Gade took golds in the singles events at the 2009 Yonex Korea Open Super Series, the first time Denmark has done that at a tournament of this size since they won both, here in Korea in 2001. Tine’s win was not only her first at the Korea Open but it also marked the first time that she had ever won back-to-back titles.

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

Winning two singles titles at a major badminton tournament is not an easy feat for any national team. In fact, only four countries have done it this millennium and, of these, only Denmark and China have done it more than once (the other two were Indonesia at the 2001 Indonesian Open and Korea at the 2008 German Open). It was fitting that it was again Peter Gade who started things off in this return to tradition for the Danes as he was part of the other two singles sweeps by Denmark since 2000, both of them right here in Korea.

Peter Gade’s repeat championship performance, however, was by no means a foregone conclusion as he was playing world #1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, who had beaten the Dane 3 times already in one month.

The first game was close throughout. Lee looked ready to finish it when he had an 18-16 lead but Gade (pictured) hung on and had inched up to 17-18 when Lee tried to kill a loose net shot by Gade but instead hit the tape. The shuttle bounced high enough that Gade was able to take the net kill himself. Soon thereafter, Gade then earned two game points when his drop shot ticked the tape on the way over. The end change made a world of difference on this day and Lee Chong Wei took the second game easily 21-10.

On the one side, you really have to work for every point and if you’re behind it’s going to be too difficult,” explained Gade later, “so I did the same thing that I did in the quarter-final and it worked today. I decided not to use any energy and to save it to play as fast as I can in the third game. It’s not my normal way to do it, to throw away a game, but tactically, it was the right thing to do.

The strategy paid off as Gade was able to stay one step ahead of the Malaysian ace and finish off the third game 21-17.

I knew that with the rest yesterday, I would have a little extra energy to go to that speed where I’m able to beat Chong Wei. But I played well tactically on the right points and that is why I won,” said Gade. “Of course, Chong Wei is tired but I’m tired as well. It’s been such a tough schedule. So this was the last match. I just wanted to get everything out and go home to my family and to do it with a win against Chong Wei: this was one of the goals of 2009 was to beat Chong Wei so I’m very happy.

Neither of us was able to get the attack through. Normally we want to attack – both of us – but that is just the way it is in this stadium with the defense. You have to be patient. And you need to play very fast around the net. Playing the right net shots was the key and I did that. My normal way is to control and I can control with every other player except for Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei.

The crowd is very big here, and there is a lot of support but I think the key here is that Lee is not at home. When he’s at home, playing in front of 7,000 or 8,000 people, maybe he regains a little bit of self-confidence and that’s the balance. If I can beat him here, then I can beat him at All England if I can improve more than him between now and then.

Two First-time Finalists, One New Champion

As Peter Gade relaxed under the laurels of his fourth title, his compatriot Tine Rasmussen was taking the court to go after her first, but so too was France’s Pi Hongyan, in the first all-European final in Korea since Gade and Jonassen duked it out in Incheon in 2005.

The two games were very similar with Tine Rasmussen (pictured below) opening up a margin in each, only to be reeled in by the feisty Pi before standing firm and finishing it off. In the first game, Tine led 20-16 but allowed the French player to close to with one before finishing it 21-19. In the second, Pi closed an even bigger gap, coming back from 13-18 down to tie the game at 19. But once again, Tine was able to get the crucial final points to finish the match 21-19, 21-19.

Tine later revealed that the conditions made it a whole different game for both players. “The shuttles were very fast and both of us made mistakes on the back lines,” she said “and when I got a high lob, I couldn’t see a thing so I would just smash to the centre of the court and my shots weren’t as precise as usual but it was the same for both of us.

I was really happy to win in two games because I was tired mentally and physically. Of course, I should be after two amazing weeks.

I have never gone on after winning one tournament to win another. I’ve always had an injury or something so just going to the quarters made me just take it one match at a time.

I know Hongyan had a lot of confidence today because she beat Zhou yesterday and she is playing her best. But when Peter won, I think I gained some confidence and I hope our doubles pair can feel that, too,” she said, presciently.

The slightly larger prize purse at the Korea Open is a bonus that Tine says only sets in afterward, the All England being the only tournament to stand out from the crowd as a coveted trophy. This storied event is next up for both singles winners of today. With the return of the top Chinese players, Tine says that she will be doing more homework, studying videos, once the draw comes out and she sees who her opponents will be.

For complete results from the 2009 Yonex Korea Open Super Series finals, please CLICK HERE

KOREA OPEN SF - Ha-PI Days are Here Again!

KOREA OPEN SF - Ha-PI Days are Here Again! PDF Print E-mail
For Pi Hongyan (pictured) of France, 2009 has started in the best way as the world #7 followed up her semi-final appearance in Malaysia by making her first final in over a year. Her less fortunate opponent, Zhou Mi, is one of four players who had won a Korea Open title while playing for China’s national squad but who came up short today.

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

Pi Hongyan was on fire today in her semi-final against Zhou Mi. Pi was a two-time semi-finalist at the Korea Open while Zhou Mi is a two-time champion but today it definitely seemed that the tables had turned. The French player seemed so light on her feet as she glided about the court and executed her shots with precision.

“I knew how I had to play,” explained Pi after the match. “We reviewed last week’s match when we arrived here and I knew I had to be patient, use the whole court, and not leave myself open to her attacks. That worked well today. I played at my rhythm, I dictated the match and I felt good on my feet. Fatigue definitely worked in my favour because she seemed tired while I was still fresh, on account of the easier matches that I’d had earlier in the week.

Pi made a crucial comeback in the first game, where she was trailing 13-18 but dug deep and pulled the game out 23-21. Zhou led throughout the second game but Pi was the one who still had some left in the third and she came away the 23-21, 19-21, 21-12 winner.

Pi’s opponent will be last week’s winner, Tine Rasmussen (pictured) of Denmark, who had a comparatively easy 21-10, 21-11 win over Hong Kong’s Wang Chen that took only 19 minutes.

I feel so happy to be in the final again after going all the way last week,” said Tine. “I feel like I am at my old level again. It’s been a hard season but I think I’ve done the right preparation. There have been some small injuries but nothing to worry about. I think it’s a good sign that I can win one tournament and then go on to do well in the next one."

Gade vs. Lee : Round 4

The women’s singles provided more thrills, certainly, than the men’s event. Simon Santoso fell ill on Friday night and announced his withdrawal from the semi-finals on Saturday, giving Peter Gade a free pass to the final. There, he will face Malaysia’s formidable Lee Chong Wei, who had little trouble beating the Dane in their two matches in last month’s Super Series Masters Finals in Kota Kinabalu, though things were closer last week in Kuala Lumpur. This time, however, neither player will have home court advantage but Gade might just feel a little more at home. The three-time Korea Open champion has for some time been one of the few non-Korean household names among badminton enthusiasts here.

Denmark has a chance at 3 golds on Sunday, in fact, as Boe/Mogensen dominated their semi-final against Chinese Taipei's Fang/Lee. The Danish pair will attempt to prevent Korea's Jung/Lee from taking their fifth title in 2 months. In fact, it was a win over Boe/Mogensen that gave the Koreans the first of those five.

More Former Champions Bow Out

Two-time champions Yang Wei / Zhang Jiewen came up short for the second consecutive week as Lee Hyo Jung / Lee Kyung Won (pictured) looked stronger than ever. Lee Hyo Jung seemed to be using her height and strength to advantage more than in the past and rained down smashes on the former Olympic Champions.

I thought if I didn’t attack, we wouldn’t be able to win so I resolved to keep pounding away until the rallies ended,” said Lee Hyo Jung after the match.

This strategy along with the Korean pair’s overall consistency worked wonderfully in the first game but they found themselves trailing in the second as the Chinese led throughout. Lee/Lee had a perfect chance to tie the second game when, at 11-12, Lee Hyo Jung had a perfect kill opportunity but swung too early and mishit the shuttle, giving the advantage to the Chinese, who took the attack and sent each of the Korean ladies sprawling to the floor in succession. This set off a 7-point run by the Chinese from which the Koreans never recovered and they ceded the second game 18-21.

The third game belonged to the home pair and they qualified for their second straight final with a 21-16, 18-21, 21-10 victory.

Before we played in Malaysia, we were a little nervous with Lee Kyung Won coming back from injury,” Lee Hyo Jung explained. “I told her to take it easy, that we needed to make sure she didn’t get injured again.” Hyo Jung explained that she hopes to continue to partner Lee Kyung Won until the London Olympics.

Asked whether it would be possible to keep playing until 2012, Lee replied with a twinkle in her eye “Shouldn’t it be possible?

Still, the task at hand is on Sunday afternoon, when the Koreans will be going after their second Korea Open title but, ironically, playing in their first final together. The last time they won their home event, in 2005, they had a walkover in the final when Emms/Kellog were force to withdraw.

Gao Ling, herself a 3-time winner in Korea, was beaten by the top seeds in what paradoxically seemed like an upset. Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Wen Hsing / Chien Yu Chin (pictured above) won in two games over Gao/Wei 21-15, 21-17.

Thais to Mix it up with Olympic Champions

Songphon Anugritayawon / Kunchala Voravichitchaikul (pictured) of Thailand have made great strides this year and finally have ended up in their first ever final in any major tournament. They enjoyed the narrowest of two-game victories when they beat India’s Diju V / Jwala Gutta 21-19, 22-20. The Thais saved two game points in the second game before jumping ahead to secure the win.

The Thais have the unenviable task of taking on the Olympic champions Lee Yong Dae / Lee Hyo Jung in the final. Hong Kong’s Chau/Wiratama stayed closed throughout most of the first game but finally Lee/Lee pulled ahead and never looked back in the second as they roared to a 21-16, 21-11 win.

They’ll have more than just the prowess of the world’s #2 pair to contend with. Lee/Lee’s professional team, Samsung, typically brings in busloads of boisterous supporters to augment a cheering section that, this year, will no doubt be dominated by legions of young girls swooning over Lee Yong Dae.

Lee Hyo Jung said after her semi-final that Olympic success has made life significantly different. Though she hopes that the attention now focussed on Lee Yong Dae will turn into interest in all of the players and in the sport of badminton itself, she is clearly already sharing that limelight to some extent.

These days, even when I go to a public bathhouse, people recognize me and suddenly people will buy me soft drinks,” Lee admitted. The No. 2 Olympic Gymnasium has been patrolled this weekend by giant likenesses of both the Beijing gold medallists and the two original icons will no doubt be doing their best in the final to justify the attention.

For complete semi-final results from the 2009 Yonex Korea Open Super Series, please CLICK HERE

Saturday, January 17, 2009

KOREA OPEN SF – Payback for Lee and Jung!

KOREA OPEN SF – Payback for Lee and Jung! PDF Print E-mail
Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae left no doubt about their status as the world’s top pair as they rid their closet of the Danish monster, beating an under-the-weather Paaske/ Rasmussen in two quick games.

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

Any who were hoping for a competitive match were disappointed with the way the first match transpired on semi-finals day at the 2009 Yonex Korea Open. However, this is not what the majority of the spectators at Seoul’s No. 2 Olympic Gymnasium were hoping for. No, for them, the thrill of seeing Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung run roughshod over an opposing pair of any description was enough.

Jung Jae Sung, who will begin his military service on February 2nd, was elated after the win over the team that had nipped the Korean duo’s Olympic campaign in the bud.

“We were very nervous about playing them again in front of a home crowd in Korea,” said Jung after the match, “but since we were able to get the upper hand early in the match, our nerves settled in and we started to play with confidence.

“I think if we had been in a fast driving game, we would have been in trouble in this match. We experimented with a side-by-side position more instead of front and back and that seemed to give us an extra edge.”

Jonas Rasmussen offered a clear explanation of what went wrong for the visiting team today. “Lars has been sick all week,” Jonas revealed. “He was shivering during the warm-up and I brought nothing to the match. You just can’t beat this team if you don’t bring you’re A-game.

“We are happy with the result in this tournament. We did well in the first round against the other young Korean pair and we thought we might have a shot if Lars could get fresh but unfortunately it went the other way. And this is a whole different level of pair from those we were playing the rest of the week.”

Jung/Lee go on to play the winner of Boe/Mogensen of Denmark and Fang/Lee of Chinese Taipei. Lee Yong Dae will, of course, feature in the second last match of the day with Lee Hyo Jung against Chau/Wiratama of Hong Kong.

For live semi-final results from the 2009 Yonex Korea Open Super Series, please CLICK HERE

KOREA OPEN QF – Danes Win Big in Korean Quarters

KOREA OPEN QF – Danes Win Big in Korean Quarters PDF Print E-mail
Tine Rasmussen and Peter Gade (pictured) both fought through three-game matches to book their places in the semi-finals while an all-Danish final beckons in men’s doubles as both Boe/Mogensen and Paaske/Rasmussen made it to the final four for the second consecutive year. However, Jung Jae Sung / Lee Yong Dae have their sights set on breaking up the party now that they have booked their rematch with their Olympic nemeses.

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

Lightning Won’t Strike Twice for Shon as All Singles Favourites Win

After the early loss in mixed doubles, Denmark’s fortunes started to change as three-time champion Peter Gade took on Korean youngster Shon Wan Ho in the men’s singles. Gade was never really threatened in the first game and won it 21-13 but Shon ran away with the second game, taking it 21-7.

My coach Morten Frost watched the whole [Persson vs. Shon] match yesterday and we discussed it. I knew I had to be patient because he is very defensive and a very good fighter and I knew he was going to throw everything back,” Gade said afterward. “The other side of the court was a little more difficult to play on and when he started to get ahead I let go, rather than worry about trying to close it to 21-16 or something because I wanted to be sure I had enough energy in the third game.” In that third game, Gade dominated, leading start to finish and winning 21-17.

I knew I had to take my breaks and be patient because his offence is not that good. That is the case with a lot of young players, especially for Shon because he was comfortable playing at home with a lot of support. I think he will have trouble winning in different conditions, though, because his attack is not so strong.

My opponent in the first round [Park Wan Ho] seemed to be more talented, actually. I mean, for the future, he could be the next Lee Hyun Il,” Gade offered.

Gade goes on to face Simon Santoso, runaway winner over compatriot Andre Kurniawan Tedjono.

My goal in these two tournaments was to reach two semi-finals,” Gade revealed. “There have just been too many tournaments and too much travelling so I thought if I can make two semi-finals, and keep my ranking in the top five, I will be very pleased. But physically, things are good and I’m very optimistic about the future.

Still, I have won here 3 times so that would be nice to win again. I will have to be fired up to beat Simon. He is a good counterattack player.

In the last singles match of the day, Tine Rasmussen completed the set of favourites advancing to the semi-finals. Tine came back from one game down to beat Indonesia’s Adriyanti Firdasari in a match of 3 one-sided games. Firdasari’s departure leaves Simon Santoso and Lee Chong Wei as the only representatives of Indonesia and Malaysia respectively.

Denmark continued to march on as Boe/Mogensen (pictured) met the challenge of the last remaining pair in a strong Indonesian doubles contingent. It was a thrilling match of spectacular attacking play and even more spectacular defense by both sides. The crowd was roaring in amazement as all four players repeatedly returned seemingly unreturnable smashes. The Danes missed out on one match point opportunity in the second game but made sure in the third and advanced to the semi-finals with a 21-17, 22-24, 21-14 win.

Boe/Mogensen will meet Chinese Taipei’s Fang/Lee who pulled off another upset, this time in two games over Malaysia’s Choong Tan Fook / Lee Wan Wah.

Jung/Lee set for Revenge at Home

Both Jung Jae Sung / Lee Yong Dae (pictured) and Lars Paaske / Jonas Rasmussen executed their latest straight game victory to set up a meeting in the semi-finals, their first since the Danes rained on the Koreans’ parade in the first round of the Olympic Games. Jung Jae Sung is soon to start his two years of military service, something from which an Olympic medal could have exempted him.

This will be the two pairs’ first meeting with either of them having home court advantage and the rise in ticket prices for the admission to the No. 2 Gymnasium at Seoul’s Olympic Park is unlikely to keep the weekend fans away. The crowds always grow considerably in Seoul once the work week ends and as the cold snap breaks and the outdoor temperatures go up another 4 degrees, the cheering for the fans’ darling Lee Yong Dae could well reach a fever pitch. The only question is who will handle the pressure better.

For complete quarter-final results from the 2009 Yonex Korea Open Super Series, please CLICK HERE