Ten years of Chinese success ended in a stunning upset to challenge the Chinese women’s dominance as a young Chinese squad humbled by a resilient Korean team.
The 21-year old world #1 Wang Yihan had been tested previously by Saina Nehwal but was expected to defeat Sueng Hee Bae in the opening singles of the Uber Cup Final, but the 26-year old Korean took a shock opening game lead with a 23-21 scoreline. The second game was completely one-sided, for the Sueng Bee Hee and she completed a famous victory over China’s #1 23-21, 22-11 to give Korea a 1-0 lead.
The top Chinese partnership of Ma Jin and Wang Xiaoli was expected to level the scores, but two young players (20 and 21) were against the more experienced Kim Min Jung and Lee Hyo Jung in the first of the doubles matches. The Chinese partnership took the opening game 21-18 and was expected to win the second without trouble, only for the Koreans to bounce back and take the second game 21-12 to send it into a deciding game. The fate of an entire nation seemed to be on a very young partnership and they never came close to winning the deciding game, failing to take a lead in the deciding game and eventually losing out 21-15 to give Korea a 2-0 lead going into the second singles.
Wang Xin had to win her singles to keep China with a chance of retaining their Uber Cup title, she played Korea’s newest starlet Sung Ji Hyun, who had the chance to win the Uber Cup for Korea at just 18. Wang Xin started the better, taking the opening game 21-14 but just like in the opening doubles match, the match was levelled in the second game, with Sung Ji Hyun taking the second game 21-16. Korea were just a game away from the Uber Cup, only for Wang Xin to dominate the final game and to take the match 21-14, 16-21, 21-7.
Korea’s second chance of Uber Cup glory came with the second doubles match, between Du and Yu of China against Lee and Ha of Korea. Du and Yu came in as the clear favourites, winning the All-England this year. The Korean pair however came into the final unbeaten, without dropping a game en route. The match took on a similar theme to the previous two matches, with China taking the opening game (21-19) but like the previous two matches Korea responded by taking the second game (21-14) to set up another deciding game. Lee and Ha were in the ascendancy going into the final game but it ended up being a very tight encounter, with China leading 14-13 in the final game. Lee and Ha strung six points together to take them within 2 points of the Uber Cup, only for China to bring it back to 19-18, then the pair exchanged points before Lee and Ha took the match on their first match point to stun the Chinese pair 19-21, 21-14, 21-19 and take the third match to secure the Uber Cup for Korea.
The Women’s doubles is laden with potential Asian winners, with 4 Chinese seeds and 2 Korean seeds in the top 8. 2 Danish and a Russian seeded is the only break in the Asian monopoly this year.
2007 World Championship Winners: Wei Yang and Jiewen Zhang
2008 Olympic Champions: Jing Du and Yang Yu
Chin Eei Hui and Wong Pei Tty
Last Tournament: Malaysian Open (Finalists)
2nd Round Opponents: Emelie Lennartsson and Emma Wengberg (SWE)
The top seeds are coming into the Worlds in a good vein of form. Making the last two finals they have entered (Malaysia and Indonesia), their only defeat was against the now 6th seeds Ma Jin and Wang Xiaoli.
Their progression to the last 8 should be a simple one, before meeting Olympic Champions Jing Du and Yang Tu in the Quarter Finals.
Other Seeds to Watch:
Lee Kyung Won and Lee Hyo Jung
Last Tournament: Indonesian Super Series (Quarter Finals)
2nd Round Opponents: Chong Sook Chin and Woon Khe Wei (MAL)
The Olympic silver medalists are hoping to go one step further this year, however this year leaves little to believe they are the duo to beat this time around. No titles in 2009 and losing out consistently to higher seeds as well as unseeded couples in the finals.
Their big test will be in the Quarter Finals against Ma Jin and Wang Xiaoli.
Ma Jin and Wang Xiaoli
Last Tournament: Malaysian Open (Won)
2nd Round Opponents: Laura Choinet and Weny Rahmawati (FRA)
Their names have been mentioned in the previous two reviews, they are the form couple coming into the event with their stunning win over the top seeded Malaysians. They have also won the Indian Open in the last few months, they are definitely a partnership to watch the year.
Nina Vislova and Valeria Sorokina
Last Tournament: White Nights (Won)
2nd Round Opponents: Liu Fan Frances and Neo Yu Yan Vanessa (SIN)
The Russian couple comes in with almost no Super Series experience out with the European legs of the event. They are regulars on the EBU Circuit and with wins in their last three outings.
Their only real point of reference for most of the couples will be their matches in the Sudirman Cup, where they won all three of their matches. The second ranked couple on the EBU rankings will be one to watch this year