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 draw for the second Super Series of 2010 has been made, with Lin Dan put in as the number 2 seed for the event but has pulled out of the competition before the start of play, Brice Leverdez takes his place in the main draw. Pullouts from the seeded players, leaves Peter Gade as the only seed left in the decimated bottom half of the draw in the Men’s Singles.
Simon Santoso (seeded 6) and Sony Dwi Kunncoro (seeded 7) have also pulled out of the bottom half of the draw. However, the bottom half of the draw is still laden with outstanding players and the match of the first round takes place in the quarter of the draw that Lin Dan was meant to play in, between Chen Long (seeded 7 last week) and Boonsak Ponsana (seeded 8 last week).
A potential Lee Chong Wei against Park Sung Hwan clash awaits in round 2 this week, the Korean was seeded 5 last week and reached the semi finals of his home tournament. Taufik Hidayat plays Jan O Jorgensen in another sensational opening round clash, with Jorgensen hoping to continue his outstanding form from 2009. With the winner of the match having a potential quarterfinal match with Bao Chunlai.
2009 World Champion Lu Lan has also pulled out of the Women’s Singles; the 6th seed is the only seeded player not taking part this week. If top seeded Wang Yihan wins her opening match then the possibility of playing the Korean Super Series winner could await her in Round 2 in Wang Shixian. Last week’s beaten finalist Sung Ji Hyun has taken Lu Lan’s place in the main draw and will play Bulgaria’s Linda Zechiri in Round 1.
In the Men’s Doubles, Lee and Jung are seeded 2 as they look for Super Series title number two of 2010. Cai and Fu are not present this week but Koo and Tan return to Super Series action as top seeds in the draw. 3rd seeded Kido and Setiawan are also not playing this week, pulling out before day 1. Lee and Jung start on Wednesday night with Hoon and Ong of Malaysia whilst Koo and Tan will be on court at the same time against Dasuki and Sukmawan of Indonesia.
The Women’s Doubles is only missing the 5th seeded Maeda and Suetsuna of Japan, but a return to the Chinese dominance is expected with Ma and Jin taking the top seed and Du and Yu seeded 2 in the event. Last week’s beaten finalists Fujii and Kakiiwa are seeded 7th and local interest in the this competition will come from the 3rd seeded Chin and Wong.
In the Mixed Doubles, Lee and Lee retain the top seed after last week’s shock defeat in the opening round. Seeded 2 are Indonesia’s Widianto and Natsir whilst current world champions Laybourn and Rytter Dahl come into the tournament unseeded, further bolstering the reputation of quality partnerships in mixed doubles. Anthony Clark begins 2010 with a new partner in Heather Olver after Donna Kellogg’s retirement last year; they begin their 2010 season against 7th seeded Polish pairing Mateusiak and Kostiuczyk.
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