Sunday, May 16, 2010

South Korea wins first Uber Cup

The Korea ended their Uber Cup jinx in style when they dethroned China 3-1 in the final of the 23rd edition of the World Team Championships for women at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.

Winners: South Korean women team with their medals

The pumped up Koreans rose to the occasion and handed the mighty Chinese a lesson in badminton to win their first ever Uber Cup after the disappointment of losing their previous five finals – all to China.

The Koreans broke down the the Great Wall in style after winning the first singles through Bae Seung Hee and the first doubles through Lee Hyo Jung-Kim Min Jung.

Wang Xin pulled a point back for China when she won the second singles but Korea made sure the cup was theirs when second doubles Lee Kyung Won-Ha Jung Eun won the third winning point.

We've had enough of losing to the Chinese. The players were determined to break the jinx and we did it in Kuala Lumpur. We will remember the Putra Stadium and the supporters for their support,” said Korea team manager Kim Jong Soo.

It all began when Korean singles player Bae Seung Hae (world number 16) pulled an upset over China's Wang Yihan (world No. 1) with scores of 23-21, 21-11 in the first singles match.

In the first set, both shuttlers played point for point, but Bae, who seemed determined to win the game for good, took control of the second set and sent Wang running around the court.

Bae, when met after the game, said they both were under pressure of playing their first singles for their respective country, but being the underdog made her feel more relaxed and less burdened.

"I already knew that China was a strong team, but I was just focusing on getting point by point."

Bae said her strategy -- to send the ball to the far end of the court-- worked well and managed to weaken Wang's defence.

No doubt inspired by their teammate's win, doubles pair Lee Jung Hyo/Kim Min Jung (scratch pair) played aggressively against world number one Ma Jin/Wang Xiaoli with their persistent smash-after-smash attacking, thus forcing the Chinese pair to make errors like pushing the shuttle into the net or outside the court.

Ma/Wang Xiaoli beat Lee/Kim in the first set 21-18, but the Koreans overpowered them in the second and third, to win 21-12, 21-15.

However, in the third match, Korea's Sung Ji Hyun (world number 26), although fighting her hardest, had to bow to world number two Wang Xin of China in 14-21, 21-16, 17-21.

In an exciting match of the second doubles that lasted an hour and 18 minutes, Lee Kyung Won/Ha Jung Eun became Korea's heroines by beating world number two Du Jing/Yu Yang of China 21-19, 14-21, 21-19, awarding Korea its winning point.

Dejected looking Yong Bo

Korea started their Uber Cup campaign by winning over South Africa 5-0 and India 4-1 in the group ties.

After defeating Russia 3-1 in the quarter-finals, Korea overcame Japan in the semi-finals and marched on to the final to meet China.

China, who were favourites to win the Uber Cup, had moved smoothly into the quarter-finals after defeating the United States and Malaysia 5-0 in both ties.

In the quarter-finals, China easily beat India 3-0 and then face Indonesia in the semi-finals, where they also won 3-0.

In Pictures
Zhang Ning (chief women coach) and her assistant giving tips to her players Wang Xin.

China women team in pain after losing 1-3 to South Korea

Go slow: China's Zhang Ning (top) helping Wang Shixian do a stretching exercise during a training session Thursday.