Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong teetered on the brink of disaster before pulling off one of their most memorable triumphs to claim the BWF Destination Dubai World Superseries title.
China’s Chai Biao and Hong Wei very nearly ambushed the Korean duo, but Lee and Yoo pulled themselves together when it mattered and edged past: 19-21 21-19 21-16.
Despite a sizeable crowd rooting for them, the Koreans appeared uncharacteristically nervous throughout the first game. Unlike the infallible defence they demonstrated in previous matches, both Lee and Yoo looked rusty and out of sorts. They saved two game points before Hong Wei unleashed a smash that caught Yoo by surprise.
A fidgety Lee had committed numerous errors, while Yoo was less imposing from the back compared to Hong Wei. The Chinese were able to kill the rallies off the second or third smash.
The second game was tense, with Korea getting narrow leads but China pulling level. Although he was below his best, Lee still came up with gems that sparkled, but a misjudgement at the baseline and a fluffed kill at the net helped China to 19-all.
Eventually, it was another fine backhand net winner from Lee that helped Korea take the match to a decider, in which the Koreans were back to their best. Lee once again demonstrated his great craft, darting to the forecourt and directing the play. Chai and Hong were caught in a quicksand with the match slipping away at 19-11.
If the Koreans expected to finish the match quickly, they were mistaken, for Hong refused to buckle, and the Chinese duo grabbed five straight points before Lee and Yoo slipped past.
“To be honest, we weren’t at 100 percent in the first game,” said Lee. “We knew we just had to win one game and then we would be back on track. I really wanted to win in Dubai and this ranks as one of our best wins. We knew Chai and Hong are a very aggressive pair; they’re getting better all the time.”
The win no doubt eased the disappointment of two major final losses that Lee and Yoo had suffered.
“Of course we were dissatisfied after losing the World Championships and Asian Games finals, but we tried to forget it and wanted to start afresh,” said Yoo.
For today’s results, click here.