Chen Long and Sung Ji Hyun emerged singles champions at the Victor Korea Open 2015 that concluded today. China and Korea shared final day honours with two titles each, while Indonesia claimed the Women’s Doubles with Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari (featured image) winning their first World Superseries title. It was Sung’s Women’s Singles encounter against China’s Wang Yihan that was the most closely-fought final.
In a riveting match, Sung repeated the result of the only other Superseries title she had won – the Victor Korea Open 2013. Since that debut win, it has been lean pickings for Sung on the MetLife BWF World Superseries circuit. Today the Korean showed not only her skill, but her great tenacity in the face of adversity.
Having survived a draining semi-final against Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi, Sung was once again required to dig deep after Wang equalised a first-game deficit. The Chinese looked sluggish early on and had trouble with her length, but once she settled in, she set a furious pace that had Sung in a reactive mode. Sung’s defensive skills stood out; moving with feline grace, she allowed Wang few outright winners.
The Korean showed she was made of stern stuff by winning a 29-shot rally with a smash winner to inch ahead 16-15. The last few points were all marathon affairs, with Sung throwing herself at all of Wang’s probing strokes that dragged her from one corner of the court to another. The Chinese eventually cracked on the first match point as she sent a smash wide – 21-14 17-21 21-18 – on the 87th minute.
“My training has improved and I think in particular my mental strength has improved and I’ve become more confident. In my on-court training, I train with the men and that has helped with my shot speed, for example, and I think that has made the difference,” said the winner.
China’s Chen Long had it all his way in the Men’s Singles final against India’s Ajay Jayaram. The defending champion set the terms of the encounter and his opponent could do little to stem the flow. Chen was able to pick off points at will with his smash – most went unanswered – as Jayaram could not maintain the length required to keep the champion from employing his monster smashes. The 21-14 21-13 result took just 39 minutes.
“I couldn’t get a good length; he was everywhere and it wasn’t easy,” said Jayaram, who was in his first Superseries final. “When it didn’t go to plan, I cracked, I started lifting too much. He’s got a good reach, you don’t get points easily, and he’s accurate. I had to control the net, I did to some extent, but couldn’t go all the way.”
The opening Men’s Doubles match expectedly went the way of Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong. Their opponents in the all-Korea final, Kim Gi Jung and Kim Sa Rang, fought spiritedly in the first game but Lee and Yoo had all the answers. Lee and Yoo closed it out 21-16 21-12 in 52 minutes.
It was an emotional victory for Indonesia’s Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari in the Women’s Doubles final over local hopes Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee. The title was their first ever Superseries win after years of trying and finishing second best. Polii was indefatigable from the back court, and it was persistent jump smashes that broke the Korean defence. Chang and Lee stayed close in the first game but a service fault call seemed to affect them and they trailed for most of the second. They made a late comeback, winning a sensational 64-shot rally for 18-19, but the Indonesians shot ahead at the death: 21-15 21-18. “We’ve worked so, so hard for this. This has come after years of trying,” said Polii.
“We’re so glad that we can finally get a Superseries title, after maybe ten years, since I’ve been in a final here in 2006. Now we are thankful that we can win a Superseries. My coach (Eng Hian) is very smart, I have to say that. His personality, his aura, made us win. We’ve made a breakthrough for Indonesian Women’s Doubles.”
China’s Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei clinched their fourth Superseries title this year with yet another impeccable performance over Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir, 21-16 21-15. The Indonesians, looking to avenge their heart-breaking loss to the Chinese in the semi-finals of the TOTAL BWF World Championships, had a bright phase for a while in the opening game, with Ahmad’s smashes in particular carrying sting, but a fluffed smash from Natsir at the net and the rock-steady defence of the Chinese seemed to drain out their self-belief. By the second game there was never a doubt of the outcome, with Zhang and Zhao stonewalling the Indonesians’ attack with ease and picking out their winners at will for a 21-16 21-15 result.
“I don’t really count the titles I’ve won, but I’m happy and I will try to get more,” said Zhao, about her title-winning run. “I don’t know why exactly we have been dominating, but we are vulnerable too – we lost last week in Japan.”