Korean pair beat No. 1 Danes
Lee and Ko, ranked No. 10 in the world, rallied to defeat Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen, 2-1 (19-21, 21-13, 21-10), at the final of the Korea Open held yesterday at SK Handball Gymnasium at Olympic Park, southeastern Seoul.
“Sung-hyun has not held the world No. 1 ranking once,” said Lee, referring to his partner since the 2012 London Olympics. “I want to take the No. 1 position (with him). And I want to win the world championship (with him) as well.”
Lee, 24, who won a gold medal in mixed doubles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, reached No. 1 with Jung Jae-sung. Lee and Jung parted ways after their bronze medal performance at the London Games.
Lee’s transition to his new partner has been smooth: He and Ko, 25, have won doubles titles at four consecutive international events, three of them in the past three weeks.
It was Lee’s first men’s doubles victory in two years at the Korea Open, which he won in 2010 and 2011 with Jung.
Yesterday’s victory was especially sweet for Lee and Ko, who lost to Boe and Mogensen in the China Open last November.
The Danish team also beat Lee and Jung in the semifinals at the London Olympics.
“We were under a lot of pressure because I had never beaten Boe and Mogensen in seven matches,” said Ko. “If we complement our defense a bit, we will be able to do better from now on.”
At Saturday’s semifinal, Lee and Ko beat the world’s No. 2 pair, Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong of Malaysia, 21-17, 21-11.
Later yesterday, Sung Ji-hyun earned another gold medal for the host country, beating Wang Shixian of China, 2-0 (21-12, 22-20), in the women’s singles final.
She was the first Korean champion in women’s singles at the Korea Open since Jun Jae-youn won in 2005.
Sung, 21, whose world ranking was No. 7, improved her record against Wang to two victories against three losses.
The Korea Open is the world’s richest badminton tournament, with $1 million in total prize money this year. It is one of five Super Series Premier events run by the Badminton World Federation. The others are the Indonesia Open, Denmark Open, All England Open and China Open.
At last year’s Korea Open, the host country failed to win any title, while China triumphed in four of the five events.
Also yesterday, Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang defeated Ma Jin and Tang Jinhua, 2-0 (21-17, 21-13), in the all-Chinese women’s doubles final.
Wang and Yu, the No. 1 seed, broke a 17-17 first-set deadlock with four straight points. They were in full control in the second set, charging out to an 11-3 lead en route to their second Korea Open title in three years.
Along with two Korean pairs and an Indonesian team, Wang and Yu were disqualified at the London Olympics last year for attempting to purposely lose round-robin matches to set up a favorable draw in the knockout stage.
Cleared by the Chinese authorities to compete right away, Yu and Wang have captured three of the four tournaments since the Olympics.
By Moon Gwang-lip, Yonhap [email@example.com]