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(Photo: Badmintonphoto)
Korea stun champions in a final for the ages
Date: 5/14/2022 4:02 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
History was made in what will be remembered as one of the greatest Uber Cup finals of all time. The fifteen-time champions China were left exhausted and beaten by a determined Korean team.

We have seen a China-Korea final in the Uber Cup eight times before today’s clash in Bangkok. In fact, in every final reached by Korea, China has been their opponent. Korea’s sole victory and memory of lifting the famous cup was in 2010, and 12 years on, they did it again.

This final was special. Both finalists showed vulnerabilities in the group stages with losses. China lost 3-2 to Denmark, and Korea lost 3-2 to Indonesia. Despite this, the two dominant forces in women’s badminton battled in the final once again.

Chen & An light up the final
What a way to get things started with a clash between two of the brightest young stars, Olympic Champion Chen Yu Fei and Korea Open winner and Asia Championship bronze medallist, An Seyoung. Their previous encounters have been closely fought, however, Chen had a clean record of 6-0 coming into this important match. Coming from behind, An took the opening game thanks to a five-point surge, only for Chen to secure the second game in similar fashion.

An Seyoung turned up the heat in the decider, reaching a huge 13-5 lead. That was quickly whittled away by Chen, making it 15-15. Both warriors were running on their final reserves. An clawed her way to 20-17 match point. But agonisingly, Chen Yu Fei strung together five points in some exceptional exchanges to win the first point for China, 17-21, 21-15, 22-20 in 91 minutes.

Lee/ Shin pull out vital win
With the opening match setting the standard, the next match was ‘only’ the repeat of the 2021 World Championships final, Lee Sohee/ Shin Seungchan against Chen Qing Chen/ Jia Yi Fan. Once again, China came in with a clean record, five matches, five wins.

Chen/ Jia bossed the opening game and began the second game strongly. However, team matches have a different feel to them. With the Korean team shouting their support after every point, Lee/ Shin were able to turn the tide and force a decider. Chen/ Jia once again started the final game well, but Lee/ Shin had the belief from the previous game that they can do it, and they did. A pivotal victory, 12-21, 21-18, 21-18, to level the tie at 1-1.

He Bing Jiao to the rescue
He Bing Jiao has perhaps turned a corner, going from exceptional talent in flashes to becoming a reliable force in women’s singles. The winner of the German Open and Korea Masters, both with final wins against Chen Yu Fei, is stepping it up in 2022.

In Bangkok, she has been faultless and when China needed a win against Kim Gaeun, she delivered it without a fuss, 21-12, 21-13, making it 2-1 in the tie and only one more point to a sixteenth championship win.

Scratch doubles is fun
One of the great things about team championships is that fans can see different partnerships. This was the case on both sides of the net when Kong Heeyong/ Kim Hye Jeong took on Huang Dong Ping/ Li Wen Mei.

In the opening game, Kong/ Kim set up three game points and lost them all. After recomposing themselves, they won the next two to record the first game. In the second, the two doubles specialists were more careful to maintain the gap and won 22-20, 21-17 to leave it down to the final match to decide the champions.

It’s as SIMple as that
Sim Yujin, ranked 46 in the world, before the Uber Cup, had not won a match in 2022. Lost first round in the Korean Open, Asia Championships and also at the Korea Masters, to her opponent in the final, Wang Zhi Yi.

Wang is the freshly crowned Asia Champion, announcing herself as the new Chinese talent. It all pointed to a China win. However, it became quickly obvious that Sim was not going to make it easy. The opening game was a game of swapping the lead all the way to 20, where Sim lost three game points to then gift Wang a few of her own. After squandering a total of seven game points, Sim finally got over the line on the eighth attempt.

Wang bounced back strongly, and although flagging a little towards to end, it went to a decider. It was instantly apparent that the grueling physical match was taking its toll on Wang and Sim managed to reach at one point a 13-1 lead. Wang did what she could but Sim sensationally secured Korea’s second Uber Cup with a 28-26, 18-21, 21-8 win.

Sim looked back at her team, smiled and opened up her arms to welcome her onrushing teammates and together celebrated this extraordinary victory. A day to remember.
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