Men’s Doubles – Korean joy for Ko Sung Hyun, Shin Baek Cheol
The SKYCITY New Zealand Badminton Open Men’s Doubles title has been won by Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol after they defeated Indonesia’s Angga Pratama and Ricky Suwardi, 21-18,
The North Shore Events Centre roof was almost lifted off by a core of Korean supporters eager to see a second compatriot win a SKYCITY New Zealand Open title after Sung Ji Hyun had earlier won the Women’s Singles title.
Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol duly obliged in a dramatic first game in which they had to come from behind from 12-8 down to take first honours.
Suwardi and Pratama, who won thrilling semi-final over eighth seeds Huang Kaixiang and Zheng Siwei last night, 21-19, 24-22, always play with swagger but this was put firmly in check by a Korean pair with more experience of the red hot pressure of a final.
The second game looked under control for Hyun and Cheol as they sped to a 5-1 lead only for Pratama and Suwardi to rediscover some much-needed resolve to draw the pairs level at 7-7 for the first time.
It was the hurry up Hyun and Cheol needed and after a series of competitively contested rallies, the Koreans regained their advantage to lead 11-10 at the interval of game two.
What happened after the restart was always going to be important and Hyun and Cheol seized the initiative winning four consecutive points to take a 15-11 lead.
It was now or never for Pratama and Suwardi who themselves needed to demonstrate their resilience by winning the next point. This they failed to do, and with the summit in their sights at 18-12, Hyun and Cheol’s thoughts narrowed in on victory.
This they achieved in fine style, dropping just one point in the process when Hyun’s smash shot flew over the advertising boards. Hyun made up for the mistake by forcing Pratama into lashing a shot into the net.
The Koreans paid tribute to their supporters in the wake of a memorable and convincing victory.
“It is great to win and particularly in front of so many of our supporters from Korea who made it feel like we were playing at home,” said Hyun.
Hyun’s partner Cheol said self-belief played a key role in victory.
“We made a slow start to the first game but we remained focused under pressure and our confidence grew as the match continued,” Cheol said.