In what turned out to be an epic battle, South Korea stunned defending champions China to win badminton’s prestigious Uber Cup on Saturday in an epic battle that went down to the wire in Bangkok.
China, the most successful side in the tournament, were aiming for a 16th title in the women’s world team championship. But Korea finished things off in a thriller claim their second title and the first in 12 years.
Here’s a quick recap of the match:
Thriller to start
China out to an early lead in the tie when Chen Yufei sealed a spectacular come-from-behind win against An Seyoung in a marathon match full of drama.
Chen, the world number three and Tokyo Olympic gold medallist, went down 21-17 in the opening game to fourth-ranked An. An built a five-point lead early in the second game but Chen roared back to take that game 21-15 and sealed the decider 22-20 despite suffering an injury scare to her ankle.
An, who is still only 20, had her own problem with cramp in her right hamstring and both players collapsed on the court in exhaustion after 91 minutes of gruelling action.
A disappointed and emotional An, who triumphed over top-ranked Japanese star Akane Yamaguchi a day earlier, said she was worried she had let down her team-mates.
“I tried my best, as much as I could... I was at 20 points but then I lost control,” she said after missing out on three match points.
With the win Chen extended her record against An to 7-0.
A stunning doubles turnaround
Then it was another case of a Korea vs China battle where the H2H was overwhelmingly in favour of China. Lee Sohee and Shin Seungchan had never defeated Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan.
The Koreans won against their Chinese nemesis for the first time ever, coming from a game and 6-11 down 12-21 21-18 21-18.
He Bing Jiao puts China back in front
Kim Gaeun pulled off a stunning semifinal win against Nozomi Okuhara, but He Bingjiao was in complete control in this match to put China 2-1 ahead.
Another doubles win for Korea
Emotions ran high after Kim Hye Jeong and Kong Heeyong against Olympics mixed doubles champion Huang Dong Ping and her new partner Li Wen Mei 22-20 21-17 in nearly an hour.
A new hero
With the countries deadlocked at 2-2 it all boiled down to a singles match between China’s 15th-ranked Wang Zhiyi and 46th-ranked Sim Yu-jin. Sim, who turned 23 on Friday, sprang an upset by beating Wang 28-26, 18-21, 21-8 in a thrilling 88 minutes – and with it South Korea’s first Uber Cup crown in 12 years.
Sim Yu Jin’s only senior title so far in international circuit was the Norwegian International Championships 2018 (where she actually defeated Korea’s SF hero Kim Gaeun). Today, she is the Uber Cup clincher for Korea against the mighty China.
Sung Ji Hyun, a winner for Korea as a player in 2010, was in tears too after coaching the side to a huge win.
With reporting inputs from AFP