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Seoul crowd starts to roar early

It was late in the day but early in the week when the crowd at the 2012 Victor Korea Open began to swell both in numbers and in volume as players battled for the largest prize purse among the five OSIM BWF Superseries Premier events.

Jung-Lee (Day 2 - rotator)At around 8 on Thursday evening, all three courts at the first 2012 OSIM BWF World Superseries Premier event featured tough second-round contests for Korean favourites, three-time champions Jung Jae Sung / Lee Yong Dae (pictured right) in particular.

Actually, though, it was Lee Hyun Il who started to get the spectators’ hopes up when he cruised to a 21-11 first-game win over Lin Dan, in the two stars’ first meeting since their controversial final in Seoul in 2008 where the Chinese was shown a yellow card during the final for misconduct.

Things began to look dire when Lin Dan evened the score against Lee and, in the next court, Jung/Lee trailed Indonesia’s Alvent Yulianto Chandra / Hendra Aprida Gunawan in their second game.

However, the crowd roaring began when Jung/Lee finally pulled level at 18-all and it reached a fever pitch when they nailed the second game home 21-19 to keep their hopes alive.

Just moments later, Ha Jung Eun smashed down the final point to give her and Kim Min Jung the win over China’s Cheng/Pan.  Unfortunately, the euphoria couldn’t give Lee Hyun Il the boost he needed to overcome his 7-13 deficit and he went on to cede the decider to the defending champion.

Jung and Lee, meanwhile, made sure that the deciding men’s doubles game was a comfortable anti-climax for their fans and they wrapped up the come-from-behind victory 16-21, 21-19, 21-13.

Lee Yongdae (Day 2)“At first, Jae Sung and I let our concentration slide and we started to make too many errors,” explained Lee Yong Dae after his match.

“Jung Jae Sung’s shoulder is still not 100% so we can’t play with the formations we are used to but we’re accepting that we have to adapt and play differently and we still feel we can produce results.”

Lee Yong Dae (pictured left with Pi Hongyan and Peter Gade) was in the spotlight for most of the day, in fact.  Even before he and Ha Jung Eun won their mixed doubles match, he had been on court to present two cheques to thoughtfully chosen charities.

Lee presented one cheque for 25 million won to the Korean Elementary School Badminton Federation to be used for the development of young badminton players and another for 10 million won to the France-based Solibad foundation, for use in its various international charity projects.

“I feel that I have a good opportunity to help,” said Lee, “as I too worked at becoming a top athlete through difficult circumstances and I wanted to make a donation to up-and-coming badminton players to encourage them to try their best in their sport.

Issara-Jongjit (Day 3)“With Solibad, too, I am aware that there are people in difficult times throughout the world and I am committed to helping in the effort when I have the opportunity.

“All of this, along with the crowd support playing in our home country, really made me want to win today.”

Men’s doubles had already seen a few other near upsets earlier in the day. 2008 champions Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng faced match point against Thailand’s Bodin Issara / Maneepong Jongjit (pictured right) before winning 22-20 in the decider. The energetic Thais’ valiant struggle against the mighty Chinese still captured the afternoon crowd’s attention and support.

Meanwhile, the actual upsets came when Fang/Lee of Chinese Taipei and Fuchs/Oliver of Germany took out the struggling veteran pairs of Koo/Tan and Kido/Setiawan respectively.

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