Korea closely missed out on the Gold Medal Match, so how will they react against Malaysia?
By Katie Garner
Players: Hung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae (Korea) versus Kien Keat Koo and Boon Heong Tan (Malaysia)
One of the best things about watching doubles, whether it is men’s, women’s or mixed, is that the speed is simply so impressive, and it’s what makes the games so exciting to watch – literally at the edge of your seat exciting. This game didn’t deliver disappointment, as right from the very first touch of the feathers, it was like lightening exploding on court with the fast pace flying to all corners of the court. The points are over so quickly, with both pairs not really building up the rallies, but instead being incredibly decisive with their play. I believe that this is one of the main difference between singles and doubles and that doubles is all about the speed and power – this game in particular was littered with smashes and drives and very little else. The shots were so low across the net, both teams of players had to work hard not to give a lift away, as that would invite a welcoming smash and potential winner all too easily.
After the first few rallies I feel that Malaysia seem to be able to be thrown out of position easier than the Koreans, unable to regain their structure as quickly, which ultimately leaves more gaps for the Korean players to aim for. However, the two pairs seem really evenly matched at the start of this bronze medal bid and from this point, I’m not entirely sure who would be able to pull away and take the win. Korea adopt a very attacking style of play, putting Malaysia on the defensive foot, but what Malaysia do particularly well is take the Koreans attacking shot and then defend so well that it transforms into their very own winner, which is so ideal for sneaking points. Malaysia’s counter attacks help them work towards some more winners but it doesn’t seem to stop the onslaught of smashes that the Koreans insistently send their way. The Malaysians try a showy between the legs shot in their desperation to lengthen the opening game, and even though the shot went over the net they couldn’t quite pull off the point!
Lee from the Korean pairing is especially good at the net and intercepts many drives to convert to winners and this helps the Koreans win the first game 23-21, having to continue to two clear points as the Malaysians were clearly not giving up without a fight. The Koreans did so well here, as they actually battled from 13-19 to win this game so they really showed their grit determination to succeed.
Korean come bursting into the second game, really raining the smashes down on the Malaysians, but their defensive play is fantastic as they manage to retrieve so many of these smashes, making the rallies much lengthier than the Koreans would want. Every smash returned gives Malaysia the chance to win the rally. This torrent of shots from Korea does appear to dishearten the Malaysians though, as at 1-6 down, I’m not really sure that they know the best way to move forward, and some of their shots are showing a bit of tiredness.
Malaysia continue to take a battering at the receiving end of the smashes, and I really admire their skills in getting so many of these shots back as they are so impossibly steep, fast and strong. They just need to be more active in producing shots that take that smashing ability away from the Koreans, but they keep clearing defensively, which only sets up the smash further. It’s so difficult to go against the momentum of the match, and at this point, it is clearly with the Koreans, with the Malaysians struggling to come up with new ideas to challenge the Korean play, as the score line hits 11-3 at the interval.
The Korean duo have all guns blazing as they attack what they no doubt see as the home straight. Their high majority precision power smashes a real weapon in their armoury. The Malaysians seem so lost with their game plan just not unfolding how they want. I believe this may be in part due to the fact that their style of play is normally very similar to the Koreans, so with both pairs using the same game plan, it’s so hard for the Malaysians to gain the lead when the Koreans are using this technique so effectively. Korea are so pumped now, knowing how touchable that bronze medal is, and Malaysia clearly seem disheartened, which can only further encourage the Koreans.
The Korean pair use their net shots very sparingly, and even then they have a purpose. The trickling net shots encourage their opponents to lift the shuttle which then provides an open invitation for their punishing smash shots. Malaysia’s defensive play seems to put the Koreans off slightly, putting them off their stride, frustrated at their persistence almost. This makes their smashes more desperate and therefore also sloppier. The rallies are also longer because of this, giving the Malaysians opportunities but it is so hard for them against such powerful opponents. I believe that the Malaysians should have made more use of the net here to help them set up some winners from their side.
Malaysia look tired and give Korea a few easy points as shots land out and in the net. Korea get given a blissful 11 match points and it is only a matter of time before Korea take full advantage of this and polish off the game with 21-10 to pick up the bronze medal in 47 minutes. The longest rally was 52 strokes long and the match used 25 feather shuttles in total.
Korea were just a complete power house force to be reckoned with in this game, as they knew what they wanted. Malaysia had a fantastic chance in the first game with quite an impressive lead, but instead of building upon it, they allowed Korea back into the game and after that it was impossible to get them back out of it again as their confidence grew and grew. Still a really great game to watch and a well-deserved medal for the Korean pair.