KUALA LUMPUR: South Korea made history on Saturday by ending China's 12-year stranglehold on the Uber Cup with a 3-1 victory that saw China's World No. 1 Wang Yihan sensationally lose in straight sets.
The South Koreans were expected to buckle under the might of a team that fired a massive 686 points in four ties, finishing victors in every one of their 16 rubbers and winning 32 sets while conceding just one.
But the fans sensed an upset when Bae Seung Hee, ranked 16, out-battled, out-thought and outclassed Wang in the first singles rubber and set the tone for five gruelling hours of stunning badminton from the South Koreans.
Bae, who has been impeccable after losing in the group stages, kept her cool to pip Wang 23-21 in a tense first set before pressuring her opponent into a series of errors to seal the rubber with a 21-11 win at Kuala Lumpur's Putra Stadium.
Wang, crowned world player of the year on Sunday, was uncharacteristically indecisive at the net and on four occasions let the shuttle fly over her head, expecting it to go long only to see it land inside.
“The China team is so strong I didn't have any pressure,” said a jubilant Bae, who had played Wang twice and lost twice before Saturday. “I just wanted to play and enjoy the game. Maybe that's the reason I won.”
The Uber Cup debutante had done her homework, analysing Wang's gameplay on video before the match. She said she realised pushing the ball long would be her best chance of winning.
“Wang Yihan made crucial mistakes over and over and her defensive side was pretty raw,” said Bae, who has come a long way since losing all her matches in the qualifying rounds in Thailand.
The results: Uber Cup: Final: South Korea bt China 3-1 (Bae Seung Hee bt Wang Yihan 23-12, 21-11; Sung Ji Hyun lost to Wang Xin 14-21, 21-16, 7-21; Lee Hyo Jung & Min Jung Kim bt Ma Jin & Wang Xiaoli 18-21, 21-12, 21-15; Lee Kyung Won & Ha Jung Eun bt Du Jing & Yu Yang 19-21, 21-14, 21-19 . — AFP