This week will witness the end of a legendary career. Lee Yong Dae, whose talent, appearance and celebrity status have made him one of the best known shuttlers on the badminton scene. He began his career on the Korean National Team at the age of just 15, the youngest player to ever reach the level. Lee has claimed the number 1 in men’s doubles with three different partners, Jung Jae Sung, Ko Sung Hyun, and now Yoo Yeon Seong. Lee will be remembered as an Olympic champion as well. His mixed doubles partnership with teammate Lee Hyo Jung was a tremendous success back in 2008, when they surprised the world by snatching the gold as an unseeded pair in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Lee has another Olympic bronze medal under his belt from London 2012 alongside Jung.
Lee and Yoo have set numerous records during their three-year partnership.
Lee and Yoo, the current number 1 and top seeds this week, have captured 15 tour titles during these three years and are looking to cap their glorious partnership with another crown at the home event.
Korea’s top women’s singles Sung Ji Hyun did not enter last week’s Japan Open, looking to get back with the best preparation and performance for home fans. Seeded fifth, Sung will open her title defense against Cheung Ngan Yi of Hong Kong. If they both can play to the seeding, looming in the quarterfinals is a battle between the “first singles” with Sung and Taiwanese number 1 Tai Tzu Ying. Tai did not look in her sharpest form in her first outing after Rio last week in Tokyo and hoped to up her standard in the VICTOR event.
Sung is seeking to defend her women’s singles title.
Rio Olympics bronze medalists Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan will return in action this week, too. Shin took a little warm-up last week with her previous partner Lee So Hee but they were eliminated in the opening round. Jung and Shin started their regular partnership just around this time last year, and it had been one of the fastest rising combinations in the rankings. They started out outside of the top 240 and surged into the elite 5 using less than six months. They will be the no.1 seeds at the 2016 VICTOR Korea Open and one of Korea’s best hopes to secure the victory on home turf. Jung and Shin received a bye in the first round. German pair Isabel Herttrich/ Linda Efler will post their first challenge.