by Ian Marshall, Editor
A contest which ebbed and flowed, considering the pedigree of Alvaro Robles and Galia Dvorak when Mixed Doubles is the subject in question, they reached the quarter-final round of the Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf, it was very much a performance of note.
“I don’t know why but I was not nervous; frankly speaking, I was enjoying the match and the atmosphere. I think I drew inspiration from the fans who were cheering us on today. We didn’t know each other before this tournament but through practice and this match, I feel that we became closer to each other. As a unified team, it makes us stronger and we can learn from each other and improve technically.” Yoo Eunchong
Undoubtedly the north and south combining has created a very special occasion; a fact of which Korea Republic’s Jeoung Youngsik is well aware.
“I am filled with so much excitement, the most since I participated in the tournament for the first time in 2008. I like this relationship with players from North Korea and I feel a positive influence from them, as well as the combined Korean cheering squad. In this Korea Open and we are a unified team. We are supporting together and the combined Korean cheering squad is cheering enthusiastically too. I hope someone will win amongst the players of the unified team.” Jeoung Youngsik
Notably, Jeoung Youngsik, who won the Men’s Singles title when the tournament was staged in Incheon in 2015, made an ideal start in his quest to regain the prized crown by beating Chinese Taipei’s Lee Chia-Sheng (11-8, 11-6, 14-12, 11-5). He clearly appreciated the fact that he was afforded quite unprecedented support
“My condition last year was bad, so I have tried to focus on my conditioning and training. I have prepared well for this Korea Open and I hope to win again this year. The combined Korean cheering squad always cheers enthusiastically for the unified team. We are all encouraging each other. First time we met, there was an awkward silence between us but now we are talking about techniques and joking with each other too. We are supporting each other now.” Jeoung Youngsik
In a very short period of time the players are all of one accord and true to the best traditions of the region there is a very healthy respect for each other; a fact underlined by Korea Republic’s Park Ganghyeon. In his opening Men’s Singles qualification encounter was beaten by DPR Korea’s Ham Yu Song (9-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9).
“First of all, this is my first time playing against a North Korean player. During the match I just focused on the match; physically I was not as strong as my opponent and mentally I was not really prepared; this is why I lost the match. I am very honoured to have played against a North Korean player. During the match, I learned a lot from my opponent. I did my best against him. I felt that it was a wonderful experience for me.” Park Ganghyeon
Notably, Ham Yu Song, progressed to secure first place by overcoming Belgium’s Cédric Nutinck, the highest rated player in the group (10-12, 4-11, 11-7, 12-10, 13-11).
However the success of Ham Yu Song is overshowed in Daejeon by the big winner, United Korea.
Meanwhile, as the day drew to an end, the qualifiers for the Men’s Doubles event were decided; Chinese pairs being very much to the fore. Notably Wang Chuqin and Xue Fei beat India’s Amalraj Anthony and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (11-8, 12-10, 11-4), Liang Jingkun and Yan An accounted for the combination of Brazil’s Hugo Calderano and Frenchman Simon Gauzy (11-4, 11-8, 11-5).
Additionally, the host nation’s Cho Daeseong and Kim Byunghyeon booked their place in the main draw as did Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting and Lin Yun-Ju. Also, there was progress for the Singapore’s Gao Ning and Ethan Poh Shao Feng as there was for three European combinations.
Belgium’s Cedric Nuytinck and Frenchman, Quentin Robinot duly advanced, likewise Germany’s Patrick Baum and Slovakia’s Thomas Keinath secured their main draw place, a feat emulated by Poland’s Jakub Dyjas who joined forces with Spain’s Alvaro Robles.
The main draw in both the Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles events commences on Thursday 19th July.