Stars Spotlight

Last Korea Open a rough patch for Jung Jae Sung

Korean men's doubles star Jung Jae Sung has been playing at his home Open every year since the beginning of the millennium.

Jung-Lee (Final - rotator)The 29-year-old made his first waves here back in 2005, when he and then partner Lee Jae Jin, charged with filling the void left by six of Korea’s doubles veterans who had all retired, had beaten the defending champions and world #1’s in the second round, before falling in the semi-finals.

Jung won his first Korea Open back in 2007 in his second outing at home with current partner Lee Yong Dae. Since then, they have reached four more finals and won two more titles.

Perhaps their biggest win came in 2010. With Lee Yong Dae nursing an elbow injury, the Koreans played a thrilling final against China’s Cai/Fu, who had beaten them in the 2009 World Championship final, and pulled off their second title. At the time, Jung dedicated the victory to his mother, who had died in late ’09 and who he insisted was there to watch them win.

In 2012, though, the three-time champions couldn’t find a way past the world #1’s and had to let the men’s doubles title at the 2012 Victor Korea Open, one of five OSIM BWF World Superseries Premier events, sail back to China with 2008 champions Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng.

MD (Final)“I really wanted to win because this is my last Korea Open - as I’m retiring after the Olympics - and I’m happy to reach the final,” said Jung Jae Sung after his match.

“But Cai and Fu really wanted to win too and we weren’t able to play at the level we have had to to beat them.

“Cai and Fu are really the ones with a lot of experience playing for the big points in big events so it’s so hard to hold them off.”

Jung Jae Sung has been struggling with a shoulder injury since late last year but he was still taking on more attacking duties than he did in his last two tournaments.

“I’ll be staying home from the Malaysia Open next week. I’m going to start some rehabilitation for my shoulder and other problems. I should have a good month and a half to heal up and rest and I hope to be ready for the All England and other European tournaments in March.”

Jung Jae Sung is the highest profile player to have had his career interrupted, to a degree, by his military service, a compulsory right of passage for all young Korean men.

Jung-Lee (Final)However, he had two chances to earn exemption, once in the 2006 Doha Asian Games, when he and Lee lost narrowly in the semi-finals, and then again at the Beijing Olympics, where this last chance feeling compounded the already overwhelming pressure experienced by any Olympian. Gold at the former and any medal at the latter would have spared him the two-year obligation.

In the end, Jung was able to continue playing internationally but basic training kept the duo from defending their All England title in 2009 and from maintaining their world #1 ranking that spring.

This time around, his last Olympics will merely be exactly that: a final shot at the most coveted piece of gold.

“I started to realize last September that each event I played, I was playing for the last time and I think that made be give just a little bit more.

“We only have a few tournaments left before the Olympics, now, though, and although I hope to do well and leave some great memories in all of them, the Olympics are my number one goal and that’s what I’m focussing all my efforts on from here on.”

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