Badminton Life

Koreans Dominate German Open

South Korean players have emerged as genuine contenders for this week's All England Championships and May's Thomas Cup after some impressive results over the past few months.

With Lee Hyun-il leading the way, the Koreans swept the board at the recent German Open, winning all five titles on offer. Lee, who won the Korean Open earlier this year by beating China's Lin Dan in the final, took just 32 minutes to defeat Japan's Sho Sasaki 2-0 in the German final.

The world number 13, who left the national team last year but is being wooed back, is now among the hottest players on the circuit, having had a number of good wins under his belt, including one over Malaysia's top player Lee Chong Wei.

Lee's victory also enhances his chances of qualifying for the Beijing Olympic Games.

Korean women's player Jeon Jae-yeon continued her comeback from injury to beat China's Wang Yihan in straight sets in Germany. Jeon's ranking dropped to 200 after suffering a knee injury two years ago.

However, some impressive results last year saw her standing rise to 11 and her victory in Germany over? the 38th-ranked is sure to boost her ranking even more.

It was a double celebration for Lee Hyo-jung, who won gold medals in the mixed doubles and the women's doubles.

In the mixed doubles, she teamed up with Lee Yong-dae while her partner in the women's doubles was Lee Kyung-won.

Korea wrapped up the competition when Lee Jae-jin and Hwang Ji-man beat compatriots Jung Jae-sung and Lee Yong-dae 2-1 in the men's doubles final.

Team coach Kim Joong-soo was quoted as saying on "We feel more confident with the Olympics only a few months away, and the good results in singles and doubles are very meaningful."

The results also boosted the Korean camp's morale ahead of the All England Championships, which gets underway this week in Birmingham, England.

The All England is arguably the most prestigious tournament in the world and the Koreans will be looking to stamp their class on the competition.

Certainly, Lee Hyun-il will be among the favourites as he tries to continue his good form this season.

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