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Korea to battle Japan in men’s doubles final

Youngsik and Sangsu to clash with Morizano, Oshima


The partnership of South Korea’s Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu has so far been rewarding at the Seamaster Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Doha as the duo marched into the final of the four-day competition after overcoming the challenges of Alexey Liventsov and Mikhail Paikov of Russia on Saturday.

In what was one of the most exciting games of the competition, the match ended up being decided in seventh set after an exhilarating back and forth game in which none of the teams were ready to concede defeat.

In the end, a champion has to emerge and this time the honour fell on the Koreans who went home smiling after posting a 4-3 (8-11, 12-10, 10-12, 11-4, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7) result.

Speaking after the match the 26-year-old Sangsu said, “I was very nervous in the match, especially after we missed a lot of balls and we were losing; then Youngsik stepped up the game and played excellently and we managed to level the score. At three-two, losing 9-10, the ball broke, we thought the ball broke after the rally, so we should be given the point but Liventsov and Paikov said that the ball broke during the rally and that point shouldn’t be counted. The umpire and referee decided that we had to replay that point, we are fine with that decision.”

This is not the first time of winning under pressure for the Korean pair at this tournament. They had faced similar situation on the first day of action against Japan’s Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura, the number seven seeds before overcoming (11-6, 4-11, 10-12, 16-14, 14-12, 9-11, 16-14).

On Saturday, however, there were two crucial stages in the contest, in the sixth game Liventsov and Paikov led 10-9; the next point was awarded to the Koreans. However, Liventsov explained to the umpire that the ball had broken; the referee was called and it was decided, as the ball had broken during the rally and thus the point should be replayed.

The Russian duo duly won the game and went ahead 3-1 in the seventh; no controversy but the next crucial stage. Youngsik and Sangsu won the next seven points before the Russians reduced the arrears to 8-6. The Koreans then called “Time Out” and thereafter won the next point and reasserted their authority.

The winning pair will now face another Japanese challenge in the pair of Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima, the top seeds and defending champions who won their match against Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit and Tang Peng 4-1 (7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-4, 11-9).

While the Korean men advance, it was however a different story entirely for their compatriots in the women’s doubles as the top seeds Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun failed to make the final cut on Saturday after suffering a (13-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7) defeat in the hands of Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching.

It was a repeat performance for the Hong Kong duo as they had defeated the Koreans after a five-set game in the final in Croatia in May.

The season-ending final match on Saturday will now be played between the Hong Kong players and the Japanese duo of Yui Hamamoto and Hina Hayata, the number seven seeds who defeated their compatriots Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato (8-11, 12-10, 11-13, 11-5, 12-10, 11-6) earlier in the day.

The final of the Men’s Doubles event will follow the Women’s Doubles final on Sunday 11th December; the Women’s Doubles final is scheduled to start at 1.30pm (local) time; Doha is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

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