Singapore Open: Baek/Lee Train Rolls On

The season’s form women’s pair have qualified for yet another final that they have lost count.

Baek Ha Na and Lee So Hee will contest their sixth title match of the year tomorrow against world No.1s Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan after an incredible back-from-the dead semifinal win over another Chinese tandem in Zhang Shu Xian and Zheng Yu.

Having taken the opener 21-16, Zheng/Zhang were inching towards their second successive Singapore Open final when their Korean opponents reeled off seven straight points from 17-13 down to eventually seal the second game 21-18. The world No.2s then led from start to finish, winning the decider 21-10.

“We weren’t aware of this statistic. But obviously we are delighted to be in another one,” said a surprised Lee when told about final No.6.

Asked how they stayed calm at 17-13, seasoned campaigner Lee, 28, replied: “We weren’t afraid of making mistakes when we were behind. We just went for it and were willing to be daring.”

Baek added: “In every game, the first few points are important so in the rubber, we tried to establish a healthy lead, then increase our speed. Our opponents couldn’t adapt and started committing mistakes due to the pressure we put them under with the change of pace.”

Baek and Lee have had a solid season.

Baek/Lee and Chen/Jia have one win apiece but the Koreans clinched the last encounter in the 2022 French Open first round. On current form, they are heading into battle feeling optimistic.

Lee said: “They are world No.1s but we are a solid pair ourselves. We are good at playing in a hall like this where there’s a big drift.

“That’s been our approach this season, it’s not about the opponents, it’s always about us. If we focus on playing to our strengths and maintain the rhythm we want, we should be alright.”

Baek and Lee paired up in October as an experiment but will now attempt to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games following a string of impressive results.

They have two titles – German Open and Malaysia Masters – from the previous five finals in 2023. Baek/Lee finished runners-up at Thailand Masters, All England and Badminton Asia Championships.

The win today was their 34th of the season, the most by any player or pair, and three more than compatriot An Se Young.

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