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Volkswagen Open Korea 2005: a first for Oh Sangeun

Thursday 30 July

Volkswagen Open Korea 2005: a first for Oh Sangeun

Responding to home support, the player in form at the Volkswagen Open Korea, staged in Suncheon from Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th June 2005, was Oh Sangeun.

The number four seed, he secured the men’s singles title, his first on the ITTF Pro Tour.

Exercising superb control, he proved himself the most consistent player on duty, attacking from both backhand and forehand with equal effect, whilst also being able to absorb the ferocity of an opponent 's attacks when the occasion demanded.

En route to the final he was never extended the full seven games distance but never won in straight games. In the opening round he beat the impressive Japanese teenager Taku Takakiwa in six games, in round two he defeated his colleague Choi Hyunjin in five games, then in the quarter-final he accounted for the very dangerous left hander, Lee Jungwoo, in six games.

The predicted place in the draw duly reached, he overcame the top seed Ryu Seungmin in the semis in five games, the third game being the watershed. Oh Sangeun won the first, lost the second and then won a marathon third game 20-18; the next two games were close (11-9, 10-12, 20-18, 11-7, 11-9) but control exerted by the number four seed proved crucial and a place in the final was duly reserved.

In the final Oh Sangeun faced Lim Jaehyun, also of Korea Republic and the number fourteen seed. The latter, a player with a style similar to Oh Sangun had excelled all expectations to reach the final. In the opening round he had beaten Ryusuke Sakamoto of Japan in five games, a win that laid the foundations for his future exploits. "It was a very good performance ", said Korean coach, Yoo Namkyu." Sakamoto was a very difficult opponent and beating him gave Lim Jae Hyun confidence."

It was a success that certainly gave the twenty year old Korean self-belief . In the second round he beat second seed Chuang Chih-Yuan in seven games with the final game seeing Lim Jae Hyun forge ahead 8-4; then lose the next six points before winning the next four to secure victory.

"The problem for me was a mental one", said Lim Jaehyun. "I was playing a famous player, it's the first time I've ever beaten anyone in the top ten of the world rankings.”

Victory and another confidence boost for Lim Jaehyun; in the quarter-finals he beat Christophe Legout of France in six games and then in the semi­final ousted the 2003 World champion, Werner Schlager, by the same margin.

However, in the final whatever Lim Jaehyun could do, Oh Sangeun could do better and duly won in four straight games; furthermore, he had won playing only one opponent not from his own country, Japan's Taku Takakiwa in round one; all other opponents had been Korean.

The consolation for Lim Jaehyun was that he won the under 21 men’s singles title beating colleague, Jo Jihoon in the final; runners up spot for Jo Jihoon, partnering Kim Taehoon it was the same in the men’s doubles. The pair suffered in the final at the hands of Lee Jungwoo and Ryu Seungmin.

Notable young names and high hopes but none really fulfilled the potential displayed; none progressed to succeed at the very highest levels bar one. The exception was the young man who on the first day of the tournament celebrated his 16th birthday and in the second round of the men’s singles extended Ryu Seungmin, at the time at the height of his career, the full seven games distance.

The teenager in question, a certain Jun Mizutani.


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