FORMER Malaysian coach Li Mao of China is now the mastermind behind the rise of the Korean women’s singles players.
Yesterday, one of his charges Bae Youn-joo made a remarkable comeback after a six-month break from injury to stun top seed Wang Yihan of China 17-21, 21-13, 21-19 in 63 minutes to reach the Malaysian Open final.
It is the second time that South Korea will have a finalist in a Super Series. Just a week ago, youngster Sung Ji-hyun stole the show when she made the final of the Korean Open.
Today, Youn-joo, the 2007 World Junior championships runner-up, will take on China’s Wang Xin in the final. And she will be out to end a two-year wait for a women’s singles title. The last player to have won a title was Jun Jae-youn at the 2008 German Open.
The 20-year-old Youn-joo attributed her success to two coaches – Li Mao and South Korean Kim Ji-hyun.
“Our coach Li Mao has been the key person in the rise of the South Korean women players. He has been influential in teaching us how to master the net game,” said Youn-joo.
“Our coach Ji-hyun just joined us a month ago. She has been great in teaching us how to control the game.
“I was better at the net today and did well to take control of the game during the crucial stages. These are the reasons behind my first ever win against Wang Yihan today,” she said.
Youn-joo said after yesterday’s win, she is hopeful of winning a medal at this year’s Asian Games in Guangzhou.
“I joined the national team in late 2007. But I could not represent the country at last year’s Sudirman Cup because of a calf injury. Only in December, I returned to the national squad,” she said.
“This is a great start and hopefully, I will be able to keep at it – in getting the better of players from China,” she added.