KUALA LUMPUR: South Korea have been a rising force in women’s doubles in recent years.
They have three pairs in the world top 10 - Jang Ye-na-Kim So-young, Ko A-ra-Yoo Hae-won and Jung Kyung-eun-Kim Ha-na, although the latter are no longer playing together.
In terms of junior ranks, the Koreans have been equally superb with Shin Seung-chan-Lee So-hee bagging the world junior title in 2011 and 2012 before Chae Yoo-jung-Kim Ji-won added their names to the list last year.
The 19-year-old Ji-won, who is the new starlet of the team, is eager for the opportunity to make her mark at the senior stage along with partner Yoo-jung.
Besides winning the world juniors last year, Ji-won-Yoo Jung also made the semi-finals of the Korean Open GP Gold last November and it is a sign of things to come.
The pair, who are currently ranked No. 85 in the world, will have the best opportunity to show what they’re made of on the big stage as they face second seeds and defending champions Christinna Pedersen-Kamilla Rytter Juhl in the first round of the Maybank Malaysian Open.
The Danes will certainly start as favourites given their recent good form and good track record in Malaysia, having won the Super Series Finals last month as well, but the young Korean pair are unfazed and are looking to upset the odds.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to compete in this tournament ... which is a big tournament given its Super Series standing,” said Ji-won.
“Winning the world juniors last year was definitely my best achievement so far, but I want to do better at the senior level.
“It’ll be tough going up against the Danish pair who are very strong but we’ll be looking for the experience of competing in a high-level match,” added Ji-won.
The Koreans will also have three other pairs in the main draw of the women’s doubles - Ye-na-So-young, A-ra-Hae-won and the new partnership of Kyung-eun-Seung-chan.
Their hopes will lie mainly on world No. 7 and World University Games champions Ye-na-So-young, who are seeded seventh and will face Indonesia’s Nitya Krishinda Maheshwari-Greysia Polii in the first round.