BUKIT JALIL: South Korean women’s singles shuttler Bae Yeon-ju has several career highlights.
Making the semi-finals of last year’s world championships and being a part of the of victorious 2010 Uber Cup team are just two of them.
But she’s aiming for much more. The 23-year-old has two goals for this year – to break her duck in the Super Series events as well as win the gold in the Asian Games which will be held in Incheon.
The crafty left-hander, who is currently ranked seventh in the world, is well on track to achieving her first target after storming into the semi-finals of the Maybank Malaysian Open on Friday.
Yeon-ju, who hails from Gyeongsangnam, showed her mettle as she doused the challenge of 16-year-old Akane Yamaguchi 21-15, 21-16.
It was an impressive performance as the young Japanese has been on a roll, beating world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand and compatriot Minatsu Mitani in the first and second round respectively.
“I think because Yamaguchi is shorter than me I had an easier time controlling the game, especially in front of the net,” said Yeon-ju.
“I knew she had beaten several top players but I was not nervous or pressured taking her on because I have the experience.
“I’m definitely hoping to go all the way and win my first Super Series title. I’m also eyeing the Asian Games gold medal.”
Yeon-ju added that South Korea has a strong chance of reclaiming the Uber Cup which will be held in New Delhi in May this year.
“Right now there’s me and (Sung) Ji-hyun in the team but we have very good youngsters such as Kim Hyo-min and Lee Min-ji coming through,” said Yeon-ju.
“If we play with the same fighting spirit we did four years ago, I’m sure we can win once more.”
For now, Yeon-ju will focus on her semi-final match against China’s Wang Shixian. The second seed scored a comfortable 21-17, 21-19 win over Thailand’s Nichaon Jindapon on Friday.
The other semi-final will be between top seed Li Xuerui and last year’s runner-up Yao Xue, both of China.
In the women’s doubles, Japan’s Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi ended their poor run against their China opponents by beating Tian Qing-Zhao Yunlei 18-21, 21-14, 21-13.
They will face compatriots Reika Kakiiwa-Miyuki Maeda in the semi-finals.