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Korean Men Going Strong in Badminton

By Kim Hyun-cheol
Staff Reporter
Three South Korean male badminton players advanced to the third round of the singles at the All-England Open Championships in Birmingham on Wednesday.

Lee Hyun-il, 23rd in the world rankings, beat ninth-seeded Xia Xuanze of China 15-9, 15-11 in the first round and went on to win over fellow Korean Park Sung-hwan 15-2, 15-6 in his second match.

Former world No.1 Lee, who was in a serious slump throughout last year, showed he is getting back on track, and will meet 26th-ranked Sairul Amar Ayob of Malaysia for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Athens Olympics silver medallist Shon Seung-mo also made it to the round-of-16 by beating Arif Rasidi of France and Pedro Yang of Guatemala in straight sets.

Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia is not playing in Birmingham, and Sohn next meets fourth-seeded Chen Hong of China. He beat Chen in the Olympic quarterfinal in August 2004.

Ahn Hyun-suk, ranked 71, is making a major impact. The 21-year-old Korean defeated 11th-seeded Bjoern Joppien of Germany 15-5, 15-10 in the first round, and followed this with a 10-15, 15-12, 15-7 win over world junior champion Chen Jin of China.

Ahn meets another Chinese player, the fifth-seeded Bao Chunlai, in the third round.

South Korean players have also been doing well in the doubles. Led by the eighth-seeded Ha Tae-kwon and Yim Bang-eon, four men’s pairings reached the second round while in mixed doubles, Lee Jae-jin and Lee Hyo-jung also won their first round match.