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Haeng-Jik Kim (25) wins his first World Cup in Porto

Posted by on July 9, 2017

Haeng-Jik Kim (25) wins his first World Cup in Porto

© Kozoom/Korea
The young Korean Haeng-Jik Kim shows his joy after his first World Cup victory

PORTO - The 25-year old Korean Haeng-Jik Kim, winner of four world junior titles, has won his first World Cup in Porto. In the FC Porto arena, the best of all the "Kim's" successfully grabbed the power. The podium had three Asians and one European, as nine players from the world's top-10 had been eliminated in the days leading up to the final. Haeng-Jik Kim got the better of Vietnamese Nguyen Quoc Nguyen in the closing match, 40-34 in 23 innings.

The new leader on the world ranking is Dani Sánchez. Four World Cups have been played in this season, won by Daniel Sánchez, Eddy Merckx, Frederic Caudron and Haeng-Jik Kim. The Asian supremacy was never this strong in a World Cup. Haeng-Jik had been in a final once before, in Luxor, but ran into Dick Jaspers on a super day. The Asian confederational champion Nguyen Quoc Nguyen was close to a WC victory for the first time in his career. The most extravert player amongst the top guns showed a great form, but hit a dry spell in the deciding stage of the final.

Winner Haeng-Jik Kim showed little emotion after his victory, at first. But when he was about to climb the rostrum, he did not hold back, jumped for joy and shouted with happiness. The stoic winner, praised for his velvet touch and mental toughness, was never in trouble during the entire tournament. On the podium next to him, were Nguyen Quoc Nguyen and the two losing semifinalists, Lütfi Cenet and Jung-Han Heo.

The match for the gold started well for Kim, who ran 9 from the spots and built up an early 17-4 lead. Nguyen, a never-say-die type of player, got back into it with runs of 4 and 9, and he even held a 20-18 lead. It was his last hurrah, because from 34-28 to Kim, Nguyen had no fewer than seven open innings. Kim crossed the line at 40-28, and Nguyen reduced his deficit with a run of 6 in the equalizer: 40-34 in 23.

Kim's race to the top in Porto started with a match against Carlos Crespo (40-19 in 19), then Sameh Sidhom (40-32 in 32), tournament revelation Wan Young Choi (40-16 in 22) and on the closing day, a win over Lütfi Cenet (40-36 in 23) and finally Nguyen Quoc Nguyen. It was the elimination of the top-5 that gave this World Cup it's surprising character. Dick Jaspers and Marco Zanetti went out as early as the first round, against Wan-Young Choi and Lütfi Cenet.

Frédéric Caudron lost in the second round, against Nguyen Quoc Nguyen, was unstoppable and made the highest run of the tournament in that match (17). Eddy Merckx missed three match points against Dani Sánchez, to lose 40-39. The Spaniard, in turn, did not survive the quarterfinal against Jung-Han Heo, who edged him 40-38. Torbjörn Blomdahl was outplayed by Lütfi Cenet (40-24).


Haeng-Jik Kim-Lütfi Cenet 40-36 in 23.

The match came to life after halftime, when both players made good runs. Cenet had a 21-18 lead after a run of 7, and he extended it to 30-19 in 14. The Korean then found his rhythm, and turned the tide with a 6 (16th inning) and an 8 (18th). He lead 37-32, but still needed five innings to finish at 40-34. Cenet had not done well in World Cups for a while, but played a good event in Porto, even though he missed after two points in the equalizer(40-36). Haeng-Jik Kim's win gives him his second ticket to a World Cup final.

Nguyen Quoc Nguyen-Jung-Han Heo 40-20 in 26.

The Korean was unrecognizable from the player he was earlier in the week. He saw his opponent run away quickly (12-3, 19-8 and 21-9), never looked like he could put up a fight, and lost without a half-chance. Vietnamese Nguyen made the winning point and showed how happy he was. For him, it meant he would play his first World Cup final.

The winner Haeng-Jik Kim with his trophy's after the final win

Haeng-Jik shows his emotions on the stage with Nguyen Quoc Nguyen, Jung-Han Heo and Lütfi Cenet


Vietnamese player Nguyen Quoc Nguyen in the final in front of the full stands in Porto

Nguyen Quoc Nguyen shows his joy after the semi-final win

Final ranking of the Porto World Cup:

1 Haeng-Jik Kim 1.680-9
2 Nguyen Quoc Nguyen 1.747-17
3 Lütfi Cenet 2.052-11
4 Jung-Han Heo 1.590-8
5 Dani Sánchez 1.966-13
6 Torbjörn Blomdahl 1.824-8
7 Anh Vu Duong 1.457-8
8 Wan Young Choi 1.411-9
9 Dong-Koong Kang 2.517-8
10 Jae-Ho Cho 2.000-10
11 Eddy Merckx 1.880-7
12 Eddy Leppens 1.590-14
13 Sung-Won Choi 1.500-14
14 Joao Ferreira 1.416-7
15 Frédéric Caudron 1.411-5
16 Sameh Sidhom 1.220-7
17 Marco Zanetti 2.352-6
18 Nikos Polychronopoulos 2.000-15
19 Dinh Nai Ngo 1.636-9
20 Javier Palazón 1.600-14.

Haeng-Jik Kim and Lütfi Cenet starting the semi-final

Nguyen Quoc Nguyen and Jung-Han Heo launch their semi-final match

The new world ranking after Porto:

1 Dani Sánchez, 422 punten
2 Dick Jaspers 360
3 Marco Zanetti 329
4 Frédéric Caudron 320
5 Haeng-Jik Kim 296
6 Torbjörn Blomdahl 290
7 Nikos Polychronopoulos 277
8 Jérémy Bury 240
9 Murat Naci Coklu 237
10 Eddy Merckx 220
11 Sameh Sidhom 220
12 Jung-Han Heo 214
13 Nguyen Quoc Nguyen 213
14 Quyet Chien Tran 203
15 Sung-Won Choi 195
16 Jae-Ho Cho 191
17 Tayfun Tasdemir 172
18 Eddy Leppens 161
19 Dong-Koong Kang 153
20 Semih Sayginer 150.



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