The best players in the world begin their first trip of Europe for 2011 with a three event tour starting this week in Germany as the world’s elite play themselves into form ahead of the All-England Championships in two weeks time.
There is no Peter Gade, Taufik Hidayat or Lee Chong Wei this week but there is a Chinese presence in the men’s singles, punctuated with the top seed and Korean Open Premier Series winner Lin Dan. World Champion Chen Jin is also in the draw and is seeded to meet Lin Dan in the final. There is also home interest in the 6th seed Marc Zwiebler as well as a wrath of talent from Asia in the draw like 3rd seeded Boonsak Ponsana and 4th seeded Park Sung Hwan.
The “Big Four” of the womens singles are not present in the draw this week, opening up the opportunity for a home victory with top seeded Juliane Schenk. Bae Youn Joo and Yip Pui Yin are the main threats in the bottom half of the draw as well as a considerable Japanese presence in the draw who also played in the Austrian Open last week.
Lee Yong Dae is the main attraction of the mens doubles with partner Jung Jae Sung, with Korean team-mates Ko and Yoo being their main rivals this week. The draw is packed with excellent partners, the Commonwealth champions Koo and Tan are the 3rd seeds this week and there is German interest in the 6th seeded Kindervater and Schoettler, who should meet Lee and Jung in the quarter final stage.
The Japanese are well represented in the seeds for the women’s doubles, with the top seeded Maeda and Suetsuna, 5th seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa and 7th seeded Matsuo and Naito. The European threats in the draw come from the 3rd seeded Nedelcheva and Russkikh and 4th seeded Vislova and Sorokina but one name to watch is Kim Ha Na of Korea and her partner Kim Min Seo who take on the German pair of Schnaase and Bott in their opening match.
Kim Ha Na is Lee Yong Dae’s new partner as he returns to the mixed doubles for the first time in recent memory, the new partnership has a tough opening against the 4th seeded German pairing of Fuchs and Michels. Top seeded Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam start with a tough opener themselves against the Russian duo of Nikolaenko and Sorokina. Mateusiak and Zieba are seeded 2 but will hope to jump start their campaign this week after a poor start to 2011.
Eddie has been a writer for BadmintonLife.com since June 2009 covering the Major BWF events and Super Series events. Previous worked for The Guardian newspaper and was also featured in the New York Times during the London 2012 Olympics.