The world’s elite descend on Birmingham for the last Premier event of the Olympic qualifying year and also the last visit for some of the world’s greatest players set to retire in London in less than 6 months time.
Gade’s Last Run
Gade confirmed on Sunday evening that this would be his last All England as a player. The 4th seed starts with a first round match against his opponent at the 2011 World Championships, England’s Rajiv Ouseph. Gade has won the previous 7 encounters against Ouseph, all in two games. Top seed Lee Chong Wei is also in Gade’s half of the draw, taking on the dangerous Wang Zhengming in his opening round match but the world number 1 has won all four of their matches in two games also.
Lin Dan enters the tournament as the form player with his fantastic run in Germany last week, he takes on India’s Ajay Jayaram in his opening round match for their first meeting. The bottom half of the draw is loaded with Chinese threats with Chen Jin and Chen Long all likely to make deep runs this week. Taufik Hidayat has dropped to 12th in the world rankings and has been displaced as Indonesia’s #1 player by Simon Santoso. His status as Indonesia’s number 2 should remain unless Tommy Sugiarto defeats Chen Jin in his opening round match, with Hidayat taking on Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon in the first round.
Chinese Strength On Show
China have only brought a mere 6 players for the women’s singles, with all of them ranked inside the top 10 in the world. Liu Xin is the only unseeded of the six and takes on Michelle Li of Canada before a likely second round match against top seeded Wang Yihan.
Should the Chinese team allow their players to play one another, this could be a fascinating week of play with six players attempting to qualify for potentially three spots in the Olympics. Wang Xin and Wang Shixian hold the other two qualifying places and both have tough openers. Wang Xin takes on the world number 12 Sung Ji Hyun of Korea whilst Wang Shixian takes on the world number 10 and world silver medalist
Cheng Shao Chieh.
Tine Baun and Juliane Schenk lead the European charge, with Baun taking on Fu Mingtian of Singapore in her opening round match whilst Juliane Schenk takes on the world number 13 Bae Youn Joo in her opening round match. The sub-plots begin on Tuesday when qualifying takes place with Susan Egelstaff and Elizabeth Cann fighting for the GB spot at the Olympics, both have been in poor runs of form but could play each other in the final qualifying round on Tuesday night in what could be a decider for the Olympic spot.
China The Nation To Beat
China hold the top seed in all three doubles events, with Cai and Fu on route to take on Lee and Jung for their 21st encounter. Last week’s winners Hong and Shen are in Lee and Jung’s half of the draw also as well as Boe and Mogensen of Denmark. Cai and Fu’s main threat in their half in the Korean pair of Ko and Yoo, their world championship opponents.
Wang and Yu have been off the radar for almost 2 months after their stunning loss to Ha and Kim in Korea, they still remain the top seeds in the women’s doubles and will face a qualifier in their opening round. Their main rivals Tian and Zhao start with Chin and Wong of Malaysia, the world number 14 pairing. Ha and Kim are the 3rd seeds this week and are in the bottom half of the draw and have a rematch of their opening round in Germany last week against Sari and Yao of Singapore who defeated them in three games.
The mixed doubles offers another Zhang and Zhao against Adcock and Bankier rematch in the first round, after meeting in the first round in Korea with the British pair coming up on top. Adcock and Bankier are also in a tight qualification fight against Robertson and Wallwork who take on the world number 11 Thai pairing of Anugritayawon and Voravichitchaikul in the opening round. Xu and Ma are the second seeds this week and start with under the circumstances an “easy” game against the world number 31 pairing of Kim and Jung of Korea. The Danish contingent could face off in the quarter final, but the 3rd seeded Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen take on the new Chinese partnership of Jiaming and Huan. Last week’s German Open winners Laybourn and Rytter Juhl await a qualifier in their opening round.
Four events still hold Dutch interest going into the weekend whilst several seeded players crashed out to boost the belief of at least one Dutch title this week.
Eric Pang’s victory in three games over 2nd seeded Ajay Jayaram was the story of the men’s singles today , but just as significant was Hsueh Hsuan Yi’s victory over Przemyslaw Wacha in the other half of the draw means that two unseeded players remain going into the semi finals tomorrow, with Pang taking on Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei for a place in Sunday’s final.
Yao Jie disposed of Ireland’s Chloe Magee in two games to set up her semi final match against Denmark’s Karina Jorgensen, who defeated Kristina Gavnholt in her quarter final match. Top seeded Porntip Buranaprasertsuk is also safely into the last 4 after defeating Pai Hsiao Ma of Chinese Taipei in her quarter final.
Bosch and Ridder set up their semi final clash with German’s Kindervater and Schoettler with both pairs winning in two games to reach the last 4. 2nd seeds Ivanov and Sozonov crashed out to the Danish pair of Skovgaard and Pieler Kolding to set up the other semi final against Poland’s Cwalina and Logosz. The women’s doubles sees the top four seeds in the semi finals, with the Dutch pairing of Jonathans and Van Dooremalen taking on the top seeded Thai pairing of Aroonkesorn and Voravitcitchaikul, after both claim two game victories in the quarter finals. The other Dutch pair in the last 8 of Severien and Verheul were defeated in two games by the second seeded Sari and Yao of Singapore.
The top two pairs from Thailand both successfully reached the last 4, joined by two German pairs. The 3rd seeded Fuchs and Michels received a walkover in the quarter finals whilst the unseeded pair of Kaesbauer and Goliszewski beat the Chinese Taipei pairing of Lu and Wu in three games to book their place in the last 4.
Even though some big-name withdrawals have weakened some of the draws, there is an excellent field in Almere, headlined by the 2nd seeded Yao Jie.
Boonsak Ponsana was set to be the top seed to play himself into form ahead of the Danish and French Super Series but pulled out pre-event to allow the unseeded Rasmus Fladberg to reach the last 8 from Ponsana’s part of the draw. 2nd seeded Ajay Jayaram has progressed into the quarter finals without the loss of a game and takes on the 5th seeded Dutchman Eric Pang for a place in the semi finals. Przemyslaw Wacha is the highest seed left in the top half of the draw and takes on the 7th seeded Hsueh Hsuan Yi of Chinese Taipei for place in the last 4.
Yao Jie is the big hope of a title this week for the Dutch and after surviving a nervy three game match in her opening round eventually winning 22-20 in the deciding game, there were little problems reaching the last 8 today with a routine two game victory over Sabrina Jacquet to set up a quarter final with Ireland’s Chloe Magee, who won the all-British match in the second round against Elizabeth Cann. The only other seed remain in the entire draw is the top seeded Thai Porntip Buranaprasertsuk who has progressed safely into the last 8 without the loss of a game to date and takes on Chinese Taipei’s Pai Hsiao Ma in the quarter finals.
All three doubles events have been hit with walkovers and withdrawals but there is still an excellent field in the last 8 of all the events. The top 4 seeds remain in the men’s doubles, with 4th seeded Bosch and Ridder looking to keep the title on Dutch soil but will face a tough task with a likely semi final encounter with German top seeds Kindervater and Schoettler. Jonathans and Van Dooremalen are seeded 4 in the women’s doubles whilst unseeded Dutch pair of Severien and Verheul are also through to the last 8, taking on the 2nd seeded Sari and Yao of Singapore in their quarter final.
The two Thai pairs are the main contenders this week, with both pairs coming through their second round matches without much resistance. The top seeded Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam take on the Danish pair of Delbo Larsen and Grebak in their quarter final whilst 2nd seeded Anugritayawon and Voravichitchaikul take on the Singapore pairing of Chrisnanta and Neo for a place in the last 4.
As surprising as it was to see Joachim Persson through to the semi-finals with numerous victories along the way, the biggest surprise thus far came today when he defeated Peter Gade for the first time ever to book his place in the finals. Persson has struggled with injuries over the last couple years, and questions have been raised as to his ability to keep up with the best on the tour, however those questions have been put to rest with a 21-14, 16-21, 21-17 victory over the top seeded Gade. Persson now plays Taufik Hidayat who had a more straight forward victory over Boonsak Ponsana 21-13, 21-14.
The womens semi finals featured two China vs Thailand match ups, and the results were in China’s favour. Top seed Wang Yihan came through in three games over Porntip Buranaprasertsuk 21-12, 19-21, 21-10. Her compatriot Li Xuerui will be Wang’s opponent after her two game victory over Salakajit Ponsana 22-20, 21-13, ending the Ponsana family’s hopes of a title in Paris.
Germany will be happy with two pairs in the finals, one in the mens doubles, and the other in the mixed doubles. First up was the surprising upset of second seeds Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan to Ingo Kindervatter and Johannes Schöttler 13-21, 21-17, 22-20. The German pair will now play Denmark’s Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen who are appearing in their second consecutive super series final after defeating their compatriots Jonas Rasmussen and Mads Conrad-Petersen 21-23, 21-6, 21-16.
The next success for Germany came from Birgit Overzier and Michael Fuchs who won after Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl retired at 17-10 in the first game. The German pair now play Thailand’s Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam after they also benefited from a withdrawal against their compatriots Songphon Anugritayawon and Kunchala Voravichitchaikul.
Petya Nedelcheva and Anastasia Russkikh needed the longest match of the day to win their semi-final match against Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter-Juhl 18-21, 21-15, 21-16 in an hour and eleven minutes. They now face Thailand’s Duanganong Aroonkesorn and Kunchala Voravichitchaikul who had a fairly straight forward victory over Lena Frier Kristiansen and Maria Ropke winning 21-9, 21-15.
Perhaps the most interesting story of this French Super Series is the performance of Denmark’s Joachim Persson.
Persson has been pushed to the shadows in the last year or so as Jan Jorgensen and Viktor Axelsen have shown some substantial potential, however this week in Paris Persson seems to be reminding us that he still has the ability to threaten at these events. The left hander defeated China’s Du Pengyu in three exquisite games 21-17, 12-21, 21-19 to book his quarter-final place against his compatriot Peter Gade who struggled more than expected against German Marc Zwiebler. Gade won in three games as well 15-21, 21-12, 21-8. On the other side of the draw neither Boonsak Ponsana or Taufik Hidayat struggled against their opponents, Ajay Jayaram or Rajiv Ouseph respectively, as both won in straight games.
The big upset on the womens singles side came at the expense of Tine Baun when the second seeded Dane fell to China’s Li Xuerui 21-16, 21-17. Li will now play Salakajit Ponsana who defeated China’s Liu Xin. England’s Elizabeth Cann failed to continue her surprising run when she lost to Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk 21-15, 21-18 who will now play Wang Yihan. Wang crushed her Russian opponent Ella Diehl 21-8, 21-8.
The mens doubles is looking like we will see a repeat of last week’s final. Boe and Mogensen made it one step closer to the final by defeating Flandy Limpele and Simon Mollyhus 21-16, 21-18. In the semi-finals they will face another Danish pair after Jonas Rasmussen and his new partner Mads Conrad-Petersen defeated England’s Chris Adcock and Andrew Ellis 23-25, 22-20, 21-14. The most surprising semi-finalists are Germans Ingo Kindervatter and Johannes Schöttler who defeated their Malaysian opponents Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari Mohd and Ong Soon Hock in two close games 22-20, 21-18. They will face Indonesia’s Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan who narrowly defeated Malaysia’s Gan Teik Chai and Tan Bin Shen 14-21, 21-18, 21-17.
A couple of walkovers marred the womens doubles quarter-finals as Duanganong Aroonkesorn and Kunchala Voravichitchaikul from Thailand and Lena Frier Kristiansen and Maria Ropke from Denmark booked their places against one another without a shuttle being hit. On the other side of the draw we have yet another Danish pair through to the semi-finals after Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen defeated Heather Olver and Mariana Agathangelou 21-19, 21-11. The Danish pair will now play Petya Nedelcheva and Anastasia Russkikh.
Finally in the mixed doubles there were no easy matches for our semi-finalists. All the matches were closely contested, perhaps the most intense was Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl’s victory over Hendra Setiawan and Anastasia Russkikh. The Danes need three games and extra points to win 23-21, 15-21, 27-25 and next they’ll play surprise semi-finalists Michael Fuchs and Birgit Overzier who knocked out top seeds Hendra Gunawan and Vita Marissa 16-21, 21-9, 21-16. The other half of the draw features an all Thailand showdown between Voravichitchaikul and Anugritayawon and their opponents Thoungthongkam and Prapakamol.
Yesterday saw just one seed crash out, today was the complete opposite with seeds toppling on an hourly basis through the day. France’s interest in their home Super Series is overly before the weekend begins, whilst Peter Gade goes from strength to strength after his back injury.
Gade, the top seed in the singles has safely progressed into the quarter finals tomorrow after a two game win over Christian Lind Thomsen and will play the 6th seeded Marc Zwiebler on the TV court on Friday evening. The other Dane in the draw is Joachim Persson, the 8th seeded also came through his all-Danish encounter in a tight two game match and will play China’s Du Pengyu. The unseeded Chinese player has already beaten two Danes on route to the last 8, defeating Viktor Axelsen in Round 1 and last week’s winner Jan O Jorgensen in the second round also. Ajay Jayaram has also reached the last 8, defeating the 7th seeded Dicky Palyama in three games to book his place against Boonsak Ponsana, the 3rd seed.
The seed total in the women’s singles was halved on day 2, with Pi Hongyan crashing out to Elizabeth Cann in a tame two game defeat. Liu Xin continues her excellent run of results with another impressive victory, this time over Juliane Schenk, the 5th seed. Salakjit Ponsana is another player in a rich vein of form, defeating the 4th seeded Yao Jie in a two game victory. Tine Baun has been impressed also, with a two game victory over Jeanine Cicognini.
Four seeds remain in the men’s doubles, with the top seeds Boe and Mogensen taken to three games by Goh and Teo of Malaysia. The 5th seeds Conrad-Pedersen and Rasmussen as well as the 2nd seeded Kido and Setiawan were also taken to three games as many of the seeds still remaining in the draw have been taken the distance. Only the 6th seeded Gan and Tan of Malaysia have progressed safely, with back to back two game victories.
The women’s doubles lost 5 of it’s 8 seeds today, with only the top 3 seeds remaining in the draw. The 6th seeded French pair of Choinet and Rasadi lost out to Lee and Obanana of the USA in three games to end the local interest in the women’s doubles. The top seeds Nedelcheva and Russkikh are safely into the last 8 with a two game win over Fontaine and Palermo of France.
Only one seed crashed out of the mixed doubles, 5th seeded Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen lost out in three games to the pairing of Setiawan and Russkikh, who are both seeded in their respective level doubles events. They take on another Danish pair tomorrow as they take on last weeks winners, Laybourn and Rytter Juhl, the 3rd seeds.
The Japanese interest in the final guaranteed at least one title, whilst top seed Yao Jie hoped to keep the women’s singles title in Holland this year. The day didn’t start well for the Japanese as they lost the women’s doubles final to the 2nd seeded Vislova and Sorokina who defeated the top seeded pairing of Fujii and Kakiiwa 21-19, 21-19.
However, Japan did secure it’s first title of the day in the men’s singles as Sho Sasaki beat unseeded Indian Ajay Jayaram in two games, winning 21-19, 21-16 in 37 minutes. The women’s singles had local interest with Yao Jie, top seed in the singles faced the 2nd seeded Juliane Schenk in the final. The pair shared the opening two games before Schenk prevailed in the third game, winning the 21-13, 14-21, 21-15 in just under an hour.
Valeria Sorokina secured title number two in the mixed doubles; with her partner Alexander Nikolaenko they defeated the Japanese 3rd seeds, Ikeda and Shiota 22-20, 21-9 to ensure Japan walked away with only two titles from the four finals. Title number 2 for Japan went to the top seeded Hashimoto and Hirata over their unseeded team mates, Hirobe and Kazuno with the top seeds winning 21-17, 21-13.
Picture Provided by Rene Lagerwaard
No less than four finals will have Japanese interest, with one all-Japanese final guaranteeing at least one success for Japan. Ajay Jayaram booked his place in the men’s singles final with a two victory over the 14th seed, also from India, Anand Pawar. He will play the 5th seeded Sho Sasaki of Japan in the final, after ending the chances of local success with a two game victory over Eric Pang.
The chances of all 5 finals having Japanese interest ended when Ai Goto was defeated by top seed Yao Jie in two games to give the local crowd some home-grown interest in tomorrow’s final. Top seeded Yao takes on the 2nd seeded Juliane Schenk after defeating Olga Konon in three games to book her place in the final.
The men’s doubles will be an all-Japanese final, top seeded Hashimoto and Hirata defeated Kindervater and Schottler to book their place in the final. The unseeded pair of Hirobe and Kazuno defeated their 3rd seeded countrymen Sato and Kawamae in three games to set up tomorrow’s all-Japanese affair.
The top two seeds meet in the women’s doubles final, as Fujii and Kakiiwa ended the Swedish pair of Lennartsson and Wengberg’s excellent run this week with a two game victory for the top seeded Japanese pair. Second seeds Vislova and Sorokina averted another all-Japanese final with a two game victory over the 3rd seeds Matsuo and Naito to book their place in tomorrow’s final.
The mixed doubles final is another Russia – Japan affair, with the 3rd seeded Ikeda and Shiota defeating their 6th seeded countrymen of Hayakawa and Matsuo in an 81 minute thriller, after the 3rd seeds lost the opening game 30-29. They play the 4th seeded Sorokina and Nikolaenko in tomorrow’s final after they ended the run of local pairing of Bosch and Jonathans in two games to set up the second Russia v Japan final.
Picture Provided by Rene Lagerwaard
Whilst Viktor Axelsen’s quest for title number 2 ended at the hands of Eric Pang, there was delight for India as they guaranteed themselves a place in the men’s singles final. Ajay Jayaram continued his excellent run whilst Anand Pawar defeated Ireland’s Scott Evans in just over an hour to book his place in the all-Indian semi final. Chetan Anand could not make it 3 Indians in the last 4, as he lost out to Sho Sasaki of Japan.
The big local hope is in the women’s singles, as Yao Jie made it through to the last 4 with a three-game victory over Ukraine’s Larisa Griga. She takes on Ai Goto of Japan, who defeated Pai Hsiao Ma in two games. The second semi final is an all-German affair with 2nd seed Juliane Schenk taking on Olga Konon after both came through comfortably in two games in their quarter finals.
The shock in the men’s doubles was the defeat of 6th seeded Endo and Hayakawa to unseeded German pairing of Schottler and Kindervater, losing 24-22 in the third game. The other seeded Japanese pairs had little trouble, with both the top seeded Hashimoto and Hirata as well as Sato and Kawamae making it through to set up a semi final clash against each other.
Wengberg and Lennartsson ended the 4th seeded Jonathans and Van Dooremalen’s dreams of a home victory to join the top 3 seeds in the semi finals of the women’s doubles. Both top seeds Fujii and Kakiiwa as well as 2nd seeded Vislova and Sorokina won in two games, with Matsuo and Naito coming through in three games to book their place in the last 4.
Japan will definitely have a finalist in the mixed doubles, with 3rd seeded Ikeda and Shiota defeating Vislova and Durkin in their quarter final and in the all-Japanese quarter final, the 6th seeded Hayakawa and Matsuo progressed through. The top half of the draw has local interest in Bosch and Jonathans, they take on the 4th seeded Nikolaenko and Sorokina of Russia in the semi final.
Picture Provided by Rene Lagerwaard
More seeds toppled as the 16 seeds that started the men’s singles has become just 5, with three unseeded players putting their names into the equation. Russia’s Ivan Sozonov defeated the last Danish seed in the draw, Christian Lind Thomsen in three games to leave Viktor Axelsen as the last Dane in the draw. His stunning 21-10, 21-7 win over the 15th seeded Pablo Abian is a real statement of intent for this week, he takes on 6th seeded Eric Pang in the last 8. Ajay Jayaram is the last of the unseeded trio, defeating 13th seeded Kestutis Navickas in two games to set up a match with Sozonov in the quarters.
The women’s singles boasts the same quota of seeds at the last 8 stage. Unseeded Chinese Taipei player Pai Hsiao Ma takes on the 3rd seeded Ai Goto in the quarters whilst the other two unseeded players face of in the 3rd of the quarter finals, as Iceland’s Ragna Ingolfsdottir takes on the newly nationalised Olga Konon of Germany, formerly of Poland. Yao Jie came through a tough test against Karina Jorgensen of Denmark to set up a match with Larisa Griga of Ukraine. The 4th quarter final sees Juliane Schenk take on Anastasia Prokopenko for a place in the last 4.
The men’s doubles got underway today and after two rounds there is a Japanese presence to the final 8, with 4 of the pairs being from Japan. All four pairs could make the last 4 as they all play in different quarter finals. Top seeded Hashimoto and Hirata take on Danes Elbjorn and Skovgaard in the first of tomorrow’s quarter finals.The 5th seeded Endo and Hayakawa take on the experience German pair of Kindervater and Schottler. The third of the seeded Japanese pairs, 3rd seeded Sato and Kawamae have the tough task of taking on the 8th seeded Russians, Durkin and Nikolaenko. The 4th Japanese pair, unseeded Hirobe and Kazuno take on the 2nd seeded Ellis and Mills of England.
The women’s doubles opening round was a brief affair, with all 8 of the matches being won in two games. All 4 of the seeded pairs are through to the last 8, with the top seeds Fujii and Kakiiaw and 3rd seeded Matuso and Naito giving the draw another Japanese vibe to it. The Japanese vibe continues in the mixed doubles, but it is without the top seeded Japanese pair, Hashimoto and Fujii losing out to the Dutch pairing of Bosch and Jonathans, leaving the Russian pair of Nikolaenko and Sorokina as the highest seeds in the top half of the draw, as the 4th seeds. The bottom half of the mixed draw is littered with Japanese pairings. Only the 7th seeded Russian pairing of Vislova and Durkin break into a Japanese monopoly, led by their quarter final opponents, Ikeda and Shiota who are seeded 2 for the event. The final match of the quarters is an all-Japanese affair between the 6th seeded Hayakawa and Matsuo and unseeded pair Hirobe and Matsutomo,