As we enter the quarter-finals stage of the Li Ning China Masters Super Series China has a firm grip on almost every draw in this tournament. In the men’s singles China has 4 of the remaining players. Hardly surprising is the fact that Peter Gade is the only non Asian player left in the tournament except for France’s Pi Hongyan who first played for China. Gade will play Boonsak Ponsana, and if he’s successful there, Chen Jin. For the most part I’m sure that Gade is happy simply to be on the other side of the draw from Lin Dan. The world champion Lin Dan will play Park Sung Hwan in his quarter-final match.
A big surprise in the women’s singles was the upset of Denmark’s top player Tine Rasmussen to the Chinese qualifier Wang Xin in three close games 17-21, 21-16, 21-14. Wang Xin will now play Pi Hongyan as she enters her first ever Super Series quarter-final. Elsewhere in the draw Hong Kong’s Wang Chen had to retire after losing the first set and trailing 5-0 in the second game, no word on what happened.
The men’s doubles is missing a lot of the world’s top pairs, in fact there were 3 byes in the draw which indicates that there were not enough entries to fill the draw. A terrible thing to see, but certainly a great opportunity for some new teams to earn some very valuable experience and world ranking points as the Super Series are worth a great deal. The safe money at this stage is on a finals encounter between Malaysia’s Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah vs China’s Fu Haifeng and Cai Yun.
The women’s doubles features only two non Chinese pairs, but certainly the favourites Cheng Shu and Zhao Yunlei are unlikely to falter before facing the second seeds Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung. The mixed nationality pairing of Charmaine Reid and Nicole Grether were unable to maintain their momentum as they fell to the second seeds in two quick games. Finally the mixed doubles is almost certainly a lock for China with 7 out of 8 remaining pairs.
After the first day of competition at the Li Ning China Master Super Series 2009 both of the English entrants in the men’s singles have managed to live to another day in spite of strong competition. Rajiv Ouseph ousted Thailand’s Saensomboonsuk Tanongsak in three games 21-7, 12-21, 21-17 to find his way to the second round where he will now face world number one Lee Chong Wei. England’s other men’s singles player Andrew Smith also had a strong performance against Hong Kong’s Chan Yan Kit who is no slouch. Smith won in three games too, 21-19, 5-21, 21-15 and will now play Boonsak Ponsana in the 2nd round.
As is customary at the China Masters, the draw is ripe with Chinese players. In fact at the second round phase the bottom quarter of the draw is all Chinese players with a notable match up between Chen Jin and Bao Chunlai. Chunlai’s ranking has slipped lately after injury troubles. Another notable performance from the Chinese was Chen Long’s win over Malaysia’s Wong Choong Han 21-9, 21-17. Wong is the only seed to fall in the men’s singles so far. Other than Chen Jin vs Bao Chunlai, another match to keep an eye out for tomorrow is Andrew Smith facing Boonsak Ponsana, this could go either way in my opinion, in spite of Ponsana being the favourite.
The women’s singles had few surprises as all of the seeds won their matches to move on to the second round, but certainly there were some close matches. Tine Rasmussen had to fight for her right to play as Zhang Yuchun from China pushed her to three games. Another close match was Pi Hongyan’s victory over Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong where the first game went to the limit with Pi winning 30-29, and then winning the second game 21-18.
All I can say about the men’s doubles is Korea, Malaysia and China. That’s all you see in the draw, period. The only other country represented was Chinese Taipei who were knocked out in the first round. In the second round there are 2 Malaysian pairs, 2 Korean pairs and 11 Chinese pairs remaining. It’s a fair bet that a Chinese pair will win, and if they don’t they will certainly get a reprimanding from Li Yongbo.
The women’s doubles isn’t too different, except that with Charmaine Reid and Nicole Grether winning their first round in three games they are the only non-Asian pair remaining in any of the doubles events. Where are all of the Danes, and English? Finally the mixed doubles is a very similar picture to the other doubles events with a very small number of non-Chinese teams remaining, or even entered in the first place.
Li Ning China Master Super Series 2009 Draws
Thus far there have been very few upsets at the 2009 Yonex OCBC US Open, and in the mens singles there have been exactly none. Every seed, except Dicky Palyama who didn’t play, has made it through to the quarter finals. I am really excited to see what happens between David Snider and Taufik Hidayat. I have no delusions about David being able to win this match. This would no doubt be the best player that David has ever played before by a long shot, however, David has gone to three games with Andrew Smith who himself went three games with Taufik. I know this is 11 year old logic, but still, wouldn’t it be cool to see a close game between these two? It is of course possible that Taufik might be interested in a day trip to Disneyland tomorrow, and the pesky semi-finals might get in the way of that, it would be wise to take it easy in the quarters then right?
For the womens events I really don’t know many of the players, however I do know that Anna Rice and Eva Lee have had some good battles in the past (I think so at least). Anna spent a large part of the last few months away from intense training while doing work in Africa, so it is possible that she is not quite at her best, but still she is solid. Another Canadian worth watching is Michelle Li. She is new to the international circuit, but she is very strong for her young age. With still another year left in juniors she is already the second best player in Canadian seniors. As for the womens doubles, I know even fewer players. It would appear that the Americans have a good hold on this event with the exception of the top seeds Charmaine Reid and Nicole Grether from Canada and Germany respectively.
The mens doubles appears to be the most diverse draw with players hailing from Korea, Austria, Wales, England, Denmark, Canada, and the USA. No doubt that former world champions Tony Gunawan and Howard Bach are the biggest names in the draw and certainly the favourites in my mind, despite their low seeding.
Finally the mixed doubles, I really have no clue. I would say it’s a choice between any one of either Halim Haryanto, Tony Gunawan or Howard Bach for this title.
It’s probably been over a decade since Taufik Hidayat played a match where he had to work so little. As he walked his way to a 21-3, 21-10 victory, it’s doubtful the Olympic champion broke a sweat. It’s a rare occasion that a player like Taufik goes to North America for a tournament, I’m actually suspicious that he may have come for a holiday to see his old friends Tony Gunawan and Halim Haryanto who are both living in the US now. Disneyland and Hollywood are sure to be on his itinerary. So far all of the mens singles seeds have been relatively unchallenged in their matches, with only Dicky Palyama gone as he withdrew from the tournament. The next few rounds could prove to be interesting, but all of it is inconsequential as the likelihood of Taufik not winning this tournament is extremely low. I am curious however to see how well a number of different players could do against him, first of which could be Canada’s David Snider. Very unlikely to win (see hell freezing over in the dictionary), but a potentially fun one to watch.
In the women’s singles there have been few surprises. Perhaps some upsets on paper, but few surprises. Canada’s Michelle Li defeated American Shannon Pohl, but hardly a surprise as Michelle Li is solid. Another upset on paper is Mona Santoso’s win over Charmaine Reid from Canada, but hardly surprising as Mona Santoso is extremely good. I can’t remember exactly what her story is, but I’m guessing she’s a former Indonesian player from back in the day. Overall it seems to be a battle between Canada and the US, which is not surprising.
In the men’s doubles the only big names are Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan, and perhaps Halim Haryanto. But I don’t think any of these guys are still all that active on the tour these days. Howard and Tony are likely the favourites for this event, but that depends strongly on how much they have been playing lately. The women’s doubles have only had a few early round matches as the majority of the teams had byes to the second round. Finally the mixed doubles features what seems to be a number of retirees coming back for fun or players on the verge of retiring. Halim Haryanto and his partner Grace Peng, Richard Vaughn and Sarah Thomas, Tony Gunawan and Nantana Ketpura, and Howard Bach and Eva Lee.
It’s a shame that the North American events don’t get more big names out to play, but its not surprising. The events are not going to generate the same level of sponsor involvement, and as a result prize money will be much lower. With an event that is also a fair bit away from any other events, it is quite a bit of travel for one event, especially if it doesn’t pay well. At least there is Disneyland nearby.
Monday sees the beginning of the US Open in California with several high profile players making the trip. Last years winner Andrew Dabeka has returned to defend his title and is ranked seventh in the Mens Singles.
Chinese great Gao Ling is playing Women’s Doubles this week and is seeded 2 with her partner Wei Lili. Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan are also back to retain their Men’s Doubles title and are ranked 7th.
However, the main attraction is in the Men’s Singles with top seed Taufik Hidayat. The Indonesian is in outstanding form with a win in India and making the final of the Indonesian Super Series just 3 weeks ago. Only second seed Dicky Palyama is seeded within the World’s top 20, but Palyama has unfortunately withdrawn from the tournament.
The Women’s Singles seeds are dominated by North Americans, with Anna Rice (World Ranked 49), Charmaine Reid (World Ranked 51), and three American’s also seeded for the event.
The second and third seed from the Women’s Singles will also team up this week in the Women’s Doubles with Charmaine Reid and Nicole Grether taking the top seed in the event.
Qualifying begins on Monday, with the Main draw starting on Tuesday.