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.