The three-month absence of Super Series badminton ends this week when the worlds best converge in Singapore for the 5th Super Series event of 2010. With the World Championships just three months away, the top players will be looking to play their way into winning form before Paris in late August.
The draw however is without a large Chinese attendance, with the squad likely in a 3-month training camp ahead of the World Championships. The draw is still laden with world-class players such as #1 seed Lee Chong Wei in the men’s singles. The 2010 All England Champion plays Brice Leverdez of France in his opening match. The European threat will come from #2 seed, Peter Gade. The current European champions starts with a tough match against Andre Tedjono of Indonesia. Kenichi Tago’s fantastic 2010 has been rewarded with the Japanese player earning the #8 this week; he begins with a first round match against Hsieh Yu Hsing of Chinese Taipei.
Saina Nehwal is the #1 seed in the women’s singles, with the Indian beginning his campaign against Wong Mew Choo of Malaysia. Tine Rasmussen is the #2 seed, as she returns to a full schedule after missing most of the 2009 with injury. She begins her campaign against Aditl Mutatkar of India. The sole “big name” Chinese representative is the 2009 World Champion, Lu Lan. The Chinese #4 seed begins her campaign against one of the stars of the Thomas Cup for Japan, Ai Goto.
The men’s doubles is without the Chinese powerhouses of Cai and Fu as well as Lee Yong Dae but the draw is still packed with excellent players. The #1 seeds are Koo and Tan who begin their week against Kim and Shin of Korea. Kido and Setiawan are seeded 2 and begin against the talented Japanese duo of Hayakawa and Kazuno, but in their previous meeting in the Thomas Cup, Kido and Setiawan demolished the duo 21-11, 21-9. The #3 and #4 seeds are battling for their own personal reasons, to be Denmark’s #1 partnership. Boe and Mogensen are the #3 seeds this week and begin against Ellis and Mills of England; whilst the #4 seeded Paaske and Rasmussen take on the new Chinese pair of Liu and Qiu. Qiu reached the Asian Championship Semi Final in the mixed with partner Tian Qing.
The mixed doubles is littered with potential winners, from the top seeded Widianto and Natsir to the new Korean pair of Shin and Lee seeded 7. The current world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl are also in the draw seeded #2. Widianto and Natsir begin against Delbo Larsen and Schjott-Kristiensen of Denmark in round 1. The #8 seeded Wallwork and Robertson could have an all-English match in Round 2 against White and Blair if both come through their opening matches.
The doubles competitions began play this morning in Manchester, as well the 3rd round of the singles, with no more seeds falling in either event. The big news of the day for the local fans was Anthony Clark’s withdrawal from both doubles events.
Peter Gade is through to the last 8, but was forced to work for his win against Raul Must of Estonia. The Estonian shocked the top seed and took the second game to set up a 3rd game, but after 69 minutes the top seed progressed into tomorrow’s quarterfinals, winning 21-15, 19-21, 21-18. Gade will play Carl Baxter in the last 8, after the English 8th seed defeated Jan Vondra 21-16, 21-9 in his 3rd round match today.
There also wins for Rajiv Ouseph and Dicky Palyama, both players winning in three games to book their place in the last 8. England were hopeful of a 3rd player in the last 8 as Andrew Smith took on Marc Zweibler of Germany in the last 16, but after sharing the opening 10 points, Zweibler took the next 8 before Andrew Smith retired through injury trailing 13-5 in the first game.
The last unseeded player in the draw is Ireland’s Scott Evans, who plays Rajiv Ouseph in the last 8 tomorrow. The 4th quarterfinal is an all-Danish affair, with Joachim Persson (Seeded 6) playing Jan O Jorgensen (Seeded 2) for a place in Saturday’s semi final.
All 8 seeds have safely progressed into the last 8, with only 6th seed Ella Diehl dropping a game so far. Pi Hongyan continues to dominate her half of the draw, today defeating Camilla Sorensen of Denmark, 21-18, 21-5 to book her place against Petya Nedelcheva, who defeated England’s Elizabeth Cann 21-13, 21-13 to progress into tomorrow’s quarterfinal.
Juliane Schenk will play Judith Meulendijks tomorrow in the second quarterfinal, 3rd seeded Schenk defeated Switzerland’s Jeanine Cicognini 21-19, 21-9 whilst 7th seeded Meulendijks beat Iceland’s Ranga Ingolfsdottir 21-15, 21-10 to book her place in tomorrow’s quarter final.
The bottom half of the draw sees Ella Diehl, seeded 6th play Yao Jie of the Netherlands for a place in the last 4. The Dutch 4th seed beat Karin Schnaase of Germany 21-16, 21-7 to progress whist the 6th seeded Russian had to come from a game down to beat England’s Helen Davies 17-21, 21-16, 21-11.
Susan Egelstaff, seeded 8 is through to play Tine Rasmussen of Denmark, the 2nd seed in the last of the quarterfinals tomorrow. Both ladies have failed to drop a game getting to this stage of the competition, with Susan Egelstaff dropping 4 less points to this stage and been on court just 3 minutes less than her Danish opponent.
In the Men’s Doubles, all 3 of the seeded Danish pairs have safely made into the last 8. Only the pre-tournament withdrawal of the 3rd seeded Robertson and Clark means that there isn’t a full compliment of seeds in the last 8. However there is English interest still, with Peter Mills and Marcus Ellis through to the last 8 to play German pair Michael Fuchs and Ingo Kindervater.
All 4 seeds in the Women’s Doubles are through, with neither of the four pairs losing a game on route to the last 8. The top seeded Nedelcheva and Russkikh play Frier Kristiansen and Ropke of Denmark, who progressed to the last 8 with a 21-10, 21-1 win over their Greek opponents in Round 2. The 2nd seeded Russian duo of Vislova and Sorokina play the Scottish pair of Emma Mason and Imogen Bankier who failed to drop a game in both their matches today.
Only 4 seeds remain from the 8 that begun the mixed doubles, top seeds and current world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl safely progressed through both matches today to reach the last 8 and are the only seed remaining in the top half of the draw after losing Middleton and Agathangelou (Seeded 6), Durkin and Vislova (Seeded 4) and Adcock and White (Seeded 7) in the opening round this morning. Jenny Wallwork and Nathan Robertson are the last English pair left in the competition, the 3rd seeds play Sorokina and Nikolaenko of Russia for a place in the last 4.
Europe’s finest are in Manchester this week for the European Championships, with Denmark and hosts England being well represented in the seeds this week.
Top seed and All England semi finalist Peter Gade will go for European title number 5 and continue the Danish dominance in the men’s singles. He starts with a first round bye before taking on Scotland’s Kieran Merrilees in the second round. The Scottish 20-year old has never won on the European tour but had an outstanding run in late 2008 and has the ability to defeat any player in Europe on his day.
Denmark’s new star is the 2nd seed, Jan O Jorgensen. The 22-year old starts with a first round bye before taking on Petr Koukal, the Czech national champion and winner of the 2009 Czech International will be an excellent test for Jorgensen in the opening round of his campaign.
England’s main contenders come in the way of 4th seed and 8th seed Rajiv Ouseph and Carl Baxter. Ouseph begins against Austrian Michael Lahnsteiner whilst Carl Baxter takes on Israeli Misha Zilberman, both matches are in the second round.
Denmark will look to break a 10-year wait for a women’s singles title, with Camilla Martin being the last Dane to win the title in 2000. However it is Pi Hongyan of France that is top seed for this year’s European Championships. The French woman begins her campaign against Akvile Stapusaityte of Lithuania in her opening round. The second seed is Denmark’s big hope to end a 10 year drought, Tine Rasmussen begins her campaign against Andrea Zvorc of Croatia on Wednesday night, with her last event seeing her regain her All England title, can she regain the women’s singles for Denmark?
All four of the seeds come from the European powerhouses, Denmark and England. Top seeded Boe and Mogensen and 2nd seeded Paaske and Rasmussen have a first round bye. The surprising news from the draw is that 3rd seeded Clark and Robertson have to play a first round whilst 4th seeded Kristiansen and Henriksen have a bye into Round 2.
Current World Champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl are the top seeds in the mixed doubles and begin their campaign to claim their 2nd European Championship against Dimova and Makarski of Bulgaria. Polish 2nd seeds Mateusiak and Kostiuczyk hope to regain the form that won them the Hong Kong Super Series title in November last year, they start against Swiss pair Dumartheray and Jaquet. England’s big hope come in the 3rd seeds Robertson and Wallwork, they begin their campaign against Welsh duo Morgan and Sheppard.
The second day was a stronger day for the seeds, however another top seed has fallen before the quarterfinal stage. Peter Gade continues on his quest for his second All England title as the top players in the world position themselves for a run at the title.
First on court again and safely into the quarterfinals was Lee Chong Wei with a fine victory over Sony Dwi Kunncoro 21-11, 21-17. He will play unseeded Korean Shon Wan Ho who defeated Chen Long in a three-game classic 21-18, 18-21, 21-19 after Chen Long disposed of 8th seeded Jorgensen in round 1 yesterday. The other quarterfinal in the top half is perhaps the match of the day tomorrow between 4th seed Taufik Hidayat and 5th seed Peter Gade. Hidayat safely through against Englishman Andrew Smith 21-18, 21-14 and Gade survived a first game scare to win 24-22, 21-18 over Simon Santoso.
The bottom half sees unseeded Kenichi Tago through to see Chen Jin in the first quarterfinal. Tago has progressed through two tough matches, playing Tien Ming Nguyen in round 1 and defeating Joachim Persson, last years 6th seed in three games, 22-24, 21-15, 21-8 to book his place against the 3rd seed from China. Chen Jin safely progressed after a tight opening game against another English player Rajiv Ouseph, winning in two games, 23-21, 21-8.
Lin Dan is also through to tomorrow’s quarterfinal where he will play Bao Chunlai, the 6th seed from China. Bao Chunlai’s phenomenal performance over Park Sung Hwan that seen him 13-0 in the opening game, before winning the match 21-5, 21-10. Lin Dan has failed to explode into life as yet but continues to progress in the tournament with another two-game victory over Muhammad Hafiz Hashim of Malaysia.
Wang Yihan was the first of the seeds through to the last 8 of the tournament with a 21-16, 21-16 win over Yu Hirayama of Japan. She will play the 8th seeded Zhou Mi in the quarterfinals after the all-Hong Kong second round match between her and Wang Chen was won by the 8th seed, 21-13, 21-15. The second quarterfinal match in the top half is an all-Chinese affair with 3rd seeded Jiang Yanjiao coming through her second round match against Maria Febe Kusamastuti 21-9, 21-14 to set up a match against Wang Xin, the 5th seed. She defeated Ai Goto of Japan 21-12, 21-13 to book her place in tomorrow’s quarterfinal.
Saina Nehwal booked her place in the last 8 with a win over Bae Sueng Hee of Korea, 21-11, 22-20 and will play unseeded Juliane Schenk of Germany, who also defeated a Korean to reach the quarterfinal stage, beating Bae Youn Joo 21-14, 21-16 to set up a match against the 7th seeded Nehwal. The last of the 4 quarterfinal matches is the pick of the bunch, with Tine Rasmussen playing 6th seed Lu Lan of China. Rasmussen progressed easily past Eriko Hirose 21-12, 21-12 to book her place whilst Lu Lan had to fight for a tight three-game victory over Scotland’s Susan Egelstaff, winning in the end 25-23, 20-22, 21-17 to reach the last 8 of the competition.
Lars Paaske and Jonas Rasmussen continue their fantastic run at this year’s competition with a 21-18, 21-19 victory over Ko and Yoo of Korea. They will play Tan and Gan of Malaysia in the last 8 after they defeated Chinese pairing of Chai and Zhang 21-8, 23-21. The two pairings are the only two non-seeded partnerships left in the men’s doubles draw. Kido and Setiawan also progressed, winning 21-16, 21-16 over qualifiers Endo and Hirobe of Japan and the 3rd seeds will play Lee and Choong of Malaysia in the last 8 after the 8th seeds fought back from a game down to win 17-21, 23-21, 21-11.
The third of the quarterfinals sees the 5th seeded Cai and Fu play the 4th seeded Boe and Mogensen for a place in the semi finals. Cai and Fu winning 21-11, 21-17 over their Korean opponents Kim and Shin whilst Boe and Mogensen came through a much tighter match, winning 22-20, 21-19 over Fan and Lee of Chinese Taipei. The second seeds Lee and Jung have been the class pairing in the competition to date, winning both matches to date in convincing fashion, today defeating Kumar and Thomas of India 21-12, 21-6 to book their place in the last 8 against Guo and Xu of China, the 7th seeds. The Chinese pair defeating local favourites Nathan Robertson and Anthony Clark 21-14, 21-11 to book their place in the last 8.
There is a distinctly Asian feel to the event, with all 8 pairings coming from China, Japan, Korea, Chinese Taipei or Indonesia. Top seeded Du and Yu are through to the quarter final after a 21-8, 21-12 win over Sorokina and Vislova of Russia and will play the Japanese 6th seeds Maeda and Suetsuna in the last 8. The Japanese pair defeating Wallwork and White over England 21-23, 21-9, 21-8 to set up an all-seeded match in the quarters.
Wang and Ma are also through to the last 8 with a stunning 21-4, 21-7 win over Amitapai and Munkit of Thailand, they will play Chen and Chien of Chinese Taipei who beat the Bulgaria/Russian partnership of Anastasia Russkikh and Petya Nedelcheva 24-22, 21-9 to book their place in the last 8 of the event.
The top seeds Zheng Bo and Ma Jin were expected to contest for the title on Sunday, but were defeated by the Chinese qualifiers Zhang and Zhao 21-16, 21-17 to book their place in the last 8. They will play the 8th seeded Gunawan and Marissa after their 21-14, 21-16 victory over Fujii and Hashimoto. He and Yu’s match against Blair and Bankier did not go ahead with Robert Blair’s leg injury forcing him to retire from the event. The 4th seeds He and Yu will play another Chinese pair, the 6th seeded Tao and Zhang after a three-game match with Mateusiak and Kostiucyzk 20-22, 21-18, 21-12.
There is English interest in the quarterfinals, with Anthony Clark and Heather Olver through to the last 8 against a 21-18, 22-20 win over Lee and Chien of Chinese Taipei. They will play the 3rd seeds, Lee and Lee of Korean after their victory in their all-Korean second round match against Yoo and Kim, winning 21-13, 21-17. The second English pair play in the last of the quarterfinals, with Jenny Wallwork and Nathan Robertson defeating the 7th seeds, Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl 21-14, 16-21, 21-15. They will play the second seeds Widianto and Natsir after their 21-12, 21-8 win over Careme and Choinet of France
Debate has been raging on for months now regarding venue selection for badminton at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Games organizers want to host the badminton event at Wembley Arena, while the BWF has been pushing for a new venue. The All England Championships used to be played at Wembley Arena in years past, but has since moved to Birmingham.
BBC Sport recently spoke Neither Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork about the venue selection, and neither player seemed to be particularly concerned where the event was held.
Robertson was the silver medalist at Athens in 2004 with former partner Gail Emms, but failed to make it into the medals at Beijing in 2008. Emms has since retired.
Wallwork had the following to say about the venue dispute:
I think wherever it is it is going to fantastic. Everyone’s dream is to go to the Olympics and I really don’t think anyone is going to care where it is at the end of the day. People just want to compete and do their best, so for us it could be anywhere.
Robertson appeared to mirror Wallwork’s sentiment:
For players, Wembley has a lot of history. To win a medal there at the London Olympics would give it a bit of extra spice rather than in a new venue…. I honestly think that if the Olympics weren’t in London I wouldn’t be sitting here as a badminton player. My will to want to go and play at those Olympics and possibly medal is driving me on for the next two years.
Last month BWF President Dr Kang Young Joong was quoted as saying:
The Olympic Games is the pinnacle of sporting achievement and the BWF owes our athletes and its members the responsibility to showcase badminton to the media and the world in the best possible way.
The BWF hopes to have negotiations finalized with the games organizers at their next board meeting in Marc.