The argument of the best player in the world was a fascinating sub-plot this week as the two best players in the world renewed their rivalry in Seoul for the first Super Series Premier title and the biggest prize fund in badminton history. Olympic champion Lin Dan took on the Commonwealth champion and world #1 Lee Chong Wei for a chance to gain the upper hand in their rivalry going into the 2011 season.
The final between Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei was a 74-minute classic, with both players claiming an equal share of the points tally with 56 points apiece. The match was finely posed at 16-15 to Lee Chong Wei in the deciding game before Lin Dan strung together his longest run of points in the entire match to claim victory 21-16 in the third and deciding end to win the men’s singles title. Perhaps giving him the edge in the argument over who is the best player in the world but Lee Chong will want his revenge as soon as possible as the debate continues on.
There was double success in the singles as Wang Yihan defeated Wang Shixian as the top two women’s players meet in the final, with the current world #2 taking the title in a two-game, 51 minute match winning 21-14, 21-18. The locals also had plenty to cheer about as the 6th seeded Lee and Jung retained their title in the men’s doubles with a stunning one-sided match up over the top seeded Boe and Mogensen. The Korean pair only trailed in the early part of the second set before completing their stunning win in just 33 minutes, winning 21-6, 21-13.
Wang and Yu put their finals defeat in Malaysia behind them as they took the women’s doubles title in another all-Chinese match up, defeating Tian and Zhao in a three-game match lasting 67 minutes but the third and final game was far from a competitive one, with Wang and Xu taking the decider 21-4 to win their first SuperSeries title of 2011. Tian would suffer a double disappointment as her and partner Jiaming Tao lost out in the mixed doubles final to her women’s doubles partner Zhao Yunlei and her partner Zhang Nan in a closely fought three game match, taking 70 minutes with Zhang and Zhao taking the deciding game 21-19 to claim their first title of 2011.
The best two players in the men’s game renew their rivalry in the first Super Series Premier event of 2011, the occurrence of these matches has decreased greatly since 2009, with only 3 matches between the pair in 2010. Lin Dan took 2 of those three matches last year but both have been in excellent form this week.
Lin Dan was on court for 75 minutes in his three-game win over Simon Santoso which some say could be a defining point for tomorrow’s match with Lin Dan’s lack of match experience in the past few months. Lee Chong Wei had little problem in booking his place in the final with a comfortable 21-10, 21-10 win over the unseeded Du Pengyu. The two form players in the women’s singles meet for the second time in eight days as Wang Shixian and Wang Yihan play in their second SuperSeries final of 2011. Wang Yihan had to battle through against her Korean opponent Sung Ji Hyun in three games in a match taking 70 minutes to complete, whilst Wang Shixian had little problems in her semi final match against Porntip Buranaprasertsuk, winning the match in just 28 minutes.
The sole European representative comes in the men’s doubles final, as top seeded Boe and Mogensen take on the home favourites and last years winners Lee and Jung of Korea. The top seeded Danes ended the chance of an all-Korean final in their semi final victory over Ko and Yoo in their semi final whilst Lee and Jung battled through in three games over the 2nd seed and Commonwealth championships Koo and Tan. The expected all-Chinese final in the women’s doubles has materialised, with Wang and Yu defeating top seeded Cheng and Chien in three games to set up a match with Tian and Zhao, who defeated their higher seeded team-mates Du and Pan to reach the final to set up a repeat matchup of the Malaysian SuperSeries final which Tian and Zhao won.
Tian Qing’s incredible start to 2011 continues as she has reached the finals of both the women’s and mixed doubles in both events this year, although she will hope to go one better than last week in the mixed doubles with partner Jiaming Tao. The 6th seeds ended the Korean interest in the event with a two game win over Ko and Ha to set up the final against Zhang and Zhao, who defeated the formidable new partnership of Xu and Ma in their semi final, winning convincingly in two games.