The European dream of gold in London has faded with every passing day, but today was the end of any chances in the singles with the defeats of Tine Baun and Peter Gade.
Chen Long ended Peter Gade’s Olympic career with a classy two game victory over the Dane, who claimed after the match that he played some of his best badminton of the year in is defeat. Chen Long’s reward is a semi-final against the world number 1 Lee Chong Wei, who ended Kashyup Parupalli’s fairytale run at the Olympics in two games to ensure a medal for at least one of the two semi finalists.
Lin Dan secured his place in the semi final with a three game victory over Sho Sasaki, but any hopes of an all-Chinese semi final were derailed by Lee Hyun Il who ended Chen Jin’s campaign in a tight two game victory to book his place in the last 4.
The four best players in the world have all reached the semi final stage, with only the second seeded Wang Xin dropping a game in today’s matches. Wang Xin needed three games to end the run of the 17-year old Inthanon Ratchanok, who looks to be a star for the future for her native Thailand. Li Xuerui will take on Wang Xin in the semi finals after the 3rd seed defeated Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong to reach the last 4.
Wang Yihan has a repeat performance in Wembley Arena against Cheng Shao Chieh in her semi final, with the Chinese top seed securing a straight forward two game victory to reach the semi finals. Saina Nehwal takes on the top seeded Chinese player in the last 4 after ending Tine Baun’s run at the quarter final stage, with the Dane celebrating a line call that would have won her the second game prematurely which resulted in Saina Nehwal saving multiple game points before winning the match on her first match point.
The top three pairs in the world all secured their place in the last 4, where they are also joined by the Commonwealth champions Koo and Tan of Malaysia. The unseeded Koo and Tan take on Cai and Fu in the first of the semi finals, with both pairs successfully negotiating their way into the last 4 with tight two game victories. Lee and Chung take on Boe and Mogensen in the second semi final, with both pairs also coming through their matches in two games to set up their 17th meeting against one another.
The impossible and improbable dream of Alex Bruce and Michelle Li almost became a reality, as they took Fujii and Kakiiwa to three games and booked their place in the bronze medal playoff. The Japanese pair will take on the world number 2 pairing of Tian and Zhao in Saturday’s gold medal match after the Chinese pair disposed of Vislova and Sorokina in a one-sided match.
The first medals will be won in tomorrow’s afternoon session as the two best pairs in the world face off in an all-Chinese gold medal match. Both pairs needed three games to defeat their opponents, with Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen taking on Ahmad and Natsir in the bronze medal match in the morning session. Xu and Ma will take on Zhang and Zhao in a rematch of the world championship semi final held in this arena a year ago. It will be their 11th meeting, with the defending world champions Zhang and Zhao winning 8 of their 10 meetings to date.
Their list of accomplishments are exceptional but even more exceptional is their journey to this point and the only thing missing from their list is Olympic gold in London. They have been at the very top of the men’s doubles rankings for over 8 years and have won nearly every title on several occasions, with 4 World Championships, 2 Asian Games titles and countless Super Series victories.
Cai Yun career was put into serious doubt in 2001, when heart problems from the previous four years of training forced him into heart surgery and a change of discipline from singles to doubles. In 2003, Cai Yun teamed up with Fu Haifeng and won a World Championship bronze medal. In the last few years, their rivalry with Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung has been several of the greatest matches in the history of the men’s doubles. Their 2009 World Championship Final has been revered as the greatest men’s doubles match in history.
In their 21 matches, they trail their Korean rivals 11-10 but two of their victories have came in the World Championships.
Are Lee and Jung Their Only Threat?
The Danish pair of Boe and Mogensen are the current world number 3 pairing, but the two pairs haven’t played for almost 2 years. Cai and Fu hold a 6-2 head to head over the Danes and their head to head over the world ranked 4 pairing of Ko and Yoo is even better, leading 7-1. Their record against all of the top 10 pairs is impressive, with only the Malaysia pair of Koo and Tan claiming more than two victories over Cai and Fu.
Can They Win Gold?
Anything less than a gold will be considered a failure for the Chinese pair. A likely 22nd match against Lee and Jung is expected in the Olympic final, with Cai and Fu feeding off their success from their 2009 and 2011 victories over the Koreans at the World Championships. They have only lost one match this year, to Lee and Jung in the All England Final in March. They will go to the Olympics in form after an impressive Thomas Cup showing, with five victories without the loss of a game.
The crowd in Jakarta were treated to fifteen games of action, with Simon Santoso taking the men’s singles title to ensure success for the Indonesian’s in their home Premier Series event.
Santoso and Nehwal Take Titles
The stranglehold of the Chinese on these events has been loosened with the results of this week, albeit with Lee Chong Wei injured and the Chinese squad in their Olympic camp ahead of London 2012. There was still a Chinese presence in both singles events, with a Chinese player in both finals. Simon Santoso defeated Du Pengyu in the men’s singles final in three games in the longest final of the day at 79 minutes whilst Sain Nehwal overcame Li Xuerui after saving two match points in the second game, before claiming her second victory in six attempts over the 4th seeded Chinese player.
Ahmad and Natsir Denied
Lee and Jung claimed the men’s doubles title in 76-minutes, after being taken to three games by the Danish pair of Boe and Mogensen who have now lost their last three meetings with the Korean pair. Wang and Yu defeated Tian and Zhao in three games to claim their 8th victory in their last nine meetings between the top two pairs in the world in the shortest match of the day, which still took over an hour.
The last match of the day seen Ahmad and Natsir take on the Thai pairing of Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam, but the expectations of a nation were too much of the Indonesian pair, after dropping the opening game they fought back to ensure a deciding game but they were never in the 3rd game, with the Thai pairing expanding on their lead before claiming the title 21-13 in the deciding game.
The Chinese contingent in Indonesia lost some of it’s stars as Saina Nehwal claimed her 3rd victory against Wang Shixian in a 96-minute classic.
Unlikely Bunch In Last 4
Parupalli, Hu, Santoso and Du. One of those four names would claim the men’s singles title and their first Premier Series title. Parupalli’s stunning week continued with a victory over Hans-Kristian Vittinghus to set up a semi final against Simon Santoso of China. Du Pengyu ended the run of Sony Dwi Kuncoro to book his place in the last four against Hu Yun of Hong Kong, who defeated Tien Minh Nguyen to reach the semi final stage.
Both Wang Xin and Wang Shixian crashed out of the women’s singles, with the 2nd seed losing out to Sung Ju Hyun in two close games. Wang Shixian lost her third of her four meetings with Saina Nehwal, with the 3rd seed having to save three match points to win in the second game but Nehwal was too strong in the third and booked her place in the last 4. The other semi final is an all-Chinese affair between the top seeded Wang Yihan and Li Xuerui, seeded 4. Both defeated their European opponents in the semi final, with Wang Yihan needing just two games to defeat Tine Baun.
World’s Elite Into Last 4
Whilst the singles had an unlikely bunch at this stage of the week, the doubles was very much business as usual. Lee and Jung were still on track for their matchup with Boe and Mogensen in the final on Sunday with both pairs progressing into the last 4 without the loss of a game today. Boe and Mogensen take on the 8th seeded Koo and Tan of Malaysia in their semi final whilst Lee and Jung take on the last Indonesian hope in the draw, Kido and Setiawan.
Wang and Yu enjoyed a day off as they watched their team mates Bao and Zhong book their place in the semi final against the top seeded pair. Jauhari and Polii are the sole Indonesian pair left in the draw where they take on the second seeded Tian and Zhao.
Zhang and Zhao crashed out of the mixed doubles to Thailand’s Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam in a day of surprises in the mixed doubles, with the 4th seeded Fischer Neilsen also crashing out to Ko and Eom of Korea, who defeated their team-mates Laybourn and Rytter Juhl in the first round. The 2nd seeded Xu and Ma are safely into the last 4, where they will take on the 3rd seeded Indonesian pairing of Ahmad and Natsir for a place in Sunday’s final.
Olympic build-ups were brought to an abrupt end as big names crashed out in Indonesia for the second day running, only today seen a massive upset as Chen Long crashed out in the second round.
Chen Long Out
Kashyup Parupalli was too strong for Chen Long in a one-sided match, winning the match in two games in just 44 minutes. The world number 24 takes on another unseeded player in Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, who defeated the 5th seeded Lee Hyun Il to take the number of seeds left in the draw down to just two. Simon Santoso is the last seed left in the top half of the draw whilst Du Pengyu is the sole seed left in the bottom half of the draw. The 8th seeded Chinese player will play the on-form Sony Dwi Kuncoro, who defeated Taufik Hidayat in an all-Indonesian second round clash.
Seven of the 8 seeds remain in the women’s singles draw, with the 6th seeded Jiang Yanjiao defeated by Sung Ji Hyun of Korea to ensure 8 of the top 10 players in the world are represented at the quarter final stage. Wang Xin is the Korean’s next opponent in an fantastic line-up of quarter final matches. Wang Shixian takes on Saina Nehwal in the other quarter final match in the bottom half of the draw. The top half of the draw sees the top seeded Wang Yihan taking on Tine Baun, whilst Li Xuerui takes on Juliane Schenk.
Usual Suspects In Last 8
The perennial contenders in the doubles events are again into the last 8, with Lee and Jung headlining the men’s doubles draw. The 2nd seeded Korean pair take on Malaysia’s Hoon and Tan for a place in the semi finals, whilst the 3rd seeded Boe and Mogensen are the top seeds in the top half of the draw and take on Chai and Guo of China in the only all-seeded quarter final.
Wang and Yu have already booked their place in the semi final, after winning their second round match and their quarter final opponents of Matsuo and Naito withdrew from the event. Bao and Zhong defeated the 4th seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa to book their place in the last 8 and will take on the 7th seeded Jung and Kim of Korea for a semi final match against the top seeds. Tian and Zhao are safely into the last 8 and will take on another Chinese pair in the quarter finals, Huan and Tang.
Zhao Yunlei is also safely into the last 8 in the mixed doubles with her partner Zhang Nan, with the top seeds taking on Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam for a place in the semi finals. Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen are the sole Danish pair left in the draw and take on the Korean pairing of Ko and Eom who ended their team-mates Laybourn and Rytter Juhl’s run in the opening round. Xu and Ma’s reward for defeating He and Bao is another all-Chinese match in the quarter finals, taking on Jiaming and Huan for a place in the last 4.
The last major event before the Olympics has attracted the worlds best to Indonesia for the 3rd Premier Series event of 2012, but for Denmark it has been an early exit for many of it’s top players.
Gade and Axelsen Out
Sony Dwi Kuncoro added another big name scalp to his recent run of good form, after defeating Lin Dan in Thailand he disposed of the 3rd seeded Peter Gade in three games to claim one of the biggest casualties of the men’s singles to date. The biggest casualty was the 2nd seeded Chen Jin, who retired from his match against Jan O Jorgensen trailing a game and 10-7 in the second game. Viktor Axelsen crashed out to Ajay Jayaram but there was a second Dane through to the last 16, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus defeated Daren Liew to set up a second round match against Lee Hyun Il.
All five of the Chinese seeds are safely into the second round, with both Wang Xin and Wang Shixian needing three games to advance into the last 16. Saina Nehwal and Tine Baun also needed three games to progress in their opening round match whilst two of the Chinese seeds needed less than a game to progress with Wang Yihan and Jiang Yanjiao benefitting from retirements from their opponents.
Indonesian Presence In Doubles
There is a large contingent of Indonesia pairs left in the draw, but the top seeds are still safely in the draw also. Lee and Jung are the top seeded pair that started the week and started with a simple two game win to reach the last 16. Their main threats this week will come from the 3rd seeded Boe and Mogensen and 4th seeded Ko and Yoo who both progressed without the loss of a game. The main Indonesian threat will come from Kido and Setiawan, after the unseeded pair took out the 7th seeded Fang and Lee in the opening round.
Pedersen and Rytter Juhl are the biggest names to crash out of the women’s doubles, losing to Indonesia’s Bernadeth and Pradipta in two games. The top seeded Wang and Yu took little time in reaching the last 16, losing just 10 points on route to the second round. Their perennial rivals Zhao and Tian also safely progressed into the second round with a two game victory.
Zhang and Zhao defeated Adcock and Bankier in the biggest match of the day in the mixed doubles, with the world number 1 pairing winning in two games to reach the last 16. Laybourn and Rytter Juhl compounded a poor day for the Danes by crashing out at the first round against Ko and Eom in two games. The bottom half of the draw is littered with Chinese pairings, with the standout match of the second round being the 2nd seeded Xu and Ma taking on He and Bao in an all-Chinese second round clash.
Sixteen nations begun the week in Wuhan but come the weekend, only two remain. China and Korea will fight it out for Uber Cup glory on Saturday, then once more for the Thomas Cup on Sunday.
Korea’s hopes this week fell on a squad without Jung Jae Sung, but Lee Hyun Il gave them the perfect start with a victory over Peter Gade, whose form recently has been far from the heights of even a year ago. Boe and Mogensen ensured parity after 2 matches with a convincing two game victory over Ko and Yoo. Then came the between the world number 13 and 14 for a chance to put their nation within a match of the Thomas Cup final. Shon Wan Ho defeated Jan O Jorgensen in three games to put Korea on the brink of the final. 73 minutes later, they were in the final as Lee and Kim defeated Rasmussen and Fischer Neilsen to ensure Korea’s place in Sunday’s final. For Denmark, it was a stunning loss that could have been avoided had Gade not lost his opening singles, with Viktor Axelsen waiting in the 5th match to take on the world number 166 Lee Dong Keun.
China needed just 3 matches and 6 games to book their place in the final. Lin Dan started the semi final with a two game victory over Sho Sasaki, soon followed by Cai and Fu winning their doubles. Chen Long completed the task against Kenichi Tago in an hour to book China’s place in the Thomas Cup Final.
It was a pair of one-sided finals in the Uber Cup, with Korea defeating Japan 3-0 with the loss of just a single game but the story this week has been the dominance of the Chinese. Wang Yihan started with a two game victory over Inthanon Ratchanok, then the world number 1 pairing of Wang and Yu put China within a match of the final but the most impressive performance was left until last. Wang Xin’s stunning 21-17, 21-2 victory over Porntip Buranaprasertsuk was a message of intent after their stunning 2010 loss to Korea in the Uber Cup final.
Three powerhouses in world badminton have all safely progressed into the semi final stages of both events, with Denmark and Thailand hoping to claim at least one title in Wuhan this week.
China’s 3-0 victory was a foregone conclusion without the presence of Lee Chong Wei, Daren Liew gave them a brief moment of hope when he surprisingly took the opening game against Lin Dan, only for the world number 2 to fight back to win the next two dropping just 14 points. Cai and Fu doubled the advantage with a two game victory over Koo and Tam before Chen Long sealed the 3-0 win in two games. Their opponents in the semi final will be Japan, who needed all five games to seal their place in the last 4 against Indonesia. Santoso gave Indonesia a 1-0 lead before Kido and Setiawan once against lost to a lower ranked pair and have been the weak point of the Indonesian team this week. Kenichi Tago defeated Taufik Hidayat to put Japan on the brink of the semi final, only for Ahsan and Septano to win a vital elimination match to take the rubber to the final match. Takuma Ueda stunning victory over Dionysius Hayom Runbaka gave Japan a 3-2 victory and a place in Friday’s semi final.
Korea and Denmark meet in the second semi final, with both nations progressing 3-0. Denmark were too strong for Russia, as they dropped just a single game on route to the last 4. Korea also only dropped a single match on route to the last 4 and both nations will be pleased to have missed China in the semi finals.
China were simply too strong for a German squad without Juliane Schenk to lead the line, the 3-0 victory was an accurate result given the gulf in class between the two nations. China’s opponents in the semi final are Thailand, who defeated Denmark 3-1 in their quarter final. Denmark were always going to need two special performances to have any chance against the Thais, but Tine Baun’s sole victory in the opening singles was all that they could get as they fell in 4 matches.
The current Uber Cup champions Korea were one game away from elimination, down 2-1 and level at one game all in the 4th match of their rubber against Chinese Taipei. The world number 3 pairing of Ha and Kim lost their match, as well as the world number 13 Bae Youn Joo after Sung Ji Hyun’s opening victory. Kim and Jung won the 4th match in three games to take the game to a 5th and deciding match, where Hwang Hye Youn won the 3rd singles match to ensure Korea’s qualification into the last 4 in a quarter final that should have been a routine victory. Japan made hard work of their quarter final also, squandering a 2-0 lead after Eriko Hirose and the world number 7 pairing of Niato and Matsuo also failed to win their matches to make the score 2-2 going into the final match. Minatsu Mitani saved Japan’s blushes with a two game victory to reach the semi final stage, with both nations supposed stronger players failing to perform on the day.
It was a week for parity to be restored within all five events, with none of the top seeds claiming an All England title to make the run-up to the Olympics all the more exciting.
Turning The Tide In The Chinese Squad
The biggest shocks of the day came in the women’s events, none more so than Tian and Zhao’s demolition of the world number 1 pairing of Wang and Yu. The 21-19, 21-13 scoreline was a accurate representation of the difference, with Wang Xiaoli looking especially flustered by the occasion. Li Xuerui topped Wang Yihan in the women’s singles final as the balance of power within these events is turning towards the lower seeded players and pairings. Li Xuerui was outside the top 10 just 3 months ago but has claimed victories over the world number 4 Saina Nehwal and world number 1 this week.
Indonesia And Korea Claim Titles
The hope of a European winner this week ended in a 43-minute final that seen Ahmad and Natsir defeated the Danish pairing of Laybourn and Rytter Juhl, with the Dane’s impressive run ending at the final hurdle. Lee and Jung took an 11-10 lead in their rivalry over Cai and Fu as they topped the top seeds in three games to tip the balance back on their side just ahead of the Olympics.
A Disappointing End
Even before the match started, there were injury concerns with Lee Chong Wei and throughout the opening game there were signs that the match wasn’t going to go the distance. The Malaysian received treatment during the opening game and after losing the opener 21-19, received yet more treatment. The second game lasted all but 8 points with Lin Dan ahead 6-2 before Lee Chong Wei’s retirement through injury. It is another disappointing exit for one of the world’s great players at the All England, with Gade’s defeating on the opening night.
Three of the biggest rivalries in the game are to be renewed on the finals stage as China’s hope to claim 5 titles ends today.
Lee Takes On Lin
The top two players in the world will meet for the 28th time and the 4th time at the All Englands. Both have secured their place in the final without the loss of a game this week and Lee Chong Wei complete their route to the finals with a victory over Lee Hyun Il, whilst Lin Dan defeated Kenichi Tago to reach tomorrow’s final. Lee Chong Wei has never strung two victories together against Lin Dan, he will hope to change that after defeating Lin Dan in Korea in their previous encounter in January.
All Chinese Finals In All England
Wang Yihan takes on Li Xuerui tomorrow’s women’s singles final after the world number defeated Wang Shixian in her semi final whilst Li Xuerui beat Tai Tzu Ying in the second of the semi finals. The 7th seed does not hold a good record against the top seeded Wang Yihan in previous encounters, losing all of her previous four encounters. Wang and Yu renew their rivalry with Tian and Zhao in the women’s doubles final, with both pairs meeting little resistance on route to the final. It will be their 9th meeting with Wang and Yu winning their last 7 matches.
The 21st Encounter
Cai and Fu take on Lee and Jung for the 21st time in the All England final, with their historic rivalry tired at 10 wins apiece. Cai and Fu have won the previous two matches but this is their first meeting in the All England final, with both pairs not losing a game this week on route to tomorrow’s final with Lee and Jung being especially impressive in their victory over Boe and Mogensen in their semi final.
The mixed doubles final is the only final without Chinese interest, with Laybourn and Rytter Juhl ending the run of the 2011 champions Xu and Ma at the semi final stage in a two game victory. The 4th seeded Ahmad and Natsir will be the Danes opponent in the final after ending the run of the Malaysian pair of Chan and Goh. It will be their 3rd meeting with the Danish pair taking their most recent match in China last November.