Can Zweibler Keep The Momentum?

With the pending retirement of Lee Chong Wei looming after the 2012 Olympics, the Malaysian world #1 has focused all of his efforts this year claiming one of the few titles to elude him in his career. His performances this year has propelled him to the undoubted favourite for the title, even with Lin Dan in the draw. The Chinese 2nd seed has also allegedly set his retirement after the 2012 Games in London, with both players not even reaching 30. China’s big hope has hand picked the events he has played since his Olympic triumph in Beijing three years ago.

There is the European threat, with Peter Gade who never considered a retirement before the age of 30 but still looking to claim his first world title. He is seeded 3rd this year to break up the Asian dominance in the top seeds this year. The next generation could break through this year with the likes of Chen Long, Kenichi Tago and Du Pengyu all receiving seeds this year.

There are some players to watch also from the 48 unseeded players, Kazushi Yamada reached the last 8 in Paris last year, Shon Wan Ho was a top 16 this year and Spain’s Pablo Abian is one of the most consistent players on the EBU Circuit.

The Favourites:

Lee Chong Wei

Seeded – 1

2010 Result – Quarter Finals

1st Round Opponent – Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (Thailand)

Likely Threats – Park Sung Hwan (Last 16) Chen Long (QF)

His performances in the past 8 months have put him at a level of invincibility that Lin Dan had going into the 2008 Olympics.  His opener against the world #32 Saensomboonsuk is s favourable start as Lee Chong Wei could have hoped for. He hold a 5-0 head to head advantage and has failed to drop a game in any of the five matches.

His 3rd round match if the seeds go according to plan is the world #9 Park Sung Hwan, who he holds an 11-1 head to head advantage against with that single victory for the Korean coming in 2004. Chen Long is a likely quarter final opponent,  but the Chinese player has only claimed a single win over the Malaysian in five matches and that was in 2009.

This event is ultimately Lee Chong Wei’s to lose.  With four Super Series victories in 2011 already to his name as well as winning two of their last three Super Series against Lin Dan.

Lin Dan

Seeded – 2

2010 Result – Quarter Finals

1st Round Opponent – Kestutis Navickas (Lithuania)

Likely Threats – Peter Gade (SF)

The 2009 world champion tamely crashed out last year and controversy had surrounded the Chinese player since.  Withdrawals before matches with Chinese players has been given as various injuries but losses to Sho Sasaki as well as Lee Chong Wei on numerous occasions have seen Lin Dan’s aura of invincibility disappear.

It will be his first meeting with Navickas on his opening round match, with a massive question mark looming over a potential quarterfinal match with Du Pengyu. Peter Gade should be his likely semi final opponent, who defeated him in the Swiss Open in 2010 but his overall record over the Dane is an impressive 14-3 in the Chinese players favour.

Lin Dan is capable of winning this event, if he turns up without the controversy that his plagued him for the past 12 months.

The Contenders

Peter Gade

Seeded – 3

2010 Result – Semi Finals

1st Round Opponent – Rajiv Ouseph (England)

Likely Threats – Simon Santoso (Last 16) Lin Dan (SF)

The 34-year old goes into the event knowing that he is capable of reaching the final of the world championships, a feat he accomplished ten years ago in Seville. His record against the top two seeds is poor, to say the least but his sole victory of Lee Chong Wei resulted in his last Super Series victory (Korean Open, 2009).

His opening match against England’s Rajiv Ouseph is a favourable one, with the Dane holding a 6-0 head to head advantage and the Englishman failing to claim a single game in any of the six defeats. His 3rd round match against Simon Santoso will be his first main test, with the Indonesian claiming a victory this year against Gade in Korea.

Chen Jin

Seeded – 6

2010 Result – Winner

1st Round Opponent – Raul Must (Estonia)

Likely Threats – Taufik Hidayat (QF) Lee Chong Wei (SF)

To say that Chen Jin was a surprise winner last year would be an understatement. It was so improbable that few could have believed that a Taufik Hidayat – Chen Jin final was possible. The two could potentially meet once again at the last 8 stage, with Chen Jin leading the head to head 3-1.

Raul Must is Chen Jin’s first opponent this week and their first meeting ever. Chen Jin’s recent form has been average, after inheriting the Singapore Open title with a Lin Dan withdrawal and three defeats to Sho Sasaki this year has seriously dented his credentials of retaining his world title.

Taufik Hidayat

Seeded – 4

2010 – Runner-Up

1st Round Opponent – Rodrigo Pacheco Carrillo (Peru)

Likely Threats – Chen Jin (QF) Lee Chong Wei (SF)

Taufik Hidayat took the decision to play the US Open and Canada Open in the build up to the World Championships and suffered a double dose of defeat from Marc Zwiebler, who defeated him in both tournaments.

His opening match against Peruvian Rodrigo Pacheco is one of the easiest matches the Indonesian could have faced and has already defeated the world #61 previously in the world championships, albeit eight years previously.

Hidayat has to prove he is capable of competing with the top 10 players once again and put the double disappointment of the US and Canada Open behind him.

The Outsiders

Marc Zweibler

Seeded – 14

2010 Result – 3rd Round

1st Round Opponent – Valeriy Atrashchenkov (Ukraine)

Likely Threats – Chen Long (Last 16) Lee Chong Wei (QF)

No player is coming into the event on a better run of form than the German, two victories in the US Open and Canada Open has put him well inside the top 20 in the world and with a very favourable opening two rounds before his biggest test against Chen Long.

Kazushi Yamada

Unseeded

2010 Result – Quarter Finals

1st Round Opponent – Daniel Paiola (Brazil)

Likely Threats – Du Pengyu (Last 32)

He appeared from almost nowhere in 2010 before losing out to Peter Gade in the quarterfinals, his run last year was a warning to all of the top players that the world championships is the premier event of the year and anyone can beat anyone on their day, can Yamada repeat the feat in 2011?

Sho Sasaki

Seeded – 11

2010 Result – Did Not Play

1st Round Opponent – Brice Leverdez (France)

Likely Threats – Du Pengyu (Last 16) Lin Dan (QF)

His impressive 2011 has made him into a player that nobody wants to face, Lin Dan, Chen Jin, Boonsak Ponsana , Park Sung Hwan and Tien Minh Nguyen have all lost to Sasaki in 2011. His second round match could be easier than his opener against Leverdez, who Sasaki was ranked lower than 12 month previously.

Kenichi Tago

Seeded – 15

2010 Result – 2nd Round

1st Round Opponent – Ajay Jayaram (India)

Likely Threats – Chen Jin (Last 16) Taufik Hidayat (QF)

His heroics in the 2010 All England proved he could play with the best in the world, his impressive wins over Zweibler and Santoso in the Sudirman was a reminder just a few months ago that he is a player not to be taken likely. His most recent match against his potential 3rd round opponent was a victory over Chen Jin in his run the 2010 All England final.

Play begins on August 8, with two days of first round matches.

Men’s Singles Draw:

Taufik Tops Draw in Singapore

The second of three events in June takes the world’s best to Singapore, with only Lee Chong Wei missing from the men’s singles field. China have all of their big names here this week ahead of next week’s Premier Series event in Indonesia too.

Taufik Hidayat is the top seed this week with Lee Chong Wei’s absence and could face a real battle to progress this week with three Chinese players in his half of the draw. Wang Zhengming likely waits in the second round with Bao Chunlai and Chen Long looming should the Indonesian progress into the weekend. Viktor Axelsen gets a second shot at Wong Choong Hann inside of a week and world champion Chen Jin is unseeded this week and is also in the top half of the draw. Lin Dan is the 2nd seed this week and starts his campaign aganinst Shon Wan Ho before likely taking on the winner of Jan O Jorgensen and Kenichi Tago. Peter Gade starts his campaign this week against Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia before likely quarter final match against Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand.

Saina Nehwal begins her campaign this week against Lu Lan, again. The 4th seeded Indian also has Tine Baun in her half of the draw, but the top seed is China’s Wang Shixian who could face Wang Lin in an all-Chinese 2nd round match. Wang Yihan and Wang Xin are the big threats from the bottom half of the draw, but there is unseeded threats in the way of Ai Goto, Eriko Hirose, Yao Jie and Pi Hongyan.

The big shock in the men’s doubles is the pre-event withdrawal of top seeded Danish pair Boe and Mogensen, with the pair in a poor run of form since their performance at the Sudirman Cup. The main beneficiaries are the 3rd seeded Ko and Yoo whose run in the top half of the draw has become all the more easier. The bottom half of the draw is headlined by Lee and Jung, seeded 2 and the 4th seeded Cai and Fu of China, who are set to meet at the semi final stages this week. The match to look out for tomorrow is the 6th seeded Kido and Setiawan taking on the unseeded Bach and Gunawan in the opening round.

With no Wang and Yu this week, the Japanese pair of Maeda and Suetsuna are top seeds this week. However they face a new Chinese partnership in Ma and Pan who are both accomplished players within the Chinese ranks and are playing their first event together. Tian and Zhao, last weeks winners in Thailand are also in the top half of the draw. The 2nd seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa have less competitive half of the draw, with only Jauhari and Polii, Ha and Kim and Vislova and Sorokina as main threats to the Japanese pair.

The top half of the mixed doubles is loaded with potential winners, from the top seeded Zhang and Zhao to 4th seeded Ahmad and Natsir and countless unseeded pairings capable of putting a good run this week together. Hashimoto and Fujii, He and Yu, Xu and Ma, Lee and Ha, Widianto and Marissa as well as Nikolaenko and Sorokina are all in the top half of the draw. The bottom half as a distinct European feel to it, from the 3rd seeded Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen as well as the 5th seeded Laybourn and Rytter Juhl of Denmark. There are three British pairs in Robertson and Wallwork, Adcock and Bankier as well as German Open winners White and Blair but there is still a Chinese threat in the 6th seeded Jiaming and Tian.

The Draws:

sony_over_lee

Kuncoro Moves On To Semis

Sony Kuncoro’s excellent run of form continues on as the 7th seed progressed to the last 4 with a two game victory over Wong Choong Hann of Malaysia setting up a semi final clash with top seed Lee Chong Wei. The Malaysian had to battle his way past Kenichi Tago, the 8th seed in three games to book his place in tomorrow semi final. The other semi final sees 3rd seed Tien Minh Nguyen, who defeated Sho Sasaki in the quarter finals today take on 2nd seed and local favourite Taufik Hidayat who won his all-Indonesian clash with Simon Santoso in just over an hour in three games.

Saina Nehwal is on course for her second Super Series title in two weeks after defeating 8th seeded Ella Diehl in today’s quarter final. She takes on 4th seeded Eriko Hirose in the last 4 after defeating 5th seeded Yao Jie in three tight games. The other semi final is an unseeded affair, with local qualifier Ana Rovita coming through an all-Indonesian quarter final to book her place in the semi final against Sayaka Sato, who defeated Zhou Mi in Round 1 and Yip Pui Yin in the Quarter Finals, the only two seeds on the bottom half of the draw.

Only one seed remains in the men’s doubles, with the 6th seeded Hashimoto and Hirata defeating top seeded Koo and Tan in the quarter finals. They play unseeded Koreans Cho and Kwon after they defeated the 8th seeded Kim and Shin in an all-Korean quarter final. Clark and Robertson continue their excellent vein of form as they beat Indonesian pair Ahsan and Septano in the last 8. They will play Fang and Lee in the semis after they took out the 5th seeded Bach and Gunawan of the USA.

Widianto and Natsir edge ever closer to winning their home tournament as they stormed into the semi finals, where they will play Mateusiak and Zieba of Poland who came through a three game match with unseeded Indonesian pair of Teng and Bernadet in the quarters. The unseeded Indonesian/Russian pairing of Russkikih and Setiawan are also through to the last 4, the remaining unseeded pair in the mixed doubles draw. They will play the 7th seeded Korean pair of Ko and Ha who defeated the 2nd seed and current world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl in their quarter final match.

Friday’s Complete Results

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