It was a day with German, Danish and Indian involvement hoping to overcome the odds to reach the last 4 against a fierce contingent of local players and the all-conquering Chinese. For the most part, the latter pair of nations took the spoils.
Lee and Lin Ever Closer To A Korean Rematch
Form might be temporary, but this week has seen the form players in the world reach the last 4 with the unlikely inclusion of Du Pengyu who announced his arrival this week with his opening round demolition of Peter Gade. The Chinese player now has his toughest match of the week against the world number 1 Lee Chong Wei, with the hope of setting up a potential all-Chinese final after the Malaysia defeating Kenichi Tago once more in their one-sided rivalry. Lin Dan would be the second part of the final, with a three game victory over Jan O Jorgensen setting up a semi final against Sho Sasaki who ended European chances in the event with his two game victory over Marc Zwiebler.
A Chinese Monopoly Broken
China hoped for an all-Chinese semi final line-up to cement their place at the top of the women’s singles game, however Bae Youn Joo did not read the script in her victory over Li Xuerui to break the Chinese monopoly of the last 4 places. The Korean takes on Wang Shixian in the semi final, with the 2nd seed failing to drop a game to this point. The other semi final is an all-Chinese clash between the world number 1 Wang Yihan and Jiang Yanjiao. The top seed ended European hopes with a two game victory over Germany’s Juliane Schenk whilst Jiang Yanjiao ended India’s hopes with her own two game victory over Saina Nehwal.
China And Korea Dominate Doubles
Of the 12 pairs remaining in the three doubles events, only two are not Korean or Chinese. The men’s doubles has a Korean majority of 3 to 1 over it’s Chinese rivals. With Cai and Fu the lone Chinese hope in the event. The top seeds take on Ko and Yoo of Korea for a place in Sunday’s final whilst Lee and Jung take on their countrymen Kim and Kim who ended Hong and Shen’s run this week to ensure a sole Chinese entry in the semi finals.
The women’s doubles has two China-Korea matches, with Wang and Yu taking on Ha and Kim in the first semi final in a meeting that has been monumentally one sided. The 6-0 advantage to the Chinese pair is a similar record to most of the other pairs in the world as the world number 1 pair look to extended their unbeaten run to a calendar year. The other semi final sees Tian and Zhao take on Jung and Kim, an unseeded pair who defeated the 7th seeded Matsuo and Naito to reach this stage.
European hopes lay in the mixed doubles, with interest in both semi finals. Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen will be the pair that people will easily recognise, they take on Xu and Ma in the second semi final between the top highest seeds left in the draw. The other semi final features Lee Yong Dae, looking for a historic double in his home country with partner Ha Jung Eun. The Korean pair take on the Russian pairing of Nikolaenko and Sorokina, who defeated He and Yixin in their quarter final in the biggest win of their careers to date.
After losing the top seed in the mixed doubles, the Chinese squad got back on track in Seoul today whilst the Danish contingent had little to celebrate in the second round.
Four Seeds Remain
The top two in the world progressed to the last 8 with both needing the full three games to ensure their place in the quarter finals. Lee Chong Wei was tested by Shon Wan Ho before eventually setting up his quarter final match with Kenichi Tago. Simon Santoso is the other seed remaining in the top half of the draw who will likely move up the rankings after this week after securing a quarter final match against Du Pengyu who continues his excellent run with a three game victory over Hu Yun.
A lot was expected of Marc Zwiebler after his double victory over Taufik Hidayat and he has finally delivered with a run to a Premier quarter final against Sho Sasaki. The Japanese 6th seed was impressive in his two game victory over Wang Zhengming to ensure his place in the last 8. Jan O Jorgensen claimed the biggest scalp of the day in his victory over Chen Jin in three games to set up a quarter final against Lin Dan, who had his own struggles in beating Lee Hyun Il before progressing in three games.
Chinese Presence In All Quarter Finals
All four of the quarter finals will have some Chinese presence as the three seeded players are joined in the last 8 by Li Xuerui. Juliane Schenk is the sole European in the draw but will have a tough test to still be in the draw after the end of play tomorrow as she takes on Wang Yihan, whilst Jiang Yanjiao or Saina Nehwal will face the winner depending on the result of their quarter final in the top half of the draw. Wang Shixian takes on Gu Juan for a place in the last 4 whilst the only non-seeded Chinese player Li Xuerui takes on Bae Youn Joo in the second quarter final in the bottom half of the draw.
Seeds Topple In Men’s Doubles
Only three seeds remain in the draw, with a Cai/Fu versus Lee/Jung final looming large. Boe and Mogensen crashed out to Hong and Shen of China who take on Korea’s Kim and Kim for a place in the semi final. Lee and Jung needed three games to ensure their place in the last 8 where they will take on the Chinese Taipei pair of Fang and Lee a place in the last 4. Cai and Fu saved a match point before booking their place in the quarter finals against the German pairing of Fuchs and Roth, the last remaining European pair in the draw. Ko and Yoo will hope to ensure an all-Korean final as they try to progress into the last 4 in their match against Endo and Hayakawa of Japan.
Chinese Powerhouses Cruise Into Last 8
Wang and Yu progressed into the last 8 in straight forward fashion, and were joined by their team-mates Tian and Zhao in equally impressive fashion. The prospect of a ninth meeting of the year in Sunday is almost a foregone conclusion, such is their gap at the top of the world’s elite. Xu and Ma are into the last 8 in the mixed doubles and take on the 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl in their quarter final matchup. Whilst in the top half, He and Yixin ensured a Chinese involvement after their victory over Adcock and Bankier in the second round.
Several seeds crashed out of the opening round in Seoul, but there were some big-name departures on the opening day also.
Gade & Taufik Crash Out
Whilst Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan both progressed into the second round, the two big surprises were the loss of the 3rd and 4th seeded players. Chen Long retired from his opening round match with Hsu Jen Hao trailing 20-15 in the first game whilst Peter Gade was comprehensively beaten by Du Pengyu of China, with the Dane losing 21-9, 21-12. Gade cited his busy schedule over the last 4 months as a factor in his defeat to the world number 11.
Kenichi Tago disposed of the 7th seeded Tien Minh Nugyen to take the number of seeds left in the event down to 5. The big match not containing a seed seen Taufik Hidayat crash out at the first round to England’s Rajiv Ouseph to further question the Indonesian’s ability to qualify for the London Olympics.
Seeds Topple In Women’s Singles
There was a similar story in the women’s singles, with 3rd seeded Wang Xin losing out to Bae Youn Joo in third games as well as Sung Ji Hyun crashing out to Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in two games. Wang Yihan needed three games to defeat Jie Yao but there was no such trouble for Wang Shixian who progressed safely into the second round.
Denmark Lead European Charge
With the loss of Gade, the Danes will rely on their doubles partnerships to bring some success in Seoul. Boe and Mogensen needed three games to defeat the 2005 world champs Bach and Gunawan and are joined in the last 16 by Conrad-Petersen and Rasmussen who take on the 4th seeded Ko and Yoo in the second round. The top two seeds in the men’s doubles both progressed in straightforward fashion, winning their matches in 2 games.
Wang and Yu reminded everyone why they are the best pair in the world with a merciless 21-7, 21-5 victory over Wang and Wang of the USA. Tian and Zhao also progressed easily to set up their all Chinese second round against Yixin and Zhong. The lone Danish pair left is Rytter Juhl and Pedersen who take on the 7th seeded Japanese pairing of Matsuo and Naito who were impressive in their 21-7, 21-9 over Grether and Reid of Canada.
The biggest shock of the day came in the mixed doubles as top seeded Zhao and Zhang crashed out to the British pair of Adcock and Bankier in a rematch of the 2011 World Championship final. The British pair take on another Chinese pair in the second round, facing He and Yixin. Xu and Ma lead the Chinese charge and take on the Russian qualifiers Durkin and Vislova in their second round match. The Danes have two seeded pairs remaining, the 3rd seeded Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen faught back from a game down to reach the last 16 whilst the 8th seeded Laybourn and Rytter Juhl defeated the British pairing of Blair and White to reach the last 16.
With a new Super Series season starting the BWF is once again providing free live streaming in select countries. The first event of the year is the Victor Korea Open 2012.
The coverage begins at 4am GMT on Thursday January 5th.
Round of 16
The first event of 2012 takes the world’s elite to Seoul for the biggest prize money of the year in the opening Super Series Premier event.
Tough Start For Gade
Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan both avoided a potentially tough opener, with the world number 1 taking on Kashyap Parupalli of India whilst Lin Dan has a first round clash with Spain’s Pablo Abian. Chen Long takes on a qualifier whilst Peter Gade has the toughest draw of the top four seeds as he takes on Du Pengyu of China. The world number 4 and world number 11 clash in the biggest match of the opening day of play. Gade holds a 3-0 head to head advantage and won their most recent encounter in China in late November last year.
Tien Minh Nguyen will be tested in his opening round match against Keinchi Tago in another fantastic opening round match with countless intriguing encounters taking place out with the seeded players. Boonsak Ponsana and Wang Zhengming also clash in the opening round, as well as Lee Hyun Il taking on Wong Wing Ki. Taufik Hidayat starts with a potential banana skin against Rajiv Ouseph of England, with a loss almost ensure he will drop out of the top 16 in the world.
Chinese Presence Throughout
The top 3 seeds in the women’s singles are as expected, Chinese. With Wang Yihan claiming the top seed and an opening round match against Jie Yao of Holland, Wang Shixian is seeded 2 and takes on Fu Mingtian of Singapore. The 3rd seed Wang Xin takes on Bae Youn Joo of Korea in the toughest of the three encounters, taking on the world number 14. Saina Nehwal takes on Susan Egelstaff in a rematch of the 2010 Commonwealth Games semi final whilst the final Chinese seed, Jiang Yanjiao take on Bulgaria’s Linda Zechiri in the opening round.
European hopes lie with Tine Baun, seeded 5th this week the Dane takes on the Canadian Michelle Li in a potentially tough opener. Juliane Schenk is seeded 7 but faces Liu Xin of China in her opening match in the biggest match of the opening round in the women’s singles draw. Liu Xin is ranked 10 in the world and holds a 2-0 head to head advantage against her German opponent.
The 3rd Force In Men’s Doubles?
Boe and Mogensen come into 2012 as the form pair in the men’s doubles after success in the Super Series Finals before Christmas and come into this week seeded 3. Their opening round match is against the 2005 world champions, Bach and Gunawan of the USA with a potential rematch with Lee and Jung in the semi finals. The 2nd seeds are the defending champions and take on Kumar and Thomas of India in their opening round match.
Top seeds Cai and Fu crashed out of the Super Series Finals at the group stage and have a potentially tough opener against the Polish pair of Logosz and Cwalina whilst the 4th seeded Korean pair of Ko and Yoo take on the Chinese pairing of Liu and Qiu of China, who are ranked 15 in the world.
Wang And Yu Still The Pair To Beat
World number 1 since June and haven’t lost a match since January of last year, Wang and Yu are the super power of the women’s doubles and come into 2012 looking for an unthinkable run of a year without losing a match. They start 2012 with a opening round match against Wang and Wang of the USA and a likely matchup with the 2nd seeded Zhao and Tian in the final on Sunday. Zhao and Tian start their campaign against Agustin and Maheswari of Indonesia.
2011 World Championship Rematch
Zhang and Zhao take on Adcock and Bankier in a rematch of the 2011 World Championship final, this time in the opening round in Korea. It is a tough blow for the British pair hoping to grab valuable ranking points in a 3-way fight for an Olympic place with Robertson and Wallwork as well as White and Blair. The 8th seeds and 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl wait in the first round for White and Blair. The 2nd seeded Xu and Ma start with a tough opener of their own, taking on Widianto and Marissa of Indonesia with both previous meetings going to three games.
Lee and Eun of Korea are the wildcard of the draw, they take on a qualifier in their opening round before a likely second round match with Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam of Thailand.
The 2012 Olympics signals the end of four legendary careers, with the hope of a last great battle between Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan for the Olympic gold on August 5, 2012. August of this year provided with perhaps the greatest advertisement for the game that there has ever been as Lee Chong Wei took on Lin Dan for the 2011 World Championship.
Malaysia expected as Lee Chong Wei had two match points to claim his first world title, only for Lin Dan to break a nations heart with his refusal to be beaten. A nation distraught as China claimed a clean sweep in London as Lin Dan ripped off his top in celebration after his historic victory. It was the defining image of 2011, that the Chinese were still the nation to beat and that Lin Dan will still the man to beat.
As much as the Chinese tactics are questionable on how they get so many players to qualify, there is little doubting they are the nation to beat going into next years Olympics. Malaysia and Lee Chong Wei’s last chance waits in London once more, in the arena that robbed him of a world title 12 months previously.
From the stunning mistake by Lin Dan at 19-19 in the third game, to his net play and smashes that saved the two match points before his precise pushes into Lee Chong Wei’s forehand that forced the errors that led to the match point and the eventual winning point, it was an absolute master class on the greatest stage by both players. They simply are the best two players in the world and the only two men capable of winning gold in London.
Fighting For Gold
Lee Chong Wei was the overall best player of 2011; winning almost every event he entered and claimed his first All England title against Kenichi Tago in March. The last three months have seen him lose to China’s Chen Long no less than three times which is the only real worry for the Malaysian going into 2012. He will undoubtedly play a full schedule going into the Olympics, with the chance of a second All England title looming large.
Lin Dan goes into 2012 in top form, winning his last three events including the Super Series Finals earlier in December. He won the opening Super Series Premier in Korea in January and followed it up with Asian Games gold, an event that Lee Chong Wei did not play. The top two in the world played each other 5 times in ranking events, with Lin Dan winning four of the five meetings with Lin Dan holding a 18-8 advantage in their 26 meetings to date.
Gade’s Last Chance
Peter Gade celebrated his 35th birthday this month but there was little to celebrate on the court for the Dane as he failed to claim a single title in 2011 as Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei proved too strong throughout the year in a recurring theme for Europe’s number 1. In his 12 meetings with the top two players, he won just three games and failed to win a single match.
His record against the top two is 32-4, with his last victory over Lin Dan over 18 months ago and almost three years since his last win over Lee Chong Wei. His chances of a stunning upset and a Danish gold in London look grim whilst in the Super Series events he will be a perennial contender and will reach the latter stages of most of the events he participates in, but his chances of gold in London are slim.
Taufik’s Fall From Grace
The decline of Taufik started in May of this year when his #2 ranking slipped to 3 and then came the double defeat to Marc Zwiebler in the US and Canada Open. The foundation of his ranking came from his Denmark and France Super Series victories in 2010. His defeat in the second round to Viktor Axelsen in Denmark followed by his opening round loss to Wang Zhengming in France ensured Hidayat’s decline out of the top 10 of the world rankings for the first time in recent memory.
He ended the year with a whimper, losing all three games in the Super Series Finals and taking just a single game against Kenichi Tago. He will start 2012 with a world ranking of 12, still inside the qualifcation zone for the Olympics but he is currently the #2 ranked player from Indonesia with Simon Santoso ranked 7 in the world and Tommy Sugiarto a threat to Hidayat’s qualification also, ranked 17th in the world.
The Chinese Threat
The 2009 world champion Chen Jin as well as the new star of Chinese badminton, Chen Long are just the tip of a massive Chinese threat going into any major tournament in 2012. With 5 Chinese players inside the top 16, there is a massive internal battle within the Chinese squad to claim one of a potential three spots in the Olympics, should China manage to get three players inside the top 4 in the world.
Chen Long is clearly the new star of Chinese badminton, the 22-year old begun this year well outside of the top 10 and his stunning loss to Kevin Cordon in the opening round of the world championships could have derailed his promising career. However, he returned to form later in the year with a trio of titles including a Super Series Premier title in China before his milestone victory over Lee Chong Wei in Japan the next week. This became a recurring theme, with another victory over Lee Chong Wei in Denmark and then finally in their most recent matchup in the Super Series Finals. He is the main threat to the top two in the world going into 2012.
Chen Jin claimed just a single title this year, in the Singapore Super Series after a Lin Dan walkover in the final and without Lee Chong Wei even in the draw. His two runner-up medals were defeats to Lin Dan and Chen Long to firmly establish himself as the third force of Chinese badminton now.
Du Pengyu and Wang Zhengming are the two wild cards of Chinese badminton. They have all but been eliminated from being able to qualify for the 2012 games but will be vital in ensuring a massive Chinese presence at the London Olympics. Ranked #10 and #14 in the world will put them in a position of being seeds in some events but potentially facing one of the seeds in the Premier events of 2011, like Wang Zhengming taking on Taufik Hidayat in the French Super Series in October. They will also play a role in ensuring Chinese success at these events, with the Chinese squad allowing walkovers to occur in all-Chinese matchups, meaning more rest for the higher ranked Chinese players in their big events.
The Breakout Stars of 2011
2011 seen the emergence of Sho Sasaki, Lee Hyun Il, Simon Santoso and Marc Zwiebler into the top 16 players in the world. 29-year old Sho Sasaki has been grinding away a career that seen him ranked as low as 40 in June of this year after a string of opening round losses to start 2011. He then reached the semi finals in the Indonesian Super Series Premier and followed that with a win in the US Open in July. An excellent run to the last 8 of the world championships boosted his ranking into the top 10 and finishes the year with his highest ever world ranking of 7. A lot is expected of Sasaki in 2012 with impressive victories over Lin Dan and Du Pengyu in 2011 but has to ensure no opening round upsets that marred his 2011 season.
Lee Hyun Il ended his career after the Beijing Olympics, only to be talked back into playing competitively just 20 months ago. Ranked 196th in May of 2010, he has returned to the world’s top 10 going into 2012, winning his last two events of 2011. A former world number 1 in 2004, his return to the top 10 is nothing short of stunning with victories over Chen Jin, Wang Zhengming , Du Pengyu and Simon Santoso confirming his top 10 status. He will benefit in 2012 with being seeded for most of the early Super Series events of the year to bolster his place in the top 10.
Simon Santoso was touted to overtake Taufik Hidayat as Indonesia’s number 1 in the summer after Hidayat’s poor run in the US and Canada Open. He entered the world championships ranked 19th but his run to the semi finals in China and Macau, that featured a victory over Peter Gade seen Santoso become the top ranked Indonesian player and ensured his place in the top 10 in December. His victory over Hidayat in the China Masters saw the passing of the guard to the 26-year old.
Marc Zwiebler has cemented his place as Europe’s number 2 behind Peter Gade, but his double victory over Taufik Hidayat has pushed him into the spotlight. Ranked as high as 11 earlier in the year, he has levelled out within the 15-17 ranking in the later half of the year following his Canada Open success. Big things are expected of Zwiebler in 2012 as he is set to take on the mantle of Europe’s #1 after the Olympics.
The New Breed
Denmark’s future lies with Viktor Axelsen, the 2010 junior world champion and current European junior champion carefully scheduled his 2011 calender, with a victory in Spain before his greatest moment of his career in the Denmark Open as he defeated Taufik Hidayat in his hometown to reach the last 8 of a Super Series for the first time. He took a game off Peter Gade in his quarterfinal before losing out in three games but that propelled him onto the world stage. He played the Hong Kong and China Masters in the latter half of 2011 and will likely take on a full schedule in 2012 as he looks to improve on his ranking of 36.
Wong Wing Ki’s victory over Lin Dan in Denmark was the 21-year old’s first breakthrough victory of his career and a series of promising results to end 2011 has him just outside the top 20 in the world going into 2012. He has been competitive against the world’s elite throughout the last year with only his standout victory against Lin Dan to show for it, he will hope to have several more impressive wins in 2012.
The European Hopefuls
Pablo Abian, Rajiv Ouseph have been the powerhouses of the EBU circuit, whilst Jan O Jorgensen has been reaching the latter stages of the Super Series towards the end of 2011 after a health scare during the week of the Denmark Open.
Pablo Abian started 2011 just inside the top 50 in the world before taking four titles in the first half of the year, including a victory over Viktor Axelsen in Sweden in January to claim his first title. Opening round defeats in the Denmark and France Open will have to be improved on in 2012 to break into the world’s elite.
Rajiv Ouseph will go to the London Olympics as GB’s only chance of a medal in this event but his success in 2011 has came in Europe, with victories in Ireland and Scotland, choosing to play the European events instead of the Super Series Premier event in China. He goes into 2012 in need of a notable run in a Super Series to boost his confidence ahead of the pressure of performing on home soil after a poor attempt this year in a 21-8, 21-18 defeat to Peter Gade in the opening round of the 2011 world championships.
Jan O Jorgensen is a former top 10 player whose health scare in Denmark forced him into a layoff of 4 weeks that seen him dip to 19 in the rankings. Three quarter final appearances in Super Series events in 2011 will be the very minimum he will need to ensure his place at the Olympics ahead of Viktor Axelsen, as the two battle it out to be Denmark’s number 1 after Gade’s retirement.
However, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus is also a contender in the debate. Ranked outside the top 30 at the start of 2011, the Dane took the Dutch Open title in April to push him into the top 25 and another victory in the Bitburger Open sees him inside the top 20 and finished the year with a close match with Chen Long of China. The performance in the China Open will be one that Vittinghus hopes to emulate throughout 2011 to ensure his name is in the discussion over Denmark’s top men’s singles player.
The Asian Contingent
The rarely spoken about Tien Minh Nguyen has been inside the top 10 in the world for almost two years without any major runs in the Super Series, the Vietnamese player earns his ranking points from the GP Gold series of events but did put have a good run at the world championships, eventually losing out to Peter Gade in three games at the quarter final stage. Defeats to Sho Sasaki and Jan O Jorgensen in the latter part of 2011 still raise question marks over Nguyen’s true ability and significance within the rankings.
Park Sung Hwan’s year was cut short with an injury after the world championships. After surgery on his knee in September there was further complications after it was revealed that the Korean had circulation problems in his shoulder but is expected to return to action in the opening months of 2012. He was ranked inside the top 10 before his lay off due to injury.
Boonsak Ponsana is another player in the Tien Minh Nguyen mould in that he was almost discounted as a threat in the opening half of 2011 when he was ranked 6th in the world, mostly due to ranking points gained through the GP Gold series. His quarter final defeat to Lee Chong Wei is the highlight of a poor year for the Thai player that has seen him crash out of the top 10 but surgery has sidelined Ponsana for most of the second half of 2011, with 2012 seeing the Thai player hopefully return to the court.
The End Of An Era
Regardless of the results in London, Lee Chong Wei and Peter Gade have confirmed their intentions to retire after the Olympics. Lin Dan and Taufik Hidayat likely to follow suit, especially should Lin Dan claim his second Olympic title. Hidayat’s dip in form will likely be a contributing factor especially with his place in London far from guaranteed.
2012 will provide us with the end of an era and the chance to crown a new world number 1 after the Olympics. Whether that is Lee Chong Wei winning gold for Malaysia, Lin Dan retaining his Olympic title or the dream finale to Peter Gade’s stunning career, the countdown has begun. There is no more putting off talking about the likely retirement of these four players, for it is now a matter of months, not years now.
The 2012 season starts in just a few weeks, with the Korean Open Super Series Premier being moved 3 weeks to the first week in January, with the Malaysian Open Super Series the next week to ensure an exciting start to the year. The doubleheader of the Indonesia Premier and Singapore Super Series will be the final event before the run-in to the Olympics in late July.
Then, another 6 week break before the China Masters and the first opportunity to survey the aftermath of the 2012 Olympics. The year ends with the China Open Premier and the Hong Kong Super Series in late November to conclude what is likely to be a historic year of badminton.
The majority of the top ranked players and pairs have progressed into the playoffs needing just two games to ensure qualification, however some groups are doing down to the wire tomorrow in the final matches of the group stage.
Lee Chong Wei, Peter Gade, Lin Dan All Through
Few expected any resistance in Group A as Sho Sasaki and Simon Santoso were outclassed by the eventual qualifiers from the group in Peter Gade and Lee Chong Wei. Both players secured two victories and will play tomorrow for top spot within the group and the likelihood of the loser meeting Lin Dan in the semi final stage. The Group B winner takes on Kenichi Tago to ensure top spot, whilst the Japanese player needs a victory to have any chance of progressing. The other match in Group B sees Chen Long take on Taufik Hidayat, with the Chinese player also looking for a victory to ensure his place whilst the Indonesian cannot qualify for the last 4.
Sung Ji Hyun Remains Unbeaten
After her stunning win over Wang Yihan, Sung Ji Hyun ensured her place at the top of Group A with a two game victory over Juliane Schenk but still needs a victory over Tine Baun to ensure qualification, whilst the Dane must defeat Sung to have any chance of qualifying whilst Wang Yihan needs only to beat Juliane Schenk to reach the last 4. Group B is already settled with only the top spot on offer as Wang Xin and Saina Nehwal play in the final group match.
All To Play For In Doubles
Group A of the men’s doubles offers the simplest of equations, win and progress into the playoffs. All four pairs have won one and lost one going into the final round of matches tomorrow, with Cai and Fu against Ko and Yoo likely to be the standout match of tomorrow’s play with at least one of these pairs not playing this weekend. Chai and Guo take on Hashimoto and Hirata for the other place in the last 4. Group B is a different story, with Boe and Mogensen progressing as well as Lee and Jung ahead of their match tomorrow to determine top spot in the group.
Wang and Yu are safely into the last 4, even with a defeat tomorrow their points and games difference is too strong and have secured the top spot in Group A. Ha and Kim have to become the first non-Chinese pair to defeat Wang and Yu to have any chance of progressing into the last 4. Tian and Zhao are not mathematically through, but would need to lose convincingly to the Japanese pair of Fujii and Kakiiwa for the world number 3 pairing to have any chance of progressing.
Zhao Yunlei faces a similar situation in the mixed doubles, needing only to avoid a big defeat to Ahmad and Natsir to advance to the playoff stages. Xu and Ma need a victory against the British pair of Blair and White to ensure their place in the last 4, with the world number 22 pairing already out of contention. Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen have already won Group B, whilst either of the three pairings in their group capable of taking second place in the group. The likely winner between Ikeda and Shiota against Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam will look like the favourite to take the second place spot in the group.
Once again BWF is offering a live stream to select countries. You can find the various feeds here:
Day 1 Session 1
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Day 3 Session 2
Semi Finals Session 1
Semi Finals Session 2
The best eight players and pairs are in Liuzhou this week for the final event of the 2011 Superseries season, with plenty of Chinese interest on home soil.
Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei Win Openers
The favourites from the two groups in the men’s singles both won their opening matches, but both needed three games to ensure a winning start this week. Lin Dan defeated Chen Long in a 62-minute thriller to open up Group B whilst Lee Chong Wei needed three games to defeat Sho Sasaki and ensure a win on the opening round of matches. Peter Gade tops Group A after an impressive 21-13, 21-9 victory over Simon Santoso and there was more disappointed for the Indonesians as Taufik Hidayat was defeated by Japan’s Kenichi Tago in the other Group B match, with Tago taking the deciding game 21-7 to share the top spot in the group with Lin Dan.
Wang Yihan Beaten Sung Ji Hyun
The big surprise in the women’s singles came in the Group A opener as world number 1 Wang Yihan lost to Sung Ji Hyun of Korea in a 72-minute match, after the Chinese number 1 took the opening game 21-13 but capitulated and lost the next two games to make her chances of making the semi finals increasingly difficult. Tine Baun tops the group after an impressive one-sided victory over Juliane Schenk, winning 21-12, 21-11 in just 27 minutes. Xin Wang needed just 26 minutes to defeat Sayaka Sato of Japan to top Group B whilst Saina Nehwal defeated Bae Youn Joo to start her campaign on a positive note.
Cai and Fu Defeated
The main news from the men’s doubles group was Cai and Fu’s defeat to Chai and Guo in their Group A opener, Ko and Yoo also suffered an opening game defeat, making their matchup on Friday potentially for the second position in the group. Lee and Jung survived their own scare against Koo and Tan but eventually won in three games to keep finishing top of their group a possibility. Wang and Yu top Group A in the women’s doubles with a 21-9, 21-11 victory over Poon and Tse whilst Tian and Zhao top Group B after a three game victory over Pedersen and Rytter Juhl in 58 minutes. Zhao and Zhang defeated their Chinese team-mates Xu and Ma in their opening match of the mixed doubles in Group A, with the world number 1 pairing winning the match in three games, needing 45 minutes to ensure a top two place in the group. Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen top Group B with a two game victory over Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam of Thailand in a 21-15, 21-17 victory.
The results from Hong Kong last week was a warning ahead of this week that China were back to their best. The opening day in Shanghai was yet another reminder as the top Chinese players as well as the future stars of this nation are set to dominate this week.
Gade Survives Scare
It was Peter Gade who came within a point of going out in a stunning upset to Shon Wan Ho of Korea, at 20-19 in the deciding game Gade reeled off three points in a row to survive his 82-minute ordeal and set up a second round clash with Du Pengyu of China. Lee Chong Wei and Kenichi Tago meet again this week, this time in the second round with both securing opening round victories. The world number 1 holds an 8-0 record against his Japanese opponent, with Tago winning just two games in the previous 8 meetings. Chen Long is the highest seed in the event for China and takes on Hans-Kristian Vittinghus in the second round tomorrow, with the winner set to play either Chen Jin or Wang Zhengming in the last 8.
Massive Chinese Contingent In Women’s Singles
China have no less than 8 players in the last 16 even with the loss of the 5th seeded Jiang Yanjiao in the opening round to Bulgaria’s Petya Nedelcheva. Top seed this week is Wang Shixian after regaining the world #1 spot and progressed safely into the second round against Thai qualifier Sapsiree Taerattanachai. Wang Yihan’s progression was tougher, defeating Ai Goto in two tight games and 3rd seeded Wang Xin was forced into a tight two game match by Yao Jie also. There is no less than 5 unseeded Chinese players, from Li Xuerui to qualifiers Han Li and Yao Xue, who takes on Tine Baun in the second round.
Little Trouble For Chinese Pairings
Three Chinese pairs in the men’s doubles are safely into the second round, with Cai and Fu taking on Hirobe and Kazuno, who defeated Hong and Chen in two tight games. The second seeded Lee and Jung are also into the last 16 and they also take on a Chinese pairing, the unseeded pair of Liu and Xiu who progressed easily into the second round after beating Liu and Ng of Canada. Boe and Mogensen are seeded 3 this week and defeated the on-form pairing of Bach and Gunawan in their opening round match.
Even with both the top two Chinese seeds receiving first round byes, there was still Chinese success in the women’s doubles as three unseeded Chinese pairs also progressed into the last 16. The most impressive of the victories was Cheng and Pan’s win over the 8th seeded Jauhari and Polii, whilst Tang and Xia as well as Xie and Yixin also progressed and take on seeded pairs in the last 16.
There was four Chinese victories in the mixed doubles also, with Zhang and Zhao receiving a bye whilst Xu and Ma came from a game behind against Ko and Eom of Korea to eventually progress into the last 16. Qualifiers Jiaming and Xia defeated te 6th seeded Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam of Thailand to set up their all-Chinese second round match against Hong and Pan. Lee and Ha were another seed that crashed out in the opening round, losing to the Danish pairing of Pieler Colding and Houmann to ensure three Danish pairs in the last 16 also, with Laybourn and Rytter Juhl beating Ikeda and Shiota of Japan and the 3rd seeded pair of Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen defeating Lee and Chien of Chinese Taipei to advance to the last 16.