China claimed their second straight clean sweep of the gold medals but that has not been the only story of this year’s world championships with several players and partnership stealing the headlines throughout the week.
If the match between Cai/Fu and Lee/Jung in the 2009 world championships final was the greatest match of that event, the 2011 final between Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan has to be considered the greatest match in recent memory in the men’s singles. The 81-minute match had everything you’d want from a final and the drama of the last few points only confirmed the greatness of the match. Lee Chong Wei had two chances to be world champion, only for Lin Dan to save those match points and take the title 23-21.
The main disappointment of the week was Taufik Hidayat’s early exit to Zi Liang Derek Wong of Singapore in two games, asking the question if the Indonesian will continue playing until the 2012 Olympics. For Peter Gade, his last chance of a world championship ended at the semi final stage to Lin Dan but was just six points away from the final, leading 15-14 in the third game before the 2nd seeded Lin Dan scored seven unanswered points.
Wang Yihan claimed the women’s title in one-sided final over Cheng Shao Chieh of Chinese Taipei to claim her first world title ahead of three other high seeded Chinese players. The 2nd seeded Chinese player dropped just a single set on route to the final in her 2nd round match against Inthanon Ratchnok whilst her opponent reached the final with the loss of a game including victories over Wang Shixian and Juliane Schenk.
It was yet further disappoint for Wang Shixian, whose recent run of form since winning the All England in March has been poor. Two defeats to Cheng Shao Chieh, one defeat to Tine Baun and a surprise defeat to Lu Lan in the Asian Games was far from the best preparation for this week. Wang Yihan however, came in with the best preparation with a victory in the Indonesian Premier event and with her victory this week will put behind her the poor 2010 season.
Cai and Fu claimed their 4th world title after a shaky start in the opening two rounds before hitting their best form and defeating the top two Korean pairs in the semi final and final to win their 3rd straight world title. Ko and Yoo played exceptional all week but the Chinese pair were too strong in the final and questions will now be asked over the future of the partnerships in this discipline, with Ko and Lee teaming up in the events leading up to the world championships.
Boe and Mogensen’s defeat in the quarter final compounds their recent run of poor form, since failing to win a single match in the Sudirman Cup the pairing has almost been in free fall, but there were signs ever before that in their shock defeat to Bosch and Ridder in the Swiss Open. The new pairing of Conrad-Petersen and Rasmussen had a better run this week and could be a changing of the guard in Danish badminton.
Wang and Yu played against one another in the final of this event last year, but since teaming up have been almost unstoppable. Losing just one match since combining as a partnership and were the runaway favourites for the women’s doubles title and failed to disappoint. Their 22-20, 21-11 victory over Tian and Zhao, the only pairing to ever beat them was a warning to the rest of the women’s doubles field that they are the undoubted best partnership in the world, by a long way.
Both partnerships were rarely troubled on route to the final, with both failing to drop a game in reaching the final. The Japanese pairings of Maeda and Suetsuna as well as Fujii and Kakiiwa weren’t in the same league as the two Chinese pairs and that clearly showed in their quarter and semi final matches. The best two partnerships in the world met in the final and that seems to be the way it will be for the near future.
Zhang and Zhao might have claimed the gold in the mixed doubles, but the heroics of Adcock and Bankier will be the story of the championships. The Chinese pair were the undoubted favourites coming into this week, with victory in the Asian Games and the most recent Premier event in Indonesia. Their opponents in the final defeated four seeds just to reach the final and with every victory their confidence grew, as did the emotional and physical fatigue. Zhang and Zhao needed just 7 games to reach the final whilst Adcock and Bankier needed 11 and almost a hour more on court.
For Imogen Bankier, this is not new territory as one of her previous partnerships with Robert Blair propelled them into the top 20 of the world ranking but this partnership is clearly the future of British badminton with Robertson and Wallwork’s shock defeat in their opening match this week. Tian and Jiaming as well as Ahmad and Natsir will wonder how they were defeated by the British pair in such a convincing manner, with the Olympics being held in the same arena in just a years time with Adcock and Bankier looking to go one better than in 2011.
The fairytale at the start of the week was Kevin Cordon’s unlikely run to last 8 but even his heroics haven’t matched the performances of Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier this week as they are one match away from being world champions.
Lee Chong Wei defeated the current world champion in convincing style in the morning session to book his place in the final by the score of 21-13, 21-9. His opponent in the final will be the 2nd seeded Lin Dan who had to come through Peter Gade in three games, after the Dane took the opening game but Lin Dan responded in the second and reeled off seven straight points at 14-15 down in the third game to book his place against Lee Chong Wei. Their 24th meeting will be for a world title, with the pair splitting their last 4 matches but the Malaysian won their last encounter in the All England Championships in March.
Wang Yihan won the all-Chinese semi final against Wang Xin to take a 5-0 lead in their head to head matches. The 2nd seed will take on the 7th seeded Cheng Shao Chieh, who defeated Juliane Schenk in convincing fashion to continue her excellent run after defeating the top seeded Wang Shixian in the quarter final stage. Wang Yihan holds a 3-0 record against her Chinese Taipei opponent, with their most recent matchup in the Asian Games being won by Wang Yihan in two games.
The Korean pair of Ko and Yoo reached the men’s doubles final with a two game victory over Ahsan and Septano, the 7th seeded pair from Indonesia. Their opponents in tomorrow’s final will be the top seeded Cai and Fu who are looking for their 3rd straight world title after defeating the 3rd seeded pair of Lee and Jung in two games and taking the advantage in their head to head to 8-7 to the Chinese pair. Cai and Fu will go in as undoubted favourites with a 4-0 advantage in their head to head.
The women’s doubles final is an All-Chinese affair, with the top seeded Wang and Yu defeating the 3rd seeded Maeda and Suetsuna in two games to book their place in the final against the 5th seeded Tian and Zhao, who defeated the unseeded Indian pair of Gutta and Ponnappa. Wang and Yu have won every single match they have played in 2011 except one, against the pairing of Tian and Zhao in Malaysia early in the year but since then Wang and Yu have defeated their opponents in the final twice.
The mixed doubles final sees the top seeded Zhao and Zhang take on the story of the championships in the pairing of Adcock and Bankier, who defeated their 4th seeded pair this week to be their place in tomorrow’s final. Adcock and Bankier’s stunning victory over the second seeded Ahmad and Natsir booked their place in the final whilst the Chinese pair had to play just one game against the 6th seeded Xu and Ma before an ankle injury to Ma Jin cut the match short. The Chinese pair have won both their previous matches but one of their victories was a retirement and the other meeting was in 2010 that the Chinese pair won 24-22 in the deciding game.
Indonesia had four chances to take home a title on finals day in Macau, but only the mixed doubles final guaranteed an Indonesian winner. The top seeds Gunawan and Marissa were surprisingly defeated by the 6th seeded Ahmad and Natsir in two games, winning 21-14, 21-18.
The women’s singles final was between two unseeded players, Li Xuerui of China and Adriyanti Firdasari of Indonesia. Both players has disposed of a top 5 seed to reach the final, but it was the Chinese player who had came through against the 2nd and 4th seed that took the title in two games, winning 21-18, 21-15 in just 33 minutes.
Cheng and Chien made it two titles in two weeks, following up their win in the US with a three game victory over Jauhari and Polii, winning 16-21, 21-18, 21-16. Indonesia’s fourth final of the day seen 3rd seeded Chandra and Gunawan loss out to the unseeded Korean duo of Ko and Yoo in two games 21-17, 21-15. Meaning Indonesia took just one title from a possible four.
The men’s singles final between Lee Chong Wei and Lee Hyun Il, who was playing his first tournament since his comeback from a two-year retirement failed to take place after the Korean pulled out with an unspecified injury that he sustained during practice earlier that day.