The first full day of play begun in Birmingham with the organisers hoping not to repeat the farcical start to the 2012 tournament. Play begun at 9am on Wednesday and mercifully ended on Wednesday, albeit well after 11pm but the first day of this years edition of the All England will be remembered for the amount of seeds crashing out on the opening day of play.
Seeds Tested in Men’s Singles
Kenichi Tago was the sole seed that progressed into the second round without the loss of a game, defeating Viktor Axelsen in his opening round match. Hu Yun and Du Pengyu were the big name casualties of the first round, with Lee Chong Wei, Chen Long, Sony Dwi Kuncoro, Chen Jin and Tien Minh Nguyen all needing three games to progress to the last 16.
Lee Chong Wei takes on Wang Zhengming in the pick of the second round matches, with Chen Long also likely to be tested against Takuma Ueda of Japan. Jan O Jorgensen flys the flag for Europe and takes on Sony Dwi Kuncoro in a miserable day for European badminton, with just six wins coming in 29 matches over the course of the opening days play.
Chinese Misery In Women’s Singles
There is usually five to seven Chinese players left in the draw at the last 16 stage, but this week just three remain. Li Han takes on Tine Baun whilst the other two Chinese players, Wang Shixian and Jiang Yanjiao play against one another in the second round. The major shocks in the competition come at the expense of China with Olympic champion Li Xuerui losing in two games to Bae Yeon Ju whilst the third seeded Wang Yihan lost to Indonesia’s Lindaweri Fanetri, also in two games.
Both Saina Nehwal and Wang Shixian needed three games to ensure their passage into the second round but there was no such trouble for the European seeds. Juliane Schenk set up a tough second round match against P.V. Sindhu and Tine Baun’s future in the All England and her career will be tested to the full by Li Han of China.
Lee/Ko Crash Out
A pre-match withdrawal from Cai and Fu weakened the event but the shock loss of Lee and Ko to Germany’s Kindervater and Schoettler was perhaps the biggest positive from a European standpoint on the day. The loss of Cai and Fu as well as Lee and Ko has made the top half of the men’s doubles draw all the easier for the top seeded Boe and Mogensen, who take on China’s Liu and Qiu in tomorrow’s second round.
Moren and Szkudlarczyk provided their own shock in the bottom half, with a three game victory over the 5th seeded Hong and Shen to ensure there would not be a full compliment of seeds in the bottom half of the draw. Koo and Tan defeated Ellis and Adcock to end English hopes in the competition, with Robert Blair partnering Tan Bin Shen who take on the 4th seeded Endo and Hayakawa in the second round.
Asian Dominance In Women’s Doubles
The second seeded Danish pair of Pedersen and Rytter Juhl crashed out to Bao and Tian in the opening round, ending any hope of a European threat in the women’s doubles. Wang and Yu progressed safely into the second round, joined there by Ma and Tang as well as Cheng and Zhao. Zhao and Tian were previously partners but will play against one another for the first time in their new partnerships in the second round tomorrow.
The sixteen remaining pairs all hail from Asia, with all four European pairs crashing out in the first round. Jenny Wallwork’s retirement in the days leading up to the All England surprised many and asks the question about how far her and partner Alex Langley would have gone in the event this year.
Danish Disaster In Mixed Doubles
Christinna Pedersen’s opening day ended in disaster as her and partner Joachim Fischer Neilsen were the only seeds not the progress into the last 16, beaten by the Indonesian pair of Kido and Bernadeth. Xu and Ma defeated Adcock and White to set-up an all-Chinese second round match against Qiu and Bao. Zhang and Zhao made light work of another Danish pair, Pieler Kolding and Rytter Juhl to reach the last 16.
Day 1 Results:
Lee Chong Wei returned to action after a one day hiatus and spent just 25 minutes securing his place in the last 4 with a resounding 21-12, 21-9 victory over Hu Yun. With three Malaysian players left in the events and two being top seeded, Malaysian success in multiple events is a real possibility.
Lee Chong Wei’s opponent in the semi final will be Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen who ended hopes of an all-Malaysian semi final with his three game victory over Daren Liew. The second semi final sees Kenichi Tago facing Sony Dwi Kuncoro after the Indonesian defeating Tago’s countryman, Sho Sasaki. It will be their 4th meeting, with Kuncoro winning all of the previous three encounters, but their last meeting was almost 4 years ago.
The women’s singles has been a compilation of unlikely storylines. Only Saina Nehwal can be expected to be at this stage but was taken to a third game by Nozomi Okuhara before her retirement trailing 2-0 in the deciding game. Nehwal’s opponent in the semi final is Tai Tzu Ying, who registered her first victory over Tine Baun to reach the last 4. Bae Yeon Ju has defeated two seeds on her route to the last 4, beating Minatsu Mitani in her quarter final match to set up a semi final against Yao Xue of China. The world number 151 was a qualifier this week and there is 136 places in the world rankings between her and Bae in what will be their first meeting.
Lee and Ko continue their impressive run in 2013 with a two game victory over Hashimoto and Hirata and set up a semi final against Goh and Lim of Malaysia, who ended the run of the Korean qualifiers Lee and Kang. Ivanov and Sozonov crashed out at the hands of the Chinese pair of Chai and Liu in a tight third game that allowed the unseeded pair to progress to take on another unseeded pair in Ahsan and Setiawan. The Indonesian’s defeated the second seeded Endo and Hayakawa in two games to ensure at least one unseeded pair in Sunday’s final.
Bao and Tian defeated the top seeded pair of Pedersen and Rytter Juhl in two convincing games to book their place in the last 4. Two seeded pairs will meet in the bottom half of the draw, with Sari and Yao of Singapore taking on Matsutomo and Takahashi in their first ever meeting in the semi finals tomorrow.
A potential all-European final could be on the cards, but the top seeded Goh and Lim will have their own ambitions of reaching Sunday’s final. The Malaysian’s takes on the European champions, Mateusiak and Zieba in their third meeting with the momentum definitely with Goh and Lim who won their previous two meetings. Indonesian qualifiers Jordan and Marissa take on the second seeded Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen, who won the all-Danish quarter final against Kristiansen and Houmann in two games. The gap in the world rankings is a remarkable 320 places but the Indonesian pair have defeated two seeds already just to reach the last 4.
Quarter Final Results:
Destination two for the Super Series takes the players to Kuala Lumpur and to world number 1 Lee Chong Wei’s homeland as he looks to successfully defend his title from 2012. A distinct lack of Chinese seeds throughout the draw has opened the opportunity for some of the lesser-known players to reach the latter stages this week.
Lee Chong Wei opened his campaign in spectacular style, demolishing Viktor Axelsen 21-8, 21-10 to set a marker for the rest of draw that he is in excellent form this week after his victory in Seoul on Sunday. Second seeded Kenichi Tago similarly had little problems in progressing to the second round but losses for Wang Zhengming and Tien Minh Nguyen in the first round has opened the draw out further with the 3rd seeded Nguyen losing in three games to Taufik Hidayat who could be a potential semi finalist against Lee Chong Wei.
Ratchanok and Schenk’s withdrawal ensured an even weaker draw in the women’s singles without any of the top Chinese players present this week. Top seed Saina Nehwal will not complain as she progressed into the second safely after a comfortable two-game victory. Tine Baun needed three games to defeat P.V. Sindhu in her second to last Super Series and will take on Sun Yu of China in the second round. The match of the second round will be the all-Korean clash between Sung Ji Hyun and Bae Yeon Ju after both recorded victories in their opening round matches. The lower ranking Bae holds a 2-1 advantage but Sung took their most recent matchup in the Korea Open two years ago.
Top seeded Koo and Tan set up an all-Malaysia second round match against Goh and Lim with a potential Malaysian opponent waiting in the next round in Hoon and Tan, seeded 5th this week. Lee and Ko are a potential semi final opponent, with the 6th seeded Korean’s defeating Fuchs and Roth of Germany in two games to reach the last 16. The only two Chinese pairs in the draw will meet in the second round with Qiu and Zhang taking on Chai and Liu in their first meeting.
The only top seeded Europeans, Pedersen and Rytter Juhl progressed in three games to set up a rare all-European match in the second round against Goliszewski and Michels of Germany. The second seeded Matsutomo and Takahashi dropped just 14 points on route to a second round match against England’s Olver and Robertshaw who benefitted from a retirement in their opening round match. Giving blood in the cause of reaching the second round is not common within badminton, but Jillie Cooper managed to do just that playing with Kirsty Gilmour on route to a two game victory over Ho and Yap of Malaysia. They take on the Korean pairing of Ko and Yoo in their second round match, who defeated the 7th seeded Jauhari and Polii of Indonesia. Two Chinese pairs remain massive threats for the title with Ma and Tang winning in three games and Bao and Tian needing three games also to reach the second round.
Chan and Goh survived a massive scare in their opening round match, needing to save three match points to remain in the competition against the Thai pairing of Prapakamol and Aroonkesorn. Their opponents in the second round are even more fortunate to be in the last 16, Pieler Kolding and Rytter Juhl saved seven match points over the course of two games to win 19-21, 24-22, 24-22 and ensure their place in the second round. The second seeded Danish pair of Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen take on a new Chinese pairing feature one half of the Olympic gold pairing of Zhao Yunlei and partner Qiu Zihan, who needed three games to progress past qualifers Lee and Chau of Hong Kong.
Day 1 Results:
Four titles were a possibility for China on finals day, but managed just half that tally as the host nation took down higher seeds to ensure two titles for the host nation whilst Lee Chong Wei ensured a title for Malaysia in the men’s singles.
Lee Chong Wei started 2013 perfectly with a two game victory over China’s Du Pengyu, with the Malaysian failing to drop a game after his opening round scare to Wang Zhengming and will go into his home Super Series event on a high. Sung Ji Hyun claimed Korea’s only singles title with a two game victory over the 5th seeded Wang Shixian to avenge her 2010 defeat in this event to the Chinese player.
Lee and Ko defeated Boe and Mogensen in the men’s doubles final, but not before losing the opening game 21-19 but a far dominant display from the Korean’s in the next two games ensured Lee and Ko’s meteoric rise up the rankings continued. Wang and Yu defeated Ma and Tang in the first final of the day in a straightforward two game match for the 2011 World Champions first title of 2013.
Ma Jin fell short in the mixed doubles final also, losing with her partner Xu Chen to the world and Olympic champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei. The top seeded pair did take the opening game but failed to capitalise and lost the next two games to ensure a 12th defeat to Zhang and Zhao in their 14 encounters to date.
Finals Day Results:
Even with all the Chinese withdrawals that have marred the week’s play, they still have a chance at four of the five titles in Seoul. Only the men’s doubles will not feature a Chinese pair but instead have Korean and Danish interest in tomorrow’s final. Lee Yong Dae will look to go one better than last year after suffering defeat to Cai and Fu in the 2012 final.
Lee Chong Wei has rarely been troubled on route to the final and Wong Wing Ki did little to challenge the top seed in a one-sided semi final. Du Pengyu will be the Malaysian’s opponent in the first Super Series final of 2013 after his two game victory over Sony Dwi Kuncoro, who returned to the top 10 in the world rankings this week.
Wang Shixian will be the sole Chinese player in a women’s singles final as she looks to defend her title against Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun in a rematch of the 2010 final that the Chinese player won in two games. It is Wang Shixian’s fourth consecutive final in Korea and has won two of her three finals to date.
The world number 1 pairing of Boe and Mogensen takes on the form pair in Lee and Ko in the men’s doubles final. They have met once previously in China at the last Premier event of 2012, which the Danish pair won in two games. Only the Danes have dropped a game this week, in their semi final victory over Hong and Shen whilst Lee and Ko defeated the second seeded Koo and Tan to reach the final.
The women’s and mixed doubles final will be all-Chinese affairs, both featuring Ma Jin. Ma and Tang take on the top seeded Wang and Yu after their three game victory over Pedersen and Rytter Juhl, seeded 2nd this week. It was their second win against a higher seeded pair after their victory over Matsutomo and Takahashi in the quarterfinals. The top seeded Xu and Ma take on Zhang and Zhao as they renew their rivalry that begun at this event two years ago. It will be their 14th meeting, with Xu and Ma failing to any matchups in 2012 and winning just 2 of the previous 13 encounters.
Semi Final Results:
The Chinese tomfoolery overshadowed day 1, but a full day of excellent play delighted the Seoul crowd on the second day with plenty to cheer about for the Koreans. The European contingent was dramatically cut going into the later stages, with surprise losses for some of the biggest names in European badminton.
Three pretenders to Gade’s throne were all dispatched on the second day, with Zwiebler losing to Lee Chong Wei in two games whilst Viktor Axelsen lost to Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki. Jan O Jorgensen’s defeat was the most surprising as he lost out to Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov in two games to set up a quarter final against Du Pengyu of China. The 4th seed is the only seed remaining in the bottom half of the draw and the last Chinese player in the event after Guo Huan’s loss to Chong Wei Feng.
It is a similar story in the women’s singles, with the usual Chinese domination of the event missing with just two players left in the last 8. Wang Shixian has failed to drop a game to date but faces her toughest task yet against Korea’s Bae Yeon Ju in the quarter finals. Li Han takes on Saina Nehwal, with the Indian taking over as the highest seed left in the draw with Wang Yihan’s and Li Xuerui’s retirement on day 1. Minatsu Mitani and Nichaon Jindapon ended the European run in the event with Mitani defeating Tine Baun in three tight games whilst Jindapon disposed of Juliane Schenk in two convincing games.
The Japanese threat in the bottom half of the men’s doubles ended abruptly on day 2 with both seeded pairs crashing out. Endo and Hayakawa, seeded 4 lost to Goh and Lim of Malaysia in two games to set up a quarter final against Lee and Ko of Korea whilst Liu and Qiu ended the end of Hashimoto and Hirata, beating the 8th seeds in two games. The top seeded Boe and Mogensen are safely through to the last 8 and take on Korea’s Kim and Kim in the last 8 clash.
The Chinese has dominated the women’s doubles in recent years and Korea in 2013 this is no different. All 8 seeds progressed into the latter stages, with four of the 8 coming from China. Wang and Yu take on Cheng and Zhao in undoubtedly will be one of the matches of the day, in the same side of the draw Bao and Tian takes on Korea’s big hope in Jung and Kim. Ma and Tang take on the 3rd seed Matsumoto and Takahashi in the bottom side of the draw.
Ma Jin is also safely into the last 8 of the mixed doubles with partner Xu Chen and take on the new English partnership of Adcock and White who defeated the European champions Mateusiak and Zieba in their second round clash. Zhang and Zhao needed three games to dispose of the Russian pairing of Durkin and Vislova and set up a quarter final against Kim and Jung of Korea. Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen take on the 2nd seeded Ahmad and Natsir in the pick of the matches at the quarter final stage, with the Indonesian pair dropping just 37 points on route to the last 8.
Day 2 Results:
A new year offers a new start and a new motivation after the obvious comedown from an Olympic year. The goals for the year alter from London 2012 with all eyes on Guangzhou and the World Championships in early August. Before the summer spectacle, the Super Series and Super Series Premier will pit the best against the best in 2013.
The world’s elite converge in Korea for the first Super Series Premier of the year with the biggest prize fund of the year on offer. 2013 is a year of change within the badminton world, with new events and the last of certain Super Series before the new 2014 schedule. London gains a GP Gold event in early October that leads as a build-up event to the Denmark/France Super Series later in the month.
It will be the last Super Series in Malaysia before it’s upgrade to Premier status in 2013 and China loses its Super Series event this year with Australia claiming Super Series status in 2014 but the China Super Series Premier remains. There will be no Peter Gade in 2013, retiring late last year with a last famous victory over Lin Dan. The double-Olympic champion will pick and choose his events as always and is a noticeable absence in Korea this week.
Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long will be the favourites for the title in the men’s singles but a wealth of Chinese talent looking to defeat the top seed in the opening event of 2013. Wang Zhengming will be the first to claim a victory over the Malaysian and a likely Chinese opponent in the semi final should Lee Chong Wei reach the last 4. Victor Axelsen takes on Taufik Hidayat as the old guard meets the new generation in the match of the opening round.
The women’s singles offers the expected Chinese dominance, with four seeds from the eight but like the men’s singles, a new generation coming through to the overthrow the Chinese hierarchy in the event. Ratchanok Intanon is the newest in line to attempt to defeat the world’s elite and Saina Nehwal will also continue her quest to become world number 1. Tine Baun plays her last Korea Open ahead of her retirement after the All Englands before Juliane Schenk takes over the mantle of the sole European threat at the Super Series level.
Lee and Ko’s meteoric surge up the rankings sees them seeded 6th but any thoughts of a dream final against Cai and Fu will be tempered with neither pair having an easy run to next Sunday’s final. Koo and Tan are the 2nd seeds in Korea and likely semi final opponents for the Koreans whilst Cai and Fu will probably have to defeat the top seeded Boe and Mogensen in order to reach the final.
The women’s doubles is the event to watch after the farcical events of the Olympics. Wang and Yu have returned to competitive action and their biggest rivals of the past few years have been split up to create two new partnerships. It offers Chinese a similar chance to dominate the doubles event as much as the singles with four partnerships that will likely feature in the top 10 in the coming months. Zhao Yunlei forms a new partnership with Cheng Shu, Tian Qing joins with Bao Yixin as well as Ma and Tang will offer Wang and Yu a stern test in 2013.
The mixed doubles offers the closest resemblance to 2012 with a similar field to the previous year. Chris Adcock and Gabby White are the top pairing from the six new English pairings whilst Jillie Cooper and Robert Blair will offer the only chance of Scottish success in the event. The usual suspects are all present in Korea, with Kamilla Rytter Juhl partnering Mads Pieler Kolding after Thomas Laybourn’s retirement after the London Olympics. Ma and Xu are the top seeds, with their Chinese rivals Zhang and Zhao seeded 4th in the 2013 opener.
Play begins in Korea on Tuesday, January 8.
9 Days, 5 Chinese Golds and 8 disqualified athletes as the wait for another Olympics begins once more. The Great British dream turned into a nightmare inside the opening two hours of play whilst a legend was born in the final two hours of play.
Lin Dan successfully defended his Olympic crown with a performance that to an extent, surpasses his victory in Beijing four years previously. There was no partisan crown in Wembley Arena and there was an equal on the court in Lee Chong Wei. It is to date, the greatest Olympic match ever.
Li Xuerui was a relative unknown inside this arena 12 months ago, as she watched on as the world championships took place. Now she leaves London as Olympic champion as the Chinese justified her inclusion ahead of Wang Shixian. What Li Xuerui brings is a trait that is rarely seen in Chinese players, an absolute desire to win that surpasses her talents and ability.
Cai and Fu achieved the final piece of their careers with an Olympic gold, the only title that the Chinese pair had never won. They lost in the final in Beijing four years ago and had to wait until now to redeem themselves, which they did in spectacular fashion as they won gold without the loss of a game.
Indian badminton will consider this a triumph for what they have achieved, with Kashyup Parupalli’s run to the quarterfinals and with Saina Nehwal’s bronze medal. With high hopes going into the 2013 World Championship in Guangzhou as well as the remainder of the 2012 season.
Alex Bruce and Michelle Li were the story of the women’s doubles in the aftermath of the group phase scandal. Their semi-final match was a testament to what the Olympics set out to achieve – despite their defeat to Fujii and Kakiiwa, they had inspired a generation.
Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier came into the Olympics with medal expectations, those expectations were tempered after an opening match defeat and before several of the world’s best singles players had set foot on court, their dream was over. Their success in 2011 was partly due to the lack of expectation and the surprise of their unlikely run to the World Championship final, there was nothing like that in 2012. A nation expected.
Lee Chong Wei came within two points of an Olympic title, only for Lin Dan to snatch glory from the Malaysian’s grasp for the second year running. It is perhaps not has heartbreaking as his defeat in 2011, where he did have a match point in the final but his reaction after his final shot was one of total dejection. Comforted by his coaches as he was forced to watch Lin Dan celebrate in his defeat. Only one final chance in Guangzhou waits for the Malaysian to claim a major title.
Lee Yong Dae and Chung Jae Sung were touted as the favourites for the men’s doubles titles going into the Olympics. Lee Yong Dae’s mixed doubles campaign lasted a mere three games but in the men’s doubles, the Korean pair breezed into the semi finals only to be outdone by the brilliance of an inspired Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen. They ended up with the bronze medal, with the Olympics being Chung Jae Sung’s final event as Lee Yong Dae will have a new partner after this week.
Indonesia will leave London without an Olympic medal, with the failures of Taufik Hidayat, Simon Santoso and the mixed doubles pairing of Ahmad and Natsir failing to secure a bronze medal against Fischer and Pedersen.
Peter Gade’s Olympic career came to an end at the quarterfinal stage, with Chen Long defeating the Dane in two games in a match that Gade claims he played some of his best badminton in recent memory. Just three events remain in the legendary career of Peter Gade – Japan, France and a final farewell in Denmark.
The Disgraced Eight
The criticism that has been widespread is not that they opted to lose the matches, but the manner in how they chose to do it. The distain and arrogance on show to blatantly throw the matches with serving into the net and not allowing a rally of more than four points has questioned the professionalism of every badminton player, not just the eight players expelled.
The feeling from within badminton is that given the opportunity to do it once again, all of the pairs would have no problem doing it again. The counterargument is that they are ultimately playing for an Olympic gold medal, which is four years of work and that after putting in so much effort to reach the Olympics – the possibility of making the job easier in one that should be taken.
The Chinese squad, wanted gold and silver from the women’s doubles which was indeed achievable. The Korean and Indonesian pairs merely wanted to avoid the Chinese pairs in the later stages. This all stemmed from a match earlier in the day between Pedersen and Rytter Juhl, who defeated Tian and Zhao in their group. Little did they know that the effect of that victory would eliminate four of their biggest rivals in the next 24 hours as well.
Yu Yang has allegedly retired, walking away from the game that she adores. Wang Xiaoli has promised to regain people’s trust in her and in the middle of it Li Yongbo takes sole responsibility for the actions of his players. It has been a problem throughout the Olympic qualification process, with phantom injuries leading to walkovers.
What the BWF have done with this landmark decision is opened the door for more walkovers instead of these farcical matches but also forced sporting integrity to be upheld. There will undoubtedly be a change to the format of the competition in Rio come 2016, but there will be little change in the nations that dominate the sport as China claimed all five gold medals in London.