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.
There were no excuses of a 3am finish today, with play ending well before midnight on Day 2 with the loss of several seeds over all 5 events.
Taufik Returns To Super Series Latter Stages
Both Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan have progressed without much fuss into the quarter finals, winning their second round matches in two games. Top seeded Lee Chong Wei takes on the unseeded Rumbaka of Indonesia in his quarter final after toppling the 6th seeded Sho Sasaki in two games. Lin Dan takes on Taufik Hidayat in one of the matches of the third day, with the Indonesian defeating Chen Jin in the second round to progress to his first Super Series Premier quarter final of 2012. It will be a massive boost to the Indonesian’s rankings with the qualification period for the London Olympics ending in just over 2 months time.
Chinese Threats Loom Large
Four of the remaining eight players in the women’s singles are the Chinese seeds, with that number set to decrease by at least one going into Saturday’s semi finals. Wang Yihan takes on Tine Baun in the quarter finals in the pick of the matches but the all-Chinese match between Wang Shixian and Jiang Yanjiao has it’s own sub plot. The Chinese number 3 and 4 are battling for the last place in the Olympic team, so this match will have massive implications on who might progress to the Olympics. Li Xuerui is the only Chinese player on the bottom half of the draw and takes on Saina Nehwal in the quarter finals.
Massive Chinese Presence In Doubles
The Chinese have three pairs in the men’s doubles quarter finals, with Cai and Fu reaching their quarter final against Ahsan and Septano without the loss of a game so far this week. Lee and Jung will have to reverse their defeat against Hong and Shen to progress into the last 4, with the unseeded Chinese pair defeating Koo and Tan of Malaysia to reach the last 8. The 5th seeded Chai and Guo take on the Danish 3rd seeds Boe and Mogensen in the pick of the men’s doubles quarter finals, with the Danish pair defeating the 5th seeds last year on route to their victory at the 2011 All Englands.
Two of the newer pairings for China face off in the women’s doubles quarter final, with Ma and Zhong taking on Huan and Tang with a likely semi final against Wang and Yu looming large. Both pairings have defeated a seed to reach the last 8, with Ma and Zhong defeating Fujii and Kakiiwa in their opening round match whilst Huan and Tang defeating Chien and Cheng of Chinese Taipei, seeded 8. The top two seeds have had little trouble in reaching the quarter finals, with both pairs needing around a hour to book their places in the quarter finals.
The GB Olympic sub-plot is very much still alive this week, with Bankier and Adcock defeating the Korean pair of Yoo and Jang to reach the last 8, only to be followed soon after by their rivals Robertson and Wallwork who defeated the 5th seeded Chen and Cheng to also book their place in the quarter finals. Adcock and Bankier take on the world number 9 pairing of Chan and Goh whilst Robertson and Wallwork take on the 4th seeded Ahmad and Natsir with the reward for another victory each is a semi final match against one another. Xu and Ma are the sole Chinese pair left in the mixed doubles and they take on the Russian pair of Nikolaenko and Sorokina who have regained the form of late last year to reach the last 8. There is also an all-Danish quarter final with Laybourn and Rytter Juhl taking on Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen for a place in the last 4.
From 10am on Wednesday, all the way to Wang Xin’s entrance onto court at 2.15am local time that topped one of the longest and most dramatic days of badminton in recent memory.
Gade Crashes Out
Peter Gade walked onto court at 1.15am local time, 5 hours later than scheduled and after claiming the first, the 4th seed hoped to get off court in double quick time. Rajiv Ouseph took the second game and with it came the realisation that the end of Gade’s history at this event was coming to an end. After going 12-1 down in third, he mounted three minor comebacks before losing the deciding game 21-14.
The likes of Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan were most likely asleep whilst play ended, with both securing a place in the second round tomorrow with routine two game victories. Kenichi Tago defeated Viktor Axelsen in two games in a match that could be repeated countless times in the next decade, with these two players highly regarded as the future of the game. Tago takes on Kazushi Yamada in an all-Japanese second round match. Taufik Hidayat takes on Chen Jin in the second round in one of the matches of the day, with both players progressing in two games today.
5 From 16 For China
Am almost full compliment of Chinese players reached the last 16 in the women’s singles, with Wang Yihan and Wang Shixian booking their places in the second round. Juliane Schenk, Tine Baun and Saina Nehwal leading the non-Chinese charge with Schenk and Nehwal needing three games to progress and the 8th seeded German finishing her game just before 2am local time.
Wang Xin was another big name casualty today, arriving on court at 2.15 local time against Sung Ji Hyun of Korea and failing to produce anything like her best in a 21-8, 21-13 defeat to the world number 12. Li Xuerui is the only Chinese player left in the bottom half of the draw, after battling back from a game down to defeat Bulgaria’s Linda Zechiri.
Bankier and Adcock Strike Again
Ko and Yoo were another big name to crash out on the opening day, with the Korean 4th seeds losing out to Fang and Lee of Chinese Taipei in two games. Lee and Jung had little trouble in reaching the second round, neither did Cai and Fu in their straight forward win over Liu and Ng of Canada. Boe and Mogensen are the main European threat this week and progressed to a second round meeting against Kido and Setiawan tomorrow. Adcock and Ellis kept local interest alive in the competition with a opening round win, but take on the 2nd seeded Lee and Jung in the second round tomorrow.
Wang and Yu made light work of Wallwork and White in their return from a 2-month hiatus, whilst their team mates Ma and Zhong surprised the 4th seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa with a three game victory. The third Chinese pair through is the unseeded pair of Huan and Tang, the German Open winners set up a second round match against Chien and Cheng of Chinese Taipei after their three game victory in the opening round. The fourth Chinese pair are the 2nd seeded Tian and Zhao, who defeated Chin and Wong of Malaysia to reach the second round.
Adcock and Bankier defeated Zhang and Zhao for the second time this year to reverse the result of the 2011 world championship final. A stunning three game victory sees them topple the world number 1 pairing in both Super Series Premier events this year and set up a second round clash with Yoo and Jang of Korea. Lee and Ha were another seeded pair to crash out today, with the 7th seeds losing out to Sato and Matsuo of Japan in two games. Ma and Xu cruised into the second round as one of only two Chinese pairs left in the draw, with He and Yixin defeating Fuchs and Michels of Germany to also reach the last 16. Robertson and Wallwork are also into the last 16, where they will take on the 5th seeded Chen and Cheng of Chinese Taipei as they battle with Adcock and Bankier for the GB spot at the 2012 Olympics.
The world’s elite descend on Birmingham for the last Premier event of the Olympic qualifying year and also the last visit for some of the world’s greatest players set to retire in London in less than 6 months time.
Gade’s Last Run
Gade confirmed on Sunday evening that this would be his last All England as a player. The 4th seed starts with a first round match against his opponent at the 2011 World Championships, England’s Rajiv Ouseph. Gade has won the previous 7 encounters against Ouseph, all in two games. Top seed Lee Chong Wei is also in Gade’s half of the draw, taking on the dangerous Wang Zhengming in his opening round match but the world number 1 has won all four of their matches in two games also.
Lin Dan enters the tournament as the form player with his fantastic run in Germany last week, he takes on India’s Ajay Jayaram in his opening round match for their first meeting. The bottom half of the draw is loaded with Chinese threats with Chen Jin and Chen Long all likely to make deep runs this week. Taufik Hidayat has dropped to 12th in the world rankings and has been displaced as Indonesia’s #1 player by Simon Santoso. His status as Indonesia’s number 2 should remain unless Tommy Sugiarto defeats Chen Jin in his opening round match, with Hidayat taking on Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon in the first round.
Chinese Strength On Show
China have only brought a mere 6 players for the women’s singles, with all of them ranked inside the top 10 in the world. Liu Xin is the only unseeded of the six and takes on Michelle Li of Canada before a likely second round match against top seeded Wang Yihan.
Should the Chinese team allow their players to play one another, this could be a fascinating week of play with six players attempting to qualify for potentially three spots in the Olympics. Wang Xin and Wang Shixian hold the other two qualifying places and both have tough openers. Wang Xin takes on the world number 12 Sung Ji Hyun of Korea whilst Wang Shixian takes on the world number 10 and world silver medalist
Cheng Shao Chieh.
Tine Baun and Juliane Schenk lead the European charge, with Baun taking on Fu Mingtian of Singapore in her opening round match whilst Juliane Schenk takes on the world number 13 Bae Youn Joo in her opening round match. The sub-plots begin on Tuesday when qualifying takes place with Susan Egelstaff and Elizabeth Cann fighting for the GB spot at the Olympics, both have been in poor runs of form but could play each other in the final qualifying round on Tuesday night in what could be a decider for the Olympic spot.
China The Nation To Beat
China hold the top seed in all three doubles events, with Cai and Fu on route to take on Lee and Jung for their 21st encounter. Last week’s winners Hong and Shen are in Lee and Jung’s half of the draw also as well as Boe and Mogensen of Denmark. Cai and Fu’s main threat in their half in the Korean pair of Ko and Yoo, their world championship opponents.
Wang and Yu have been off the radar for almost 2 months after their stunning loss to Ha and Kim in Korea, they still remain the top seeds in the women’s doubles and will face a qualifier in their opening round. Their main rivals Tian and Zhao start with Chin and Wong of Malaysia, the world number 14 pairing. Ha and Kim are the 3rd seeds this week and are in the bottom half of the draw and have a rematch of their opening round in Germany last week against Sari and Yao of Singapore who defeated them in three games.
The mixed doubles offers another Zhang and Zhao against Adcock and Bankier rematch in the first round, after meeting in the first round in Korea with the British pair coming up on top. Adcock and Bankier are also in a tight qualification fight against Robertson and Wallwork who take on the world number 11 Thai pairing of Anugritayawon and Voravichitchaikul in the opening round. Xu and Ma are the second seeds this week and start with under the circumstances an “easy” game against the world number 31 pairing of Kim and Jung of Korea. The Danish contingent could face off in the quarter final, but the 3rd seeded Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen take on the new Chinese partnership of Jiaming and Huan. Last week’s German Open winners Laybourn and Rytter Juhl await a qualifier in their opening round.
After Lee Chong Wei’s 24th and 25th Super Series titles in Korea and Malaysia, the world number 1 is the undoubted front-runner for the Olympic title. Compounded with his victory over Lin Dan in Seoul, followed by a defeat by the Olympic champion to Jan O Jorgensen in Malaysia this week. The first two Super Series titles have given us plenty of questions as well as definitive answers.
Lee Chong Wei is #1
His victory over Lin Dan re-asserted his place at the top of the world game whilst his win over Kenichi Tago showed just how far the gap is between himself at most of the field in Malaysia. There was an arrogance and a knowledge that he was the best player in the world in the Malaysian final whilst at the same time Kenichi Tago knew that he was never going to beat the Malaysian before eventually losing for the 11th time to Lee Chong Wei.
Lin Dan needs to improve
A stunning statement to make, but Lin Dan is the favourite for every event that he plays, regardless of his seeding. His defeat to Lee Chong Wei could be put down to lack of match practice or testing out new tactics ahead of the Olympics. His defeat to Jan O Jorgensen is much less forgivable, as well as dropping games in four of his five matches in Korea the week previously.
Chen Long is a legitimate #3 in the world
With the conspiracy theory that China is trying to create a false ranking for some players, Chen Long is a genuine threat in every tournament now. His retirement in Korea seemed to be an actual injury before returning to action and giving Lee Chong Wei a scare in the semi finals in Malaysia. He is perhaps a bigger threat than Lin Dan is at these events and his attendance at the final in Malaysia with no other Chinese presence with him was a telling sign in his commitment to succeed in the coming months and years. He seems to be a student of the game rather that a player engineered to win.
Gade’s schedule will be his downfall
Two early defeats in Korea and Malaysia is a unwanted parallel to Taufik’s demise in Denmark and France last year. He claimed to be fatigued after a busy schedule of the past 4 months but this is his own doing. He claimed that the Olympics would be his final tournament and has attempted to play almost every tournament since the world championships. Should he play the European Team championships in February, it would also definitely hinder his chances at the All-England Champions in early March. Gade needs to have a 6-week lay off before his final push for Olympic success.
Hidayat still competitive
His victory in India before the turn of the year propped him back into the top 10, then a victory over Tien Minh Nguyen saw him reach the last 8 of a Super Series for the first time in recent memory. A 6-week break ahead of the All-England could be just as important to Hidayat as it is to Gade.
Jorgensen’s stock is on the rise
With all the talk of Viktor Axelsen, it has perhaps motivated Jan O Jorgensen more in the past 2 weeks. After seeing his teenage team-mate lose in the opening round in both events, Jorgensen reached the semi finals in Korea and the quarter finals in Malaysia, defeating Lin Dan in the second round. Expect Jorgensen to play most of the European Team Championships as Denmark’s #1, a position that might be his on merit soon enough.
Tago needs to build on his success
After defeating Peter Gade in the second round in Malaysia, the 22-year old defeated Simon Santoso in the quarterfinals and eventually reached the final in Malaysia, before being outclassed by Lee Chong Wei in the final. His performance against Lee Chong Wei in Korea is one that he has to study, taking the Malaysia to two tight games with just a few more points needed to break the 11-match losing run he has against the world number 1.
All-England Premier – March 6-11
Swiss Open GP Gold – March 13-18
Lee Chong Wei claimed his 8th Malaysian Open in a demonstration of his ability against Kenichi Tago in the one of the most one-sided of their 11 meetings to date.
Lee Chong Wei Too Good
The highly anticipated final between Tago and Lee Chong Wei never materialized as a true contest, with too many errors from the Japanese player in the opening game. The first match was done in just 13 minutes, with the world number 1 taking the opening game 21-6. After a small delay in the second game, the Malaysian continued his masterclass and eventually took the second game 21-13h to clinch his second Super Series title of 2012 and his 25th of his career.
Top Chinese Seeds Win
It was the first against the second seeds in the all-Chinese finals, with a gulf in class clearly evident in the mixed doubles final as Zhang and Zhao got back to winning ways against their team mates Xu and Ma in a one-sided final, winning 21-12, 21-9 in just 27 minutes. Wang Yihan defeated Wang Xin in the women’s singles final, after a tight opening game the world number 1 was much more comfortable in the second game. Her 21-19, 21-11 victory is a clear sign that she is the top player in the world, not just in China.
Danish Delight In Doubles
Fang and Lee claiming the men’s doubles title against Cho and Shin, with the world number 13′s claiming their first Super Series title after dropping the opening game only to bounce back and claim the next two games. Rytter Juhl and Pedersen claimed Europe’s only title in the women’s doubles final after defeating the Korean pair of Ha and Kim in two games as the 2nd seed lost in the final of this event for the second week running.
A nation expects on finals day as Lee Chong Wei looks to claim his second title of 2012 on home soil after a three-game, 76-minute victory over Chen Long in the final match on semi finals days.
Tago Into Final
Keinchi Tago’s semi final with Chen Jin lasted just 5 points before the Chinese 5th seeded pulled out of the match, allowing the Japanese player a free pass into tomorrow’s final. It will be Tago’s 11th meeting with Lee Chong Wei, having lost the previous 10 and claiming just two games from those matches. Lee Chong Wei will hope to claim his final title on home soil tomorrow, with a nation expecting victory.
Two All-Chinese Finals
Without the big names in the doubles, the Chinese squad have still managed to claim a pair of all-Chinese matches. The first is in the women’s singles where Wang Yihan takes on Wang Xin for the title, with the world number one having a 7-2 advantage in their head to heads to date. The other final comes in the mixed doubles, as the top two pairs in the world battle it out for the 9th time, with the current world champions holding a 6-2 advantage.
The men’s doubles has for the first time in recent history no seeds in the final, with Cho and Shin of Korea taking on Fang and Lee of Chinese Taipei. Cho and Shin defeated Chai and Guo in their semi final whilst Fang and Lee took out Hashimoto and Hirata in their semi final to set up this unlikely final.
Rytter Juhl and Pedersen are the sole European hope on finals day, after defeating Zhong and Yixin to set up a final against the second seeded Ha and Kim of Korea. The 2nd seeds defeating Matsuo and Naito in their semi final to set up the 4th encounter between these two paits, with the Korean’s holding a 3-0 advantage to date.
It was 18th and potentially last encounter between two of the greatest players of the last 15 years, as Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat took on Lee Chong Wei on his home soil in Malaysia.
Tago Takes Out Another Seed
Kenichi Tago’s victory over Simon Santoso was his second seeded scalp this week, after taking out Gade in the second round. The unseeded Japanese player defeated the 7th seeded Santoso in a one-sided match, winning 21-15, 21-9 to set up a semi final against Chen Jin of China. The 5th seed defeated Jan O Jorgensen in his quarter final in a three game match to ensure his place in the last 4.
Lee Chong Wei defeated Taufik Hidayat in two games to claim his 12th victory in their 18 matchups to reach the last 4 to set up his 10th encounter with China’s Chen Long, who has taken 3 of the last 4 matches against the world number 1. Chen Long defeated Sho Sasaki in three games to reach the last 4 and set up his semi final with Lee Chong Wei.
Top 4 Into Semis
The top 4 seeds in the women’s singles are all present at the semi final stage this week, with Saina Nehwal breaking the Chinese monopoly on the semi final places. Wang Yihan takes on Saina Nehwal in the first of the semi finals, with the world number 1 not dropping a game to date whilst Nehwal was taken to a third game for the second time this week by Tine Baun in her quarter final. Wang Xin takes on Wang Shixian in the other semi final with their head to head evenly matched at 5-5 going into tomorrow’s semi final.
One European Hope Remains
The doubles events have been dominated by the Asian’s this week, with just a single European pairing left in either of the three events. Only two seeds remain in the men’s doubles as Chai and Guo take on the unseeded Korean pair of Cho and Shin for a place in Sunday’s final, whilst the other semi finals sees the 6th seeded Hashimoto and Hirata take on the unseeded Chinese Taipei pair of Fang and Lee, who defeated their second Chinese pairing of Hong and Shen to reach the semi finals.
Pedersen and Rytter Juhl are the only European hope left in any draw, their victory over the top seeded Japanese pairing of Fujii and Kakiiwa sets up a semi final against Zhong and Yixin of China who benefitted from a retirement from Woo and Hong halfway through the second game of their quarter final. The other semi final sees the 2nd seeded Ha and Kim take on the 4th seeded Matsuo and Naito of Japan.
Lee Yong Dae’s run ends at the quarter final stage, as he and partner Ha Jung Eun lost to the 2nd seeded Xu and Ma of China in two games. The Chinese pairing take on the 4th seeded Ahmad and Natsir in the semi finals after the Indonesian’s defeated the Thai pairing of Jongjit and Amitapai to reach the last 4. Chan and Goh saved four match points before their eventual progression to the last 4 to ensure some Malaysian interest in the semi finals. Their opponents in the semi final are the top seeded Zhang and Zhao of China who defeated the on-form pairing of Nikolaenko and Soronkina in their quarter final match.
Quarter Final Results