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:
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:
20 matches were scheduled for Friday, but only 19 took place as the all-Chinese match between the top seeded Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang and the 6th seeded Zhao Yunlei and Cheng Shu resulted in a wakover victory for the top seeds. Another asterisk will put next to another victory between two Chinese pairs.
Lee Chong Wei successfully reached the last 4 with a two game victory over Hu Yun and takes on Wong Wing Ki in the first of the semi finals. Sony Dwi Kuncoro has been having a renaissance in the past few months and continues his excellent form with a victory over Takuma Ueda to reach the last 4. His opponent in the semi final will be Du Pengyu of China, with the Indonesian holding a 3-1 advantage in their head to head, defeating the Chinese player in their most recent matchup in China just 2 months ago.
Saina Nehwal was the latest big name casualty in the women’s singles, losing to China’s Li Han in three games as the world number 26 continues her incredible rise up the world rankings. Sung Ji Hyun will be her opponent in the semi finals, with the world number 7 being Korea’s last chance of a singles title in Seoul this year. The second semi final will also be a tightly contested match between te enigmatic Wang Shixian and the future of Japanese badminton, Minatsu Mitani. Mitani has rised to world number 10 and defeated Wang Shixian in the last meeting in China in September but a victory for the 5th seed would edge her back closer towards the top 4 in the world rankings.
Lee and Ko safely progressed into the semi finals as they look for their second title of their new partnership. They take on Koo and Tan in the semi finals, who defeated the Korean pair on their Super Series debut in Denmark last year. Since then Lee and Ko have avenged that defeat and broke into the top 10 of the world rankings. Top seeded Boe and Mogensen take on the 7th seeded Hong and Shen in the second semi final, with the Danes holding a 2-1 head to head lead against the Chinese pair but their only victory came at this event 12 months ago.
Jung and Kim ended any possibility of an all-Chinese semi final with a victory over Bao and Tian to set up a semi final against Wang and Yu. It will the first time since their Olympic farce that these two pairs will be against one another. Ma and Tang ensure there is still a possibility of an all-Chinese final in the event, but they will take on the 2nd seeded Danish pair of Pedersen and Rytter Juhl in their semi final but the Chinese pair hold the advantage in their head to head, winning their only matchup to date at the French Open last year.
Ma Jin and Christinna Pedersen are the last two players left this week capable of taking two titles and in the mixed doubles they are on separate sides of the draw. Ma and Xu take on the 5th seeded Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam in the first semi final with the Chinese pair winning all 4 of their matchups so far. Olympic champions Zhang and Zhao take on the Danish pair of Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen with the 6th seeds claiming two victories at the Super Series finals at the end of 2012 to take a 6-4 advantage in their head to head.
Day 3 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.
With six medals still on offer, the final day of Olympic badminton promised to be special. China were assured of two medals with the possibility of three as Lin Dan defended his Olympic title in another classic.
Lin Dan Claims Gold
The 2011 meeting in this arena between Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei was widely considered to the greatest match ever played. The 2012 meeting for Olympic gold will definitely be a contender to that title. An animated Lee Chong Wei took the opening game as a lackluster Lin Dan made several critical areas as the Malaysian dominated at the net. The second game was a role reversal, with the drift inside the arena playing it’s part over the first two games.
The third game had everything you could ever wish for, long pulsating rallies and two of the best players of this or any generation retrieving shots that nobody thought possible. Lin Dan turned 11-9 up, but the ascendancy changed throughout the second game, with Lee Chong Wei taking an 18-16 lead as Malaysia hoped for gold. Lin Dan replied with the play that won him Olympic gold in Beijing four years previously. The score became 19-19 after the Malaysia left a lift that landed on the line, with Lin Dan going on an all-out attack to claim the first gold medal point.
The rally drew comparisons with Lin Dan’s match point a year previously, pushing deep into Lee Chong Wei’s forehand rear before a tight net shot from Lin Dan forced a high lift from the Malaysian that Lin Dan watched out of the back of the court before sprinting off court in celebration with the Chinese coaches in his wake. Lee Chong Wei remained on court to be consoled by his coaches. Lin Dan claimed his second gold medal 15-21, 21-10, 21-19 in 79 minutes.
Chen Long claimed the bronze medal in a three game victory over Lee Hyun Il to ensure an 8th medal out of a possible 15.
Cai and Fu Win Gold
The men’s doubles final was between Cai and Fu of China against Boe and Mogensen of Denmark, who defeated the world number 1 pairing of Lee and Chung, won had already won the bronze medal in the morning session. The match was competitive, but there was only going to be one winner as the Danish pair had already played their final in the semi finals in beating Lee and Chung. The 21-15, 21-16 score was an accurate representation of the match as a whole, with the Chinese pairing just too strong for the Danes.
The win ensured a clean sweep of the medals for China, with four new gold medalists in Li Xuerui, Cai and Fu, Tian and Zhao Yunlei, who claimed two golds, one in the women’s doubles and another in the mixed with Zhang Nan.