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:
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: