The first medals were awarded as the mixed doubles reached it’s conclusion, with the current world champions claiming Olympic gold over their Chinese rivals and team mates.
Zhang and Zhao Claim Gold
The 2011 world champions became the 2012 Olympic champions, claim both titles inside Wembley Arena. Their opponents this time around were Xu and Ma, who were defeated in the semi finals 12 months previously. What many hoped would be a tightly fought contest were left disappointed, as Zhang and Zhao outclassed their Chinese team mates in a 21-11, 21-17 victory.
The bronze medal was won by Joachim Fischer Neilsen and Christinna Pedersen of Denmark, who defeated Ahmad and Natsir in another one-sided match to ensure at least one European medal, with the world number 4 pairing winning 21-12, 21-12.
All Chinese Finals In Women’s Singles
One space was guaranteed for the Chinese, as Wang Xin took on Li Xuerui in the second semi final. Wang Yihan ensured an all-Chinese final with an excellent two game victory over Saina Nehwal of India, with the world number 5 being the sole hope remaining to ensure there wouldn’t be a Chinese monopoly of the medals.
Li Xuerui continued her stunning form in 2012 with a two game victory over her higher ranked team mate Wang Xin in two tight games to book her place in the final against Wang Yihan. It will be their 8th meeting between the two, with Wang Yihan leading 4-3 but Li Xuerui has won the previous three occasions, with their last meeting being a two game victory in the Indonesian Super Series Premier.
Lee Against Lin
It will their 30th encounter between the top two players in the world in a repeat of the 2008 Olympic final as Lin Dan takes on Lee Chong Wei. Both players comfortably defeated their semi final opponents in two games, with Lee Chong Wei defeating Chen Long whilst Lin Dan defeated Lee Hyun Il.
It will be the first time in the sports history in the Olympics that the same two players will play for the gold medal in two consecutive Olympics in what could potentially be the final match of their historic rivalry.
The All England Champions Ahmad and Natsir continued their excellent recent run of form with a second week in as many weeks whilst Saina Nehwal shocked Wang Shixian to take the women’s singles title.
Two Titles For China
The world number 20 and 21 pairs faced off in the women’s doubles final, with Huan and Tang defeating their 6th seeded opponents Bao and Zhong in the all-Chinese final. Chen Jin edges every closer to reaching the Olympics and overtaking Peter Gade for the world number 4 spot with his victory in the men’s singles over Lee Hyun Il of Korea.
Three More Asian Titles
Kawamae and Sato claimed the men’s doubles title, after a 2 game victory over Fang and Lee of Chinese Taipei to claim their second victory over their opponents in the final in the space of 3 weeks. Ahmad and Natsir claimed the mixed doubles title with a straight forward 2 game victory over Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam of Thailand in just 23 minutes. Saina Nehwal claimed the women’s singles after defeating her second Chinese opponent of the week in Wang Shixian. The Indian 3rd seeded defeated Liu Xin in the quarter finals before defeating the 2nd seeded Wang Shixian in two games to claim the title.
Quarter final day was a day dominated by the Chinese and for Asia as just one European pair is left in the 5 events.
Hidayat And Mitani Surprise In Singles
Taufik Hidayat is through to the last 4 after a three game victory over Shon Wan Ho and takes on Chen Jin in the first semi final tomorrow. Hidayat defeated Chen Jin last week at the All Englands but the 5th seed still holds a 3-2 advantage in head to heads. Lee Hyun Il takes on Chen Long in the second of the semi finals with both players failing to drop a game to date. Chen Long holds a 3-1 advantage on their head to head.
Minatsu Mitani has been the surprise package this week, promoted from qualifying and benefitting from Wang Yihan’s withdrawal, her victory over Bae Youn Joo sets up a semi final with Saina Nehwal who won their only previous encounter last year in three games. Wang Shixian ended Juliane Schenk’s run to set up a semi final against Inthanon Ratchanok who beat the 2nd seed in their most recent encounter.
Adcock and Bankier playing for Europe
Seeds 5, 6, 7 and 8 are into the last 4 of the men’s doubles, with Chandra and Gunawan taking on Kawamae and Sato in a battle of the top highest seeds left in the draw. Fang and Lee take on Endo and Hayakawa. Whilst in the women’s doubles, a Chinese threat looms large as the top seeded Ha and Kim take on the 6th seeded Chinese pair of Bao and Zhong in the first semi final in their first meeting. Huan and Tang take on Chin and Wong on the second semi final in the battle of the unseeded pairs.
Adcock and Bankier take on the top seeded pair of Ahmad and Natsir after defeating Chan and Goh in three games and saving two match points. Bankier and Adcock progressed without much resistance to set up their second meeting between the two pairs with the British pair winning their world championship semi final in London. He and Bao are a new Chinese pairing with a lot of potential and have reached the last 4 taking on Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam in the second semi final.
It was a week for parity to be restored within all five events, with none of the top seeds claiming an All England title to make the run-up to the Olympics all the more exciting.
Turning The Tide In The Chinese Squad
The biggest shocks of the day came in the women’s events, none more so than Tian and Zhao’s demolition of the world number 1 pairing of Wang and Yu. The 21-19, 21-13 scoreline was a accurate representation of the difference, with Wang Xiaoli looking especially flustered by the occasion. Li Xuerui topped Wang Yihan in the women’s singles final as the balance of power within these events is turning towards the lower seeded players and pairings. Li Xuerui was outside the top 10 just 3 months ago but has claimed victories over the world number 4 Saina Nehwal and world number 1 this week.
Indonesia And Korea Claim Titles
The hope of a European winner this week ended in a 43-minute final that seen Ahmad and Natsir defeated the Danish pairing of Laybourn and Rytter Juhl, with the Dane’s impressive run ending at the final hurdle. Lee and Jung took an 11-10 lead in their rivalry over Cai and Fu as they topped the top seeds in three games to tip the balance back on their side just ahead of the Olympics.
A Disappointing End
Even before the match started, there were injury concerns with Lee Chong Wei and throughout the opening game there were signs that the match wasn’t going to go the distance. The Malaysian received treatment during the opening game and after losing the opener 21-19, received yet more treatment. The second game lasted all but 8 points with Lin Dan ahead 6-2 before Lee Chong Wei’s retirement through injury. It is another disappointing exit for one of the world’s great players at the All England, with Gade’s defeating on the opening night.
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.
It was the final that few people expected with Lin Dan returning, but few people will begrudge Gade a place in the final.
The world number 1 has been relentless in his route through to the final, his two game victory over Chen Long was his longest match of the week but was never in threat of dropping even a single game in his 21-17, 21-18 victory. Gade defeated the on-form Sho Sasaki who has beaten Lin Dan and Chen Jin on route to the semi final, but Dane has been been in excellent form this week and won with his biggest margin of victory of the week, winning 21-11, 21-14 to reach the final.
Saina Pushed To The Brink
Saina Nehwal’s recent events have been littered with tough openers, but this week she was given the chance to play her way into form and has delivered with a place in the final. Her toughest match was her semi final against Cheng Shao Chieh, who herself put out a pair of Chinese seeds to reach the semi final, but the Indian 4th seed was too strong, winning 21-14, 14-21, 21-17. Her opponent in tomorrow’s final is the 3rd seeded Wang Yihan of China, who has been very impressive this week in her route to the final. The Chinese player hasn’t dropped a game this week and defeated her team-mate Jiang Yanjiao in outstanding fashion in her semi final, winning 21-13, 21-12.
Indonesia’s Pair Of Chances
The men’s doubles will be an all-Chinese affair between Cai and Fu, seeded 3 against Chai and Guo, seeded 8. Both pairs came through their Indonesian opponents, with Cai and Fu defeating Kido and Setiawan in two games whilst the pair of Chai and Guo were pushed to the limit by Ahsan and Septano before winning in three games.
The unseeded Marissa and Melati booked their place in the women’s doubles final with a two game victory over Fujii and Kakiiwa in an impressive 21-12, 21-12 victory. They take on the top seeded Wang and Yu in the final, who were equally impressive in their 21-10, 21-12 victory over Pedersen and Rytter Juhl in the over semi final.
Ahmad and Natsir are also through to the mixed doubles final after beating the 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl in two games but also face the top seeded Chinese pair in the final. Zhang and Zhao defeated Chen and Cheng 21-17, 21-17 to book their place in the final, without the loss of a game this week.
The question marks over the 2008 Olympic champions Lee and Lee making the World Championships were still unanswered as little as 3 weeks ago as Lee Hyo Jung pulled out of Macau just as Lee Yong Dae returned from his own injury layoff, however they are here in Paris. The Chinese squad come here without a seed in the top 5 and will look for an exceptional performance from one of three seeded pairings.
The top seeds are Widianto and Natsir and after their first round bye, they will play another Indonesia pair of Kurniawan and Bernadet ranked 14th in the world but not seeded for the world championships. The 11th seeded Chen and Chou is the other seeds in the section and play against Germany’s Schottler and Marinello for a place in the second round, the other match in the section is between Australian pair Raj and Renuga Veeran and Yoo and Kim of Korea.
Zheng and Ma are the 8th seeds, even though they are provisionally ranked 35th in the world and have failed to live up to the hype surrounding them for the past few years, could this year be their year? They begin their campaign against Zavadsky and Diptan of Ukraine, ranked 91st in the world. Also in this section is the 14th seeds, Thailand’s Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam who begin their campaign against Croatia’s Durkinjak and Poznanovic, the world number 58. The other match in the section is between Wong and Chau of Hong Kong, the world number 62 against the world number 52 pairing of Sam and Chloe Magee.
Poland’s Mateusiak and Kostiuczyk are seeded 3 for the event and have a tough opening match in the second round against the world number 27 duo of Triyachart and Yao of Singapore. This section will clearly be one of the toughest to progress through as the 9th seeded Diju V and Jwala Gutta take on the world number 21 pairing of Adcock and White of England. The final match of the section sees Chan and Goh of Malaysia take on the Belgian pair of Gillis and Corvillain.
The 5th seeded Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen are another high seeding with a tough opening match, against the 23rd ranked Sorokina and Nikolaenko of Russia in their second round match. The 12th seeded Ko and Ha from Korea have an easier start than the other seeds in the section, taking on Jacquet and Dumartharay of Switzerland. The first of the French pairings are in this section also, Careme and Choinet take on the Japanese pairing of Hashimoto and Fujii, who are both seeded in their level doubles events and could be a pairing to watch this week.
Lee and Lee are seeded 7 for the event, even thought they have a world ranking of 5. Perhaps there are still concerns of Lee Yong Dae’s injury, but the 7th seeds take on Larsen and Schjoett-Kristiansen of Denmark, ranked 32nd in the world and will test the Korean’s credentials in their opening game. The 16th seeded Lee and Chien have a tough match to start out also, against Russia’s Durkin and Vislova, ranked 31 in the world. The final match in the section sees Wiratama and Tse of Hong Kong take on Vietnam’s Duc and Ham, ranked 112 in the world.
The 4th seeds are another Indonesia pair in Gunawan and Marissa who begin their campaign against James and Edwards of South Africa, ranked 97th in the world. The 10th seeds Jiaming and Yawen take on France’s Rasadi and Labar in one of the weaker sections of the draw, with the final match of the section between world number 25 Ng and Gao against Hirata and Miyuki of Japan, ranked 34 in the world being easily the most competitive match in the section.
The big Chinese hope is in the 6th seeded He and Yu, who are ranked below Jiamind and Yawen but received a higher seeding. He and Yu begin their campaign against the Spanish pair of Longo and Ojeda. The 13th seeded Anugrtiayawon and Voravichitchalkul from Thailand take on the German duo of Overzier and Kindervater, ranked 67th in the world. The final match of the section sees Misha and Svetlana Zilberman of Israel take on Zirnwald and Prustch of Austria.
The final section sees the 2nd seeded and current World Champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl take on the Polish pair of Szkudiarczyk and Wojtkowska in the second round after their first round byes. The other seed in the section is the 15th seeds, Wallwork and Robertson of England who begin their campaign with a first round match against Prus and Atrashchenkov of Ukraine. The final match in the section is between the Bulgarian pair of Makarski and Dimova and Dutch pairing of Khoabux and Barning in an excellent matchup between the world number 36 and 39 in the world.
The Mixed doubles will be one of the few events where anyone from ten seeds could win the title. The Olympic Champions come into the event as top seeds, with the 2007 World Champions second seeds. The on-form couple coming into the tournament are also the third seeds.
2007 World Championship Winners: Nova Widianto and Liliyana Natsir
2008 Olympic Champions: Lee Jong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung
Lee Jong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung
Last Tournament: Indonesia Super Series (Finalists)
2nd Round Opponents: NO MATCH
The draw has opened out well for the top seeds, a first round bye as well as their second round opponents pulling out allows both partners to focus on their other discipline before taking to the court already in the round of 16.
However, this means their first match together is likely to be against 14th seeded Chinese couple Xu Chen and Zhao Yunlei. It could work in their favour or the two byes to the last 16 could be the worst thing to happen to the top seeds.
Other Seeds to Watch:
Nova Widianto and Liliyana Natsir
Last Tournament: Indonesian Super Series (Quarter Finals)
2nd Round Opponents: Aleksei Konakh and Alesia Zaitsava (BLR)
The 2007 World Champions have had an indifferent 2009 since their win early in the year in the Malaysia Super Series. They have reached the latter stages in the last few months without winning a competition since January.
Their big test will come in the last eight against Indian couple Jwala Gutta and Diju Valiyaveetil, a couple which beat them in the Korean Super Series this year.
Ma Jin and Zheng Bo
Last Tournament: Malaysian Open (Won)
2nd Round Opponents: Goh Liu Ying and Chan Peng Soon (MAL)
If you’re looking for the form couple, look no further. Winners of the last three Super Series events, beating the top seeded Lee and Lee in two of the Super Series finals. Ma Jin is arguably the most on-form doubles player in the world right now, winning both the level and mixed in Malaysia just 6 weeks ago.
A potential semi-final against Lee and Lee would be worthy of the final, if both make it to the last 4.
These are the “big three” who will be the favourites for the title, 4th seeded Yu Yang and He Hanbin of China are another couple with a real chance, but to make it through to the last four they have to beat 6th seeded Pedersen and Fischer Nielsen in the quarter finals.
Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg are seeded 11 and have made a run in this tournament in 2007 previously. The final four couples from the Beijing Olympics are all seeded in the top 5, with second seeded pair Zheng Bo and Gao Ling no longer playing together, Zheng Bo’s new partnership with Ma Jin has them seeded 3rd.
The two Danish couples ranked 6th and 7th are also strong contenders, it’s perhaps the most open draw at this years World Championships.