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.
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.
The story of the day was the hope of a title remaining in Germany with Juliane Schenk but at the end of play on Sunday, the storyline was nothing new as China took 4 of the 5 titles.
Danish Delight In Mixed
The only title not won by the Chinese was the mixed doubles, won by Laybourn and Rytter Juhl who defeated their higher seeded opponents Lee and Ha in a stunning 21-9, 21-16 victory to ensure one title would remain in Europe and giving the Danish pair a massive boost going into the All England Championships.
Four For China
Lin Dan was the overwhelming favourite at the start of the week and was rarely tested throughout the week, claiming victory in the final over Simon Santoso 21-11, 21-11 to claim the men’s singles title. Huan and Tang took the women’s doubles title with a two game victory over Jung and Kim of Korea. The Korean’s could have claimed three titles today also which was another storyline of the day as they left with none.
Hong and Shen stunned the top seeded Lee and Jung in the men’s doubles final, winning their tight three game match in 65 minutes to ensure Lee Yong Dae would leave Germany empty handed. Li Xuerui finished the run of Juliane Schenk at the final hurdle in the women’s singles final, a spirited performance from Schenk was to no avail as the 2nd seeded Chinese player took the title 21-19, 21-16.
Germany’s hope of a title on home soil lies with Juliane Schenk, the 3rd seeded topped the world number 2 Wang Xin to reach the women’s singles final.
Chinese Presence In Singles Finals
Lin Dan progressed into tomorrow’s men’s singles final with a straight forward two game victory over Tommy Sugiarto to stop any chance of an all-Indonesian final. Simon Santoso defeated Jan O Jorgensen in two games to set up a 10th meeting with Lin Dan, with his sole victory coming by way of walkover in 2007. Li Xuerui takes on Juliane Schenk in the women’s singles final after the 2nd seed topped Gu Juan in her semi final in two games.
Lee Going For Two Titles
Lee Yong Dae has successfully reached the mixed and men’s doubles finals, losing just two games on route to both finals. Lee and Jung defeated the Japanese pairing of Endo and Hayakawa but their 2nd seeded team-mates Ko and Yoo crashed out in the second semi final to the unseeded pair of Hong and Shen. This is the 6th meeting between the pairs, with the top seeded Koreans winning the previous 5 matches.
The 7th and 8th seeds will play in the women’s doubles final, with the 7th seeded Jung and Kim defeating the 2nd seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa to reach the final. The second semi final saw the 8th seeded Huan and Tang defeating Cheng and Pan in an all-Chinese semi final. The 8th seeded Chinese pair hold a 1-0 advantage in the head to head in previous meetings.
Lee and Ha needed over an hour to defeat the unseeded Japanese pairing of Sato and Matsuo before booking their place in the mixed doubles final. Their opponent will be the 2009 world champions, Laybourn and Rytter Juhl who defeated the 2nd seeded Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam in the second semi final. This will be the first meeting between the world number 7 and 8 pairings.
The week begun with high hopes for Marc Zwiebler and Juliane Schenk, but going into the weekend there is only Juliane Schenk left in the draw from all of the German entries that started the week.
Jorgensen Keeps European Hopes Alive
Lin Dan progressed into the semi finals with a tough two game victory over Hans-Kristian Vittinghus where he will take on Tommy Sugiarto after the Indonesian defeated Ville Lang in his quarter final encounter. Simon Santoso ensured a double Indonesian threat with his victory over Shon Wan Ho but needed 79 minutes and also to save a match point to ensure his place in the last 4. Jan O Jorgensen defeated Wong Wing Ki in his quarter final in two game to ensure at least one European player still playing at the weekend.
Schenk Faces Toughest Task
Juliane Schenk claimed a three game victory over Inthanon Ratchanok in just over an hour to book her place in the semi finals. Her opponent in the last 4 is the top seeded Wang Xin, who needed three games to defeated Sung Ji Hyun which will give Schenk some hope of an upset tomorrow even though she has lost all of her three meetings with the world number 2 without taking a game in either. The other semi final sees Li Xuerui take on the unseeded Gu Juan of Singapore, with the added intrigue that Gu Juan beat the 2nd seed in their last encounter in China last September.
European Interest Down To 1
Only Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl have any hope of an Asian clean sweep in the doubles events, with the 4th seeds defeating Yoo and Jang in their quarter final and take on the 2nd seeded Thai pair of Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam in the semi final. Lee and Ha take on the unseeded Japanese pair of Sato and Matsuo in the other semi final, with Lee Yong Dae looking for two titles this week.
Lee and partner Jung Jae Sung are through to the semi finals of the women’s doubles with a walkover against Kim and Kim in their quarter final match. They take on the unseeded pair of Endo and Hayakawa in their semi final match and the chance of an all-Korean final looms large with the 2nd seeded Ko and Yoo taking on Hong and Shen of China in the second semi final.
China have ensured a place in Sunday’s women’s doubles final, with Cheng and Pan taking on the 8th seeded Huan and Tang in the semi finals, with the seeded pair defeating the 3rd seeds Maeda and Suetsuna of Japan to reach the last 4. Fujii and Kakiiwa ensure at least some Japanese involvement, as the 2nd seeds take on the Korean pair of Jung and Kim in the other semi final.
It was a day of double disappointment for the German fans, as one of their unseeded doubles pairing crashed out but more surprisingly saw the exit of the 7th seeded Marc Zwiebler.
Lang Outlasts Thomsen
The opening match of the day turned out to be the highlight of the day, as Ville Lang and Christian Lind Thomsen played what could be the longest match of the year. The 104-minute encounter was one of the closest faught matches of the year to date, with the Finn coming through 19-21, 21-19, 21-16 to book his place in the last 8 against Tommy Sugiarto after the Indonesia defeated Lee Hyun Il in his third round match.
Hans-Kristian Vittinghus’ reward for defeating Marc Zwiebler in his third round match is a quarter final against the top seed Lin Dan. The Chinese top seed is the only seed remaining from the top 4, with 3rd seed Sho Sasaki losing out to Shon Wan Ho whilst the 2nd seeded Chen Jin was defeated by Wong Wing Ki in two games.
Schenk Into Last 8
The big German hope this week lay with the 3rd seeded Juliane Schenk and so far, she has progressed into the latter stages without much resistance. A tough test awaits in Inthanon Ratchanok but the German holds a 2-0 head to head record against the world number 11. The top two seeds have been just as impressive as Schenk, with Wang Xin taking on Sung Ji Hyun in her toughest match of the week to date whilst Li Xuerui takes on Hong Kong’s Chen Tsz Ka in her quarter final matchup.
Asian Dominance In Doubles
21 of the 24 pairs remaining in the three events are from Asia, with a lone Danish pair and two pairs from Germany making up the list. The men’s doubles is an all-Asia affair, with Lee and Jung taking on Kim and Kim in an all-Korean quarter final. The 2nd seeds Ko and Yoo take on the 5th seeded Hashimoto and Hirata of Japan in the last 8, but the Japanese pair have won their previous two encounters.
Marinello and Michels took full advantage of the loss of the top seeds by progressing to the last 8 after a victory over the pairing of Sari and Yao who defeated the top seeded Ha and Kim in the opening round. Their quarter final opponents are the unseeded Chinese pair of Cheng and Pan who defeated the 6th seeded Jauhari and Polii to reach the last 8.
The two European seeds in the mixed doubles still remain, with Laybourn and Rytter Juhl taking on the Korean pair of Yoo and Jang in their quarter final match whilst the 8th seeded German pairing of Fuchs and Michels also take on a Korean pair. The 3rd seeded Lee and Ha wait in the quarter finals with the winning pair being the sole seeded pair left in the top half of the draw after the exit of the top seeded Chen and Cheng to Korean’s Kim and Jung in two games.