It was a day with German, Danish and Indian involvement hoping to overcome the odds to reach the last 4 against a fierce contingent of local players and the all-conquering Chinese. For the most part, the latter pair of nations took the spoils.
Lee and Lin Ever Closer To A Korean Rematch
Form might be temporary, but this week has seen the form players in the world reach the last 4 with the unlikely inclusion of Du Pengyu who announced his arrival this week with his opening round demolition of Peter Gade. The Chinese player now has his toughest match of the week against the world number 1 Lee Chong Wei, with the hope of setting up a potential all-Chinese final after the Malaysia defeating Kenichi Tago once more in their one-sided rivalry. Lin Dan would be the second part of the final, with a three game victory over Jan O Jorgensen setting up a semi final against Sho Sasaki who ended European chances in the event with his two game victory over Marc Zwiebler.
A Chinese Monopoly Broken
China hoped for an all-Chinese semi final line-up to cement their place at the top of the women’s singles game, however Bae Youn Joo did not read the script in her victory over Li Xuerui to break the Chinese monopoly of the last 4 places. The Korean takes on Wang Shixian in the semi final, with the 2nd seed failing to drop a game to this point. The other semi final is an all-Chinese clash between the world number 1 Wang Yihan and Jiang Yanjiao. The top seed ended European hopes with a two game victory over Germany’s Juliane Schenk whilst Jiang Yanjiao ended India’s hopes with her own two game victory over Saina Nehwal.
China And Korea Dominate Doubles
Of the 12 pairs remaining in the three doubles events, only two are not Korean or Chinese. The men’s doubles has a Korean majority of 3 to 1 over it’s Chinese rivals. With Cai and Fu the lone Chinese hope in the event. The top seeds take on Ko and Yoo of Korea for a place in Sunday’s final whilst Lee and Jung take on their countrymen Kim and Kim who ended Hong and Shen’s run this week to ensure a sole Chinese entry in the semi finals.
The women’s doubles has two China-Korea matches, with Wang and Yu taking on Ha and Kim in the first semi final in a meeting that has been monumentally one sided. The 6-0 advantage to the Chinese pair is a similar record to most of the other pairs in the world as the world number 1 pair look to extended their unbeaten run to a calendar year. The other semi final sees Tian and Zhao take on Jung and Kim, an unseeded pair who defeated the 7th seeded Matsuo and Naito to reach this stage.
European hopes lay in the mixed doubles, with interest in both semi finals. Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen will be the pair that people will easily recognise, they take on Xu and Ma in the second semi final between the top highest seeds left in the draw. The other semi final features Lee Yong Dae, looking for a historic double in his home country with partner Ha Jung Eun. The Korean pair take on the Russian pairing of Nikolaenko and Sorokina, who defeated He and Yixin in their quarter final in the biggest win of their careers to date.
After losing the top seed in the mixed doubles, the Chinese squad got back on track in Seoul today whilst the Danish contingent had little to celebrate in the second round.
Four Seeds Remain
The top two in the world progressed to the last 8 with both needing the full three games to ensure their place in the quarter finals. Lee Chong Wei was tested by Shon Wan Ho before eventually setting up his quarter final match with Kenichi Tago. Simon Santoso is the other seed remaining in the top half of the draw who will likely move up the rankings after this week after securing a quarter final match against Du Pengyu who continues his excellent run with a three game victory over Hu Yun.
A lot was expected of Marc Zwiebler after his double victory over Taufik Hidayat and he has finally delivered with a run to a Premier quarter final against Sho Sasaki. The Japanese 6th seed was impressive in his two game victory over Wang Zhengming to ensure his place in the last 8. Jan O Jorgensen claimed the biggest scalp of the day in his victory over Chen Jin in three games to set up a quarter final against Lin Dan, who had his own struggles in beating Lee Hyun Il before progressing in three games.
Chinese Presence In All Quarter Finals
All four of the quarter finals will have some Chinese presence as the three seeded players are joined in the last 8 by Li Xuerui. Juliane Schenk is the sole European in the draw but will have a tough test to still be in the draw after the end of play tomorrow as she takes on Wang Yihan, whilst Jiang Yanjiao or Saina Nehwal will face the winner depending on the result of their quarter final in the top half of the draw. Wang Shixian takes on Gu Juan for a place in the last 4 whilst the only non-seeded Chinese player Li Xuerui takes on Bae Youn Joo in the second quarter final in the bottom half of the draw.
Seeds Topple In Men’s Doubles
Only three seeds remain in the draw, with a Cai/Fu versus Lee/Jung final looming large. Boe and Mogensen crashed out to Hong and Shen of China who take on Korea’s Kim and Kim for a place in the semi final. Lee and Jung needed three games to ensure their place in the last 8 where they will take on the Chinese Taipei pair of Fang and Lee a place in the last 4. Cai and Fu saved a match point before booking their place in the quarter finals against the German pairing of Fuchs and Roth, the last remaining European pair in the draw. Ko and Yoo will hope to ensure an all-Korean final as they try to progress into the last 4 in their match against Endo and Hayakawa of Japan.
Chinese Powerhouses Cruise Into Last 8
Wang and Yu progressed into the last 8 in straight forward fashion, and were joined by their team-mates Tian and Zhao in equally impressive fashion. The prospect of a ninth meeting of the year in Sunday is almost a foregone conclusion, such is their gap at the top of the world’s elite. Xu and Ma are into the last 8 in the mixed doubles and take on the 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl in their quarter final matchup. Whilst in the top half, He and Yixin ensured a Chinese involvement after their victory over Adcock and Bankier in the second round.
The 2012 Olympics signals the end of four legendary careers, with the hope of a last great battle between Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan for the Olympic gold on August 5, 2012. August of this year provided with perhaps the greatest advertisement for the game that there has ever been as Lee Chong Wei took on Lin Dan for the 2011 World Championship.
Malaysia expected as Lee Chong Wei had two match points to claim his first world title, only for Lin Dan to break a nations heart with his refusal to be beaten. A nation distraught as China claimed a clean sweep in London as Lin Dan ripped off his top in celebration after his historic victory. It was the defining image of 2011, that the Chinese were still the nation to beat and that Lin Dan will still the man to beat.
As much as the Chinese tactics are questionable on how they get so many players to qualify, there is little doubting they are the nation to beat going into next years Olympics. Malaysia and Lee Chong Wei’s last chance waits in London once more, in the arena that robbed him of a world title 12 months previously.
From the stunning mistake by Lin Dan at 19-19 in the third game, to his net play and smashes that saved the two match points before his precise pushes into Lee Chong Wei’s forehand that forced the errors that led to the match point and the eventual winning point, it was an absolute master class on the greatest stage by both players. They simply are the best two players in the world and the only two men capable of winning gold in London.
Fighting For Gold
Lee Chong Wei was the overall best player of 2011; winning almost every event he entered and claimed his first All England title against Kenichi Tago in March. The last three months have seen him lose to China’s Chen Long no less than three times which is the only real worry for the Malaysian going into 2012. He will undoubtedly play a full schedule going into the Olympics, with the chance of a second All England title looming large.
Lin Dan goes into 2012 in top form, winning his last three events including the Super Series Finals earlier in December. He won the opening Super Series Premier in Korea in January and followed it up with Asian Games gold, an event that Lee Chong Wei did not play. The top two in the world played each other 5 times in ranking events, with Lin Dan winning four of the five meetings with Lin Dan holding a 18-8 advantage in their 26 meetings to date.
Gade’s Last Chance
Peter Gade celebrated his 35th birthday this month but there was little to celebrate on the court for the Dane as he failed to claim a single title in 2011 as Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei proved too strong throughout the year in a recurring theme for Europe’s number 1. In his 12 meetings with the top two players, he won just three games and failed to win a single match.
His record against the top two is 32-4, with his last victory over Lin Dan over 18 months ago and almost three years since his last win over Lee Chong Wei. His chances of a stunning upset and a Danish gold in London look grim whilst in the Super Series events he will be a perennial contender and will reach the latter stages of most of the events he participates in, but his chances of gold in London are slim.
Taufik’s Fall From Grace
The decline of Taufik started in May of this year when his #2 ranking slipped to 3 and then came the double defeat to Marc Zwiebler in the US and Canada Open. The foundation of his ranking came from his Denmark and France Super Series victories in 2010. His defeat in the second round to Viktor Axelsen in Denmark followed by his opening round loss to Wang Zhengming in France ensured Hidayat’s decline out of the top 10 of the world rankings for the first time in recent memory.
He ended the year with a whimper, losing all three games in the Super Series Finals and taking just a single game against Kenichi Tago. He will start 2012 with a world ranking of 12, still inside the qualifcation zone for the Olympics but he is currently the #2 ranked player from Indonesia with Simon Santoso ranked 7 in the world and Tommy Sugiarto a threat to Hidayat’s qualification also, ranked 17th in the world.
The Chinese Threat
The 2009 world champion Chen Jin as well as the new star of Chinese badminton, Chen Long are just the tip of a massive Chinese threat going into any major tournament in 2012. With 5 Chinese players inside the top 16, there is a massive internal battle within the Chinese squad to claim one of a potential three spots in the Olympics, should China manage to get three players inside the top 4 in the world.
Chen Long is clearly the new star of Chinese badminton, the 22-year old begun this year well outside of the top 10 and his stunning loss to Kevin Cordon in the opening round of the world championships could have derailed his promising career. However, he returned to form later in the year with a trio of titles including a Super Series Premier title in China before his milestone victory over Lee Chong Wei in Japan the next week. This became a recurring theme, with another victory over Lee Chong Wei in Denmark and then finally in their most recent matchup in the Super Series Finals. He is the main threat to the top two in the world going into 2012.
Chen Jin claimed just a single title this year, in the Singapore Super Series after a Lin Dan walkover in the final and without Lee Chong Wei even in the draw. His two runner-up medals were defeats to Lin Dan and Chen Long to firmly establish himself as the third force of Chinese badminton now.
Du Pengyu and Wang Zhengming are the two wild cards of Chinese badminton. They have all but been eliminated from being able to qualify for the 2012 games but will be vital in ensuring a massive Chinese presence at the London Olympics. Ranked #10 and #14 in the world will put them in a position of being seeds in some events but potentially facing one of the seeds in the Premier events of 2011, like Wang Zhengming taking on Taufik Hidayat in the French Super Series in October. They will also play a role in ensuring Chinese success at these events, with the Chinese squad allowing walkovers to occur in all-Chinese matchups, meaning more rest for the higher ranked Chinese players in their big events.
The Breakout Stars of 2011
2011 seen the emergence of Sho Sasaki, Lee Hyun Il, Simon Santoso and Marc Zwiebler into the top 16 players in the world. 29-year old Sho Sasaki has been grinding away a career that seen him ranked as low as 40 in June of this year after a string of opening round losses to start 2011. He then reached the semi finals in the Indonesian Super Series Premier and followed that with a win in the US Open in July. An excellent run to the last 8 of the world championships boosted his ranking into the top 10 and finishes the year with his highest ever world ranking of 7. A lot is expected of Sasaki in 2012 with impressive victories over Lin Dan and Du Pengyu in 2011 but has to ensure no opening round upsets that marred his 2011 season.
Lee Hyun Il ended his career after the Beijing Olympics, only to be talked back into playing competitively just 20 months ago. Ranked 196th in May of 2010, he has returned to the world’s top 10 going into 2012, winning his last two events of 2011. A former world number 1 in 2004, his return to the top 10 is nothing short of stunning with victories over Chen Jin, Wang Zhengming , Du Pengyu and Simon Santoso confirming his top 10 status. He will benefit in 2012 with being seeded for most of the early Super Series events of the year to bolster his place in the top 10.
Simon Santoso was touted to overtake Taufik Hidayat as Indonesia’s number 1 in the summer after Hidayat’s poor run in the US and Canada Open. He entered the world championships ranked 19th but his run to the semi finals in China and Macau, that featured a victory over Peter Gade seen Santoso become the top ranked Indonesian player and ensured his place in the top 10 in December. His victory over Hidayat in the China Masters saw the passing of the guard to the 26-year old.
Marc Zwiebler has cemented his place as Europe’s number 2 behind Peter Gade, but his double victory over Taufik Hidayat has pushed him into the spotlight. Ranked as high as 11 earlier in the year, he has levelled out within the 15-17 ranking in the later half of the year following his Canada Open success. Big things are expected of Zwiebler in 2012 as he is set to take on the mantle of Europe’s #1 after the Olympics.
The New Breed
Denmark’s future lies with Viktor Axelsen, the 2010 junior world champion and current European junior champion carefully scheduled his 2011 calender, with a victory in Spain before his greatest moment of his career in the Denmark Open as he defeated Taufik Hidayat in his hometown to reach the last 8 of a Super Series for the first time. He took a game off Peter Gade in his quarterfinal before losing out in three games but that propelled him onto the world stage. He played the Hong Kong and China Masters in the latter half of 2011 and will likely take on a full schedule in 2012 as he looks to improve on his ranking of 36.
Wong Wing Ki’s victory over Lin Dan in Denmark was the 21-year old’s first breakthrough victory of his career and a series of promising results to end 2011 has him just outside the top 20 in the world going into 2012. He has been competitive against the world’s elite throughout the last year with only his standout victory against Lin Dan to show for it, he will hope to have several more impressive wins in 2012.
The European Hopefuls
Pablo Abian, Rajiv Ouseph have been the powerhouses of the EBU circuit, whilst Jan O Jorgensen has been reaching the latter stages of the Super Series towards the end of 2011 after a health scare during the week of the Denmark Open.
Pablo Abian started 2011 just inside the top 50 in the world before taking four titles in the first half of the year, including a victory over Viktor Axelsen in Sweden in January to claim his first title. Opening round defeats in the Denmark and France Open will have to be improved on in 2012 to break into the world’s elite.
Rajiv Ouseph will go to the London Olympics as GB’s only chance of a medal in this event but his success in 2011 has came in Europe, with victories in Ireland and Scotland, choosing to play the European events instead of the Super Series Premier event in China. He goes into 2012 in need of a notable run in a Super Series to boost his confidence ahead of the pressure of performing on home soil after a poor attempt this year in a 21-8, 21-18 defeat to Peter Gade in the opening round of the 2011 world championships.
Jan O Jorgensen is a former top 10 player whose health scare in Denmark forced him into a layoff of 4 weeks that seen him dip to 19 in the rankings. Three quarter final appearances in Super Series events in 2011 will be the very minimum he will need to ensure his place at the Olympics ahead of Viktor Axelsen, as the two battle it out to be Denmark’s number 1 after Gade’s retirement.
However, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus is also a contender in the debate. Ranked outside the top 30 at the start of 2011, the Dane took the Dutch Open title in April to push him into the top 25 and another victory in the Bitburger Open sees him inside the top 20 and finished the year with a close match with Chen Long of China. The performance in the China Open will be one that Vittinghus hopes to emulate throughout 2011 to ensure his name is in the discussion over Denmark’s top men’s singles player.
The Asian Contingent
The rarely spoken about Tien Minh Nguyen has been inside the top 10 in the world for almost two years without any major runs in the Super Series, the Vietnamese player earns his ranking points from the GP Gold series of events but did put have a good run at the world championships, eventually losing out to Peter Gade in three games at the quarter final stage. Defeats to Sho Sasaki and Jan O Jorgensen in the latter part of 2011 still raise question marks over Nguyen’s true ability and significance within the rankings.
Park Sung Hwan’s year was cut short with an injury after the world championships. After surgery on his knee in September there was further complications after it was revealed that the Korean had circulation problems in his shoulder but is expected to return to action in the opening months of 2012. He was ranked inside the top 10 before his lay off due to injury.
Boonsak Ponsana is another player in the Tien Minh Nguyen mould in that he was almost discounted as a threat in the opening half of 2011 when he was ranked 6th in the world, mostly due to ranking points gained through the GP Gold series. His quarter final defeat to Lee Chong Wei is the highlight of a poor year for the Thai player that has seen him crash out of the top 10 but surgery has sidelined Ponsana for most of the second half of 2011, with 2012 seeing the Thai player hopefully return to the court.
The End Of An Era
Regardless of the results in London, Lee Chong Wei and Peter Gade have confirmed their intentions to retire after the Olympics. Lin Dan and Taufik Hidayat likely to follow suit, especially should Lin Dan claim his second Olympic title. Hidayat’s dip in form will likely be a contributing factor especially with his place in London far from guaranteed.
2012 will provide us with the end of an era and the chance to crown a new world number 1 after the Olympics. Whether that is Lee Chong Wei winning gold for Malaysia, Lin Dan retaining his Olympic title or the dream finale to Peter Gade’s stunning career, the countdown has begun. There is no more putting off talking about the likely retirement of these four players, for it is now a matter of months, not years now.
The 2012 season starts in just a few weeks, with the Korean Open Super Series Premier being moved 3 weeks to the first week in January, with the Malaysian Open Super Series the next week to ensure an exciting start to the year. The doubleheader of the Indonesia Premier and Singapore Super Series will be the final event before the run-in to the Olympics in late July.
Then, another 6 week break before the China Masters and the first opportunity to survey the aftermath of the 2012 Olympics. The year ends with the China Open Premier and the Hong Kong Super Series in late November to conclude what is likely to be a historic year of badminton.
The final match of the second day in Hong Kong gave us the first look at the present elite against the future elite as the world number 1 took on the 2010 world junior champion in the last of the second round games in the men’s singles.
Lee Chong Wei Into Last 8
For the opening portion of the match, there was little to separate the two players but Lee Chong Wei eventually progressed safely in two games against Viktor Axelsen, but there will be positives to be taken for the Dane ahead of next week’s China Open. Ajay Jayaram is the Malaysian’s quarter final opponent after the Indian’s victory over Hashim of Malaysia in three games. Lin Dan takes on Shon Wan Ho in his quarter final, with the Korean beating the 8th seeded Marc Zwiebler in his second round match.
Indian qualifier RMV Gurusaidutt has been the story of the bottom half of the draw, he impressed in qualifying and today provided the biggest victory over his career over the 7th seeded Du Pengyu of China. His reward is another Chinese player in the next round, the 2nd seeded Chen Long for a place in the semi finals. The fourth quarter final is a battle of the veterans of the game as Peter Gade takes on Chen Jin for the 11th time. Gade was forced to three games by Yamada in his second round match whilst Chen Jin disposed of Gade’s countryman Jan O Jorgensen in just two games.
Triple Threat From China
Three Chinese and three Japanese players started the last 16, only Ai Goto remains from the Japanese squad whilst all of the Chinese seeds are into the last 8. Ai Goto takes on the top seeded Wang Yihan tomorrow, with her record against the world number 1 far from stellar with just one game won in their four meetings to date. The only match not containing a Chinese player sees the 4th seeded Saina Nehwal take on Tine Baun as they meet for only the 4th time, with the Indian taking their most recent match at the Indonesia Premier event in June.
Bach and Gunawan match into quarterfinals
The 2005 world champions have managed once again to upset the worlds elite and reach the last 8 of a Super Series event. After their three game victory over Kawamae and Sato they have the unenviable task of taking on the world number 1 pairing of Cai and Fu, with the Chinese pair looking to continue their unbeaten run to 7 against the American pair. The two Korean threats of Lee and Jung as well as Ko and Yoo are on a collision course for the semi finals after both pairs won in two games to reach the last 8.
Win number 51 of the year was never in doubt for Wang And Yu, taking their streak of matches without the loss of a game to 8, dating back their semi final victory in Denmark last month. Tian and Zhao amassed their 41st win of the year and look set to meet their Chinese team-mates Wang and Yu in the final for the third straight Super Series event, who have been responsible for 6 of the 8 losses inflicted on Tian and Zhao.
Four of the remaining eight pairs in the mixed doubles are Chinese, with at least Chinese pair guaranteed in the last 4 from the all-Chinese quarter final of Zhang and Zhao against He and Yixin. The possibility of an all-Chinese semi final lies in the hands of Pan and Hong, who take on Chen and Cheng after both pairs progressed to the last 8 in two games. Ko and Eom of Korea take on the on form Danish pair of Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen whilst Valeria Sorokina’s excellent week sees her in both the women’s doubles and mixed doubles quarter finals after defeating seeds in both her second round matches. Sorokina partners Nikolaenko in her quarter final in the mixed doubles against Xu and Ma of China.
Denmark and China will be pleased with the performance of their players, whilst several nations like England and Germany suffered a number of defeats to reduce their chances of a title going into the weekend.
Zwiebler and Schenk Through
Despite all of the poor results for the German squad today, they have two excellent chances of winning the singles titles on home turf. Marc Zwiebler defeated Andre Tedjono in a lengthy two game match and takes on Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus for a place in Sunday’s final. The other semi final sees Wang Zhengming of China take on Eric Pang of Holland, with the 3rd seeded Chinese player impressing in his two game victory over Rajiv Ouseph in his quarter final.
Juliane Schenk progressed to the last 4 with a victory over Petya Nedelcheva in two games and takes on the 4th seeded Li Xuerui, with the German player holding an excellent record against Chinese players this year. Yao Jie defeated Tine Baun in her quarter final match to compound the recent run of poor form for the Dane, the Dutch 7th seed takes on Sayaka Sato in her semi final match after she defeated Linda Zechiri in two games.
China and Denmark Impressive In Doubles
Boe and Mogensen’s walkover allowed them to rest ahead of their semi final against Liu and Qiu of China, seeded 6. The Chinese pair ended the run of Germany’s Kindervater and Schoettler and there was another shock in the bottom half of the draw as Rasmussen and Conrad-Petersen crashed out to the unseeded Thai pairing of Issara and Jongjit in two games. The unseeded Thai’s take on Adcock and Ellis, who were the player or pair to win for England today.
The top two seeds in the women’s doubles progressed safely into the last 4 with a pair of easy victories whilst in the mixed doubles, several seeds crashed out such as Robertson and Wallwork to the unseeded pair of Liu and Cheng. He and Yixin ensure a double involvement in the semi finals day with a tight three game victory to set up a semi final against Laybourn and Rytter Juhl, who defeated the 6th seeded and world silver medalist pairing of Adcock and Bankier in a tight two game victory.
The majority of the field this week has been made up of European players with the occasional top name Asian player playing a third straight week after a run of Super Series in Denmark and France. The day has been about the Asian contingent who are systematically ending the run of some of Europe’s top players.
Wang Zhengming and Marc Zwiebler are the two to beat
Both of the top two seeds who started the week needed three games to reach the last 8, with 2nd seeded Marc Zwiebler coming through against Henri Hurskainen, the 14th seeded Swede. Wang Zhengming also needed three games to defeat the 10th seeded Ville Lang to set up a quarter final against Rajiv Ouseph of England. Hans-Kristian Vittinghus is also into the last 8 and takes on the Malaysian Chan Kwong Beng in the quarter final stage after he defeated Germany’s Lukas Schmidt. Andre Kurniawan Tedjono is the 3rd Asian left in the draw and takes on Marc Zwieber in the quarter finals.
Seeds Reign Supreme
Seven seeds started in the women’s singles, and all seven remain in the draw. Only Bulgaria’s Linda Zechiri breaks up a clean sweep of seeds in the last 8 and takes on Sayaka Sato in the quarter finals after both registered three game victories. Juliane Schenk is the big local hope for a title this week and has been in excellent form on route to the last 8. She takes on the second Bulgarian left in the draw, the 6th seeded Petya Nedelcheva for a place in the semi finals. Li Xuerui and Eriko Hirose is the only match in the top half of the draw and both players are also playing well this week, without the loss of a game between them. Tine Baun takes on Yao Jie to complete the quarter final line up with both players again reaching this point without the loss of a game.
The all-Danish men’s doubles final that is expected took another step in that direction, with the top seeded Boe and Mogensen receiving a walkover in the quarter final over Cwalina and Logosz to reach the last 4. Conrad-Petersen and Rasmussen take on the Thai pairing of Issara and Jongjit. The women’s doubles lost two of it’s four seeds today, with Chin and Wong of Malaysia beating the 3rd seeded Germans Marinello and Michels. The 4th seeds, Van Dooremalen and Jonathans lost out to English pairing of Wallwork and White whilst the top two seeds progressed safely into the last 8.
One of the matches of the day tomorrow will be in the mixed doubles, with 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl taking on the 2011 world silver medalists Adcock and Bankier. Regardless of the result, they will take on an Asian pair in the last 4 with He and Yixin defeating Blair and White in their second round match and Jongjit and Amitapai defeating their Danish opponents to set up the other quarter final in the bottom half of the draw.
The second consecutive week of Super Series action puts the players fitness to the ultimate test as well as allowing the form players from last weeks Denmark Open a chance to continue to maintain their run of good results.
Taufik’s final chance to perform
This is a massive week for Taufik Hidayat, defending his title as well as the ranking points that goes with it. His defeat to Viktor Axelsen in the second round only compounded the pressure to perform this week and his campaign starts with one of the toughest draws imaginable against Wang Zhengming of China. A first round defeat almost guarantees his fall out of the seedings for the remaining Super Series events for the reminder of 2011.
Lee Chong Wei will went to put the final in Odense on Sunday behind him as he takes on Marc Zwiebler of Germany in a potentially tricky opening round match this week. Lin Dan’s opener against Lee Hyun Il is another tricky match for the seeded players this week. Chen Long starts this week as a real favourite to make it two weeks in a row with his team-mate Lin Dan out of form and his double victory over Lee Chong Wei recently, he starts with a match against Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand. Peter Gade is another seed with a tough test in his opening round, taking on last week’s semi finalist Sho Sasaki.
Chinese battle for #1
Wang Xin’s victory over Wang Yihan has reopened the question over who is China’s number 1 player, with 6 players capable of winning their event from within the Chinese squad alone. Wang Yihan starts with an opening round walkover with Susan Egelstaff withdrawing with injury whilst 2nd seeded Wang Shixian takes on Sung Ji Hyun of Korea before a potential second round match against world championship silver medalist Cheng Shao Chieh.
Wang Xin, Jiang Yanjiao, Liu Xin and Li Xuerui are the other four Chinese players capable of winning this week. The three non-Chinese seeds will hope for better weeks than last week in Odense where they all crashed out early. 4th seeded Saina Nehwal starts with a tough match against Yao Jie and then a potential second round match against Li Xuerui. Juliane Schenk starts her campaign against Canadian qualifier Michelle Li before the winner takes on another qualifier in the second round. 8th seeded Tine Baun will hope that without the pressure of a home crowd that it will be a more successful week in Paris, she starts this week with a match against Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei
Chinese take top seeds in doubles
The three top seeds in the doubles are the current world champions, but only one pair come into this week with a victory in Odense. Cai and Fu will hope to go one better than their defeat in the final against Lee and Jung, with both pairs seeded to meet in the final once against this week. Cai and Fu start against Cho and Kwon of Korea whilst Lee and Jung start against the Malaysian pair of Gan and Tan. Boe and Mogensen will hope to continue their form from last week into this week as they start their campaign in Paris with a tough opener against Chandra and Gunawan of Indonesia.
Wang and Yu will go into this event as clear favourites once again in the women’s doubles and they look to claim another title in a stunning year for the world number 1 pairing. They start this week against the Malaysian pair of Chin and Wong whilst their main rivals this week will be their team mates Tian and Zhao, the only pair in the draw to inflict a defeat upon Wang and Yu. the 2nd seeds start with a match against the Japanese pairing of Matsutomo and Takahashi with a potential meeting against Cheng and Pan in the second round.
Zhang and Zhao will want to go one better than last week when they lost to Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen in Odense at the semi final stage, they start this week against Lee and Chien of Chinese Taipei. The 2nd seeded pair of Ma and Xu have similar aspirations after they lost to the Danish pair in the final, they take on the dangerous Japanese pair of Hashimoto and Fujii with a potential second round match against world silver medalists Adcock and Bankier waiting should they beat their first round qualifiers. Last week’s winners start against the Singapore pairing of Triyachart and Yao whilst their team mates Laybourn and Rytter Juhl start against Widianto and Marissa in the pick on the opening round matches in Paris on Wednesday.
The landscape of the men’s singles has potentially changed overnight with the 17-year old Viktor Axelsen defeating the 5th seeded Taufik Hidayat that almost ensures his decline out of the world’s top 10 and rewards the Danish fans as well as the badminton world with a stunning quarter final match between Viktor Axelsen against Peter Gade, in Denmark.
Taufik and Lin Dan Out
The headlines will be stolen by Viktor Axelsen, who defeated the 5th seeded Hidayat in a pulsating three game match that the 17-year dominated in the last two games to reach his first Denmark Open quarter final and a dream matchup against Peter Gade. The duo practiced together earlier this week but few expected the two to meet in the last 8. Gade defeated Germany’s Marc Zwiebler in two games in the evening session to book his place in the quarter finals.
The bottom half of the draw has been decimated with all but one seed remaining. Wong Wing Ki caused his own stunning upset with his three game victory over the world champion Lin Dan and there was also disppointment for Du Pengyu as he lost out to Jan O Jorgensen in three games, taking the tally of Danes in the quarter final to 3.
Baun and Schenk Crash Out
European interest in the women’s singles has ended before the weekend, much to the disappointment of the home fans as Tine Baun lost in a tame two game defeat to Inthanon Ratchanok. Juliane Schenk was beaten bu Sung Ji Hyun in two games also as the Chinese threat to claim the title looms large with 5 players in the last 8.
Saina Nehwal was the only other main rival capable of causing an upset but she also crashed out early on day 2, losing to Tai Tzu Ying in two games also. The Chinese juggernaut continues on with straight forward wins for Wang Xin and Wang Shixian but top seeded Wang Yihan fought back from a game down to reach the last 8 where she will face compatriot Jiang Yanjiao.
Danish Hope In Doubles
Denmark still has interest in the three doubles events to ease the disappointment of an absence of players in the women’s singles. 3rd seeded Boe and Mogensen have regained some form and have been emphatic in their route to the last 8 with a pair of excellent wins to set up a quarter final against Cho and Kwon of Korea, who defeated Koo and Tan earlier in the week. The top two seeds in the men’s doubles have both reached the quarter finals, with Lee and Jung being taken to three games by the Danish pairing of Conrad-Petersen and Rasmussen.
Kruse and Roepke fly the flag for Denmark in the women’s doubles alone after Pedersen and Rytter Juhl’s loss to their team-mates opponents in the quarter final, Japanese pair Misaki and Takahashi. The two Chinese pairs look to be a class apart this week, with both being highly impressive in the matches this week and never looking like losing a game to this point.
A double helping in the mixed doubles will also please the hometown fans, with Laybourn and Rytter Juhl turning back the clock to their 2009 world championship success to reach the last 8 this week. They take on one half of the 2010 world champions in Ma Jin, partnered by Xu Chen who defeated Kolding and Houmann in the second round today. Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen have lived up to their billing as the number 3 seeds with two excellent wins to date, their opponents in the quarter final will be the Indian pair of Valiyaveetil and Gutta who defeated the world silver medalists Adcock and Bankier in their second round game.
The old and new guard of Danish badminton had a dream start to the first round matches in Odense, taking out seeded partnerships and impressing on a day of positives for Danish and European badminton.
Gade, Axelsen and Jorgensen Progress
A trio of Danes have all reached the last 16 safely, with Peter Gade impressively defeated Wang Zhengming in a one-sided match to book a second round clash against Germany’s Marc Zwiebler. Hans-Kristian Vittinghus has very close to making it four from four in the opening round by narrowly lost to the 5th seeded Taufik Hidayat in three games. Viktor Axelsen claimed his third victory over Przemyslaw Wacha in the opening round today to set up a match against Hidayat in the second round.
Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan both came through their opening round matches without much resistance, whilst China claim four places in the last 16 with victories for Chen Long, Chen Jin and Du Pengyu, with the 8th seed taking on Jan O Jorgensen who won his opening round match in two games to set up the second round match.
Two Europeans Remain
The depth of European players in the women’s singles has been exposed this week, with just two making it through to the last 16 with a predominantly Asian feel to the draw. Tine Baun and Juliane Schenk hold the hope of Europe on their shoulders as both progressed into the second round with a pair of excellent victories. The Chinese juggernaut has six of the last 16, with an all-Chinese match in the second round set to decrease their quota to at least four.
Wang Yihan’s opening round match was as impressive as it was one-sided, her 21-13, 21-5 victory over the world number 10 Bae Youn Joo was a statement that the world number 1 is back to her best. There were wins Jiang Yanjiao, Li Xuerui, Liu Xin, Wang Xin and Wang Shixian to ensure a vast Chinese interest in the event going in the second round.
Seeds Topple In Doubles
If the singles events were business as usual for the world’s best, the doubles disciplines have been the complete opposite. The men’s doubles lost three seeds in the opening round with the biggest casualty being the Commonwealth champions and 5th seeded Koo and Tan, who were defeated by Cho and Kwon of Korea. There were victories for Cai and Fu as well as the second seeded Lee and Jung, who both claimed a berth in the second round with a routine two game victory.
There was Danish success in the women’s doubles, with Pedersen and Rytter Juhl defeating the 4th seeded Japanese pair of Maeda and Suetsuna in two tight games to reach the last 16. Kruse and Roepke ensured a second pair in the last 16 with a victory over Korea’s Eom and Jang. The Danes reward is another Korean pair in Jung and Kim who put out the 7th seeded Matsuo and Naito in the opening round.
There were no such shocks for the top seeded Wang and Yu, who progressed in a straightforward two game victory over Poon and Tse and take on the Singapore pair of Sari and Yao in the last 16. Tian and Zhao were equally impressive in their opening round match and take on the Indonesian pair of Marissa and Melati in their second round match.
Kamilla Rytter Juhl was the star of the day for the locals as she defeated another seed in the mixed doubles with partner Thomas Laybourn as the 2009 world champions rolled back the years as they defeated Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam in two games to reach the second round. Lee and Ha also produced a shock with a three game victory over the second seeded Ahmad and Natsir, who were the biggest casualties of the first day in Odense. The world champions Zhang and Zhao had no problem in reaching the second round with a two game victory over Triyachart and Yao of Singapore, whilst the world championship silver medalists Adcock and Bankier won their all-British first round match to reach the last 16.
The next event on the Super Series calendar is underway, and the online live stream should be up shortly. Here are the live streams:
Semi Finals Session 2