After Lee Chong Wei’s 24th and 25th Super Series titles in Korea and Malaysia, the world number 1 is the undoubted front-runner for the Olympic title. Compounded with his victory over Lin Dan in Seoul, followed by a defeat by the Olympic champion to Jan O Jorgensen in Malaysia this week. The first two Super Series titles have given us plenty of questions as well as definitive answers.
Lee Chong Wei is #1
His victory over Lin Dan re-asserted his place at the top of the world game whilst his win over Kenichi Tago showed just how far the gap is between himself at most of the field in Malaysia. There was an arrogance and a knowledge that he was the best player in the world in the Malaysian final whilst at the same time Kenichi Tago knew that he was never going to beat the Malaysian before eventually losing for the 11th time to Lee Chong Wei.
Lin Dan needs to improve
A stunning statement to make, but Lin Dan is the favourite for every event that he plays, regardless of his seeding. His defeat to Lee Chong Wei could be put down to lack of match practice or testing out new tactics ahead of the Olympics. His defeat to Jan O Jorgensen is much less forgivable, as well as dropping games in four of his five matches in Korea the week previously.
Chen Long is a legitimate #3 in the world
With the conspiracy theory that China is trying to create a false ranking for some players, Chen Long is a genuine threat in every tournament now. His retirement in Korea seemed to be an actual injury before returning to action and giving Lee Chong Wei a scare in the semi finals in Malaysia. He is perhaps a bigger threat than Lin Dan is at these events and his attendance at the final in Malaysia with no other Chinese presence with him was a telling sign in his commitment to succeed in the coming months and years. He seems to be a student of the game rather that a player engineered to win.
Gade’s schedule will be his downfall
Two early defeats in Korea and Malaysia is a unwanted parallel to Taufik’s demise in Denmark and France last year. He claimed to be fatigued after a busy schedule of the past 4 months but this is his own doing. He claimed that the Olympics would be his final tournament and has attempted to play almost every tournament since the world championships. Should he play the European Team championships in February, it would also definitely hinder his chances at the All-England Champions in early March. Gade needs to have a 6-week lay off before his final push for Olympic success.
Hidayat still competitive
His victory in India before the turn of the year propped him back into the top 10, then a victory over Tien Minh Nguyen saw him reach the last 8 of a Super Series for the first time in recent memory. A 6-week break ahead of the All-England could be just as important to Hidayat as it is to Gade.
Jorgensen’s stock is on the rise
With all the talk of Viktor Axelsen, it has perhaps motivated Jan O Jorgensen more in the past 2 weeks. After seeing his teenage team-mate lose in the opening round in both events, Jorgensen reached the semi finals in Korea and the quarter finals in Malaysia, defeating Lin Dan in the second round. Expect Jorgensen to play most of the European Team Championships as Denmark’s #1, a position that might be his on merit soon enough.
Tago needs to build on his success
After defeating Peter Gade in the second round in Malaysia, the 22-year old defeated Simon Santoso in the quarterfinals and eventually reached the final in Malaysia, before being outclassed by Lee Chong Wei in the final. His performance against Lee Chong Wei in Korea is one that he has to study, taking the Malaysia to two tight games with just a few more points needed to break the 11-match losing run he has against the world number 1.
All-England Premier – March 6-11
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Lee Chong Wei claimed his 8th Malaysian Open in a demonstration of his ability against Kenichi Tago in the one of the most one-sided of their 11 meetings to date.
Lee Chong Wei Too Good
The highly anticipated final between Tago and Lee Chong Wei never materialized as a true contest, with too many errors from the Japanese player in the opening game. The first match was done in just 13 minutes, with the world number 1 taking the opening game 21-6. After a small delay in the second game, the Malaysian continued his masterclass and eventually took the second game 21-13h to clinch his second Super Series title of 2012 and his 25th of his career.
Top Chinese Seeds Win
It was the first against the second seeds in the all-Chinese finals, with a gulf in class clearly evident in the mixed doubles final as Zhang and Zhao got back to winning ways against their team mates Xu and Ma in a one-sided final, winning 21-12, 21-9 in just 27 minutes. Wang Yihan defeated Wang Xin in the women’s singles final, after a tight opening game the world number 1 was much more comfortable in the second game. Her 21-19, 21-11 victory is a clear sign that she is the top player in the world, not just in China.
Danish Delight In Doubles
Fang and Lee claiming the men’s doubles title against Cho and Shin, with the world number 13′s claiming their first Super Series title after dropping the opening game only to bounce back and claim the next two games. Rytter Juhl and Pedersen claimed Europe’s only title in the women’s doubles final after defeating the Korean pair of Ha and Kim in two games as the 2nd seed lost in the final of this event for the second week running.
A nation expects on finals day as Lee Chong Wei looks to claim his second title of 2012 on home soil after a three-game, 76-minute victory over Chen Long in the final match on semi finals days.
Tago Into Final
Keinchi Tago’s semi final with Chen Jin lasted just 5 points before the Chinese 5th seeded pulled out of the match, allowing the Japanese player a free pass into tomorrow’s final. It will be Tago’s 11th meeting with Lee Chong Wei, having lost the previous 10 and claiming just two games from those matches. Lee Chong Wei will hope to claim his final title on home soil tomorrow, with a nation expecting victory.
Two All-Chinese Finals
Without the big names in the doubles, the Chinese squad have still managed to claim a pair of all-Chinese matches. The first is in the women’s singles where Wang Yihan takes on Wang Xin for the title, with the world number one having a 7-2 advantage in their head to heads to date. The other final comes in the mixed doubles, as the top two pairs in the world battle it out for the 9th time, with the current world champions holding a 6-2 advantage.
The men’s doubles has for the first time in recent history no seeds in the final, with Cho and Shin of Korea taking on Fang and Lee of Chinese Taipei. Cho and Shin defeated Chai and Guo in their semi final whilst Fang and Lee took out Hashimoto and Hirata in their semi final to set up this unlikely final.
Rytter Juhl and Pedersen are the sole European hope on finals day, after defeating Zhong and Yixin to set up a final against the second seeded Ha and Kim of Korea. The 2nd seeds defeating Matsuo and Naito in their semi final to set up the 4th encounter between these two paits, with the Korean’s holding a 3-0 advantage to date.
It was 18th and potentially last encounter between two of the greatest players of the last 15 years, as Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat took on Lee Chong Wei on his home soil in Malaysia.
Tago Takes Out Another Seed
Kenichi Tago’s victory over Simon Santoso was his second seeded scalp this week, after taking out Gade in the second round. The unseeded Japanese player defeated the 7th seeded Santoso in a one-sided match, winning 21-15, 21-9 to set up a semi final against Chen Jin of China. The 5th seed defeated Jan O Jorgensen in his quarter final in a three game match to ensure his place in the last 4.
Lee Chong Wei defeated Taufik Hidayat in two games to claim his 12th victory in their 18 matchups to reach the last 4 to set up his 10th encounter with China’s Chen Long, who has taken 3 of the last 4 matches against the world number 1. Chen Long defeated Sho Sasaki in three games to reach the last 4 and set up his semi final with Lee Chong Wei.
Top 4 Into Semis
The top 4 seeds in the women’s singles are all present at the semi final stage this week, with Saina Nehwal breaking the Chinese monopoly on the semi final places. Wang Yihan takes on Saina Nehwal in the first of the semi finals, with the world number 1 not dropping a game to date whilst Nehwal was taken to a third game for the second time this week by Tine Baun in her quarter final. Wang Xin takes on Wang Shixian in the other semi final with their head to head evenly matched at 5-5 going into tomorrow’s semi final.
One European Hope Remains
The doubles events have been dominated by the Asian’s this week, with just a single European pairing left in either of the three events. Only two seeds remain in the men’s doubles as Chai and Guo take on the unseeded Korean pair of Cho and Shin for a place in Sunday’s final, whilst the other semi finals sees the 6th seeded Hashimoto and Hirata take on the unseeded Chinese Taipei pair of Fang and Lee, who defeated their second Chinese pairing of Hong and Shen to reach the semi finals.
Pedersen and Rytter Juhl are the only European hope left in any draw, their victory over the top seeded Japanese pairing of Fujii and Kakiiwa sets up a semi final against Zhong and Yixin of China who benefitted from a retirement from Woo and Hong halfway through the second game of their quarter final. The other semi final sees the 2nd seeded Ha and Kim take on the 4th seeded Matsuo and Naito of Japan.
Lee Yong Dae’s run ends at the quarter final stage, as he and partner Ha Jung Eun lost to the 2nd seeded Xu and Ma of China in two games. The Chinese pairing take on the 4th seeded Ahmad and Natsir in the semi finals after the Indonesian’s defeated the Thai pairing of Jongjit and Amitapai to reach the last 4. Chan and Goh saved four match points before their eventual progression to the last 4 to ensure some Malaysian interest in the semi finals. Their opponents in the semi final are the top seeded Zhang and Zhao of China who defeated the on-form pairing of Nikolaenko and Soronkina in their quarter final match.
Quarter Final Results
Gade’s defeat to Kenichi Tago was a massive blow to the Danish squad but the heroics of Jan O Jorgensen in his three game victory over the World and Olympic champion Lin Dan stole the headlines on day 2.
Lee Chong Wei Takes On Taufik
The doubters over Taufik’s desire to continue to perform at the highest level have lessened of the past month, with a victory in India and his run this week to the last 8 after this victory over Tien Minh Nguyen. His opponent in the last 8 is the world number 1 Lee Chong Wei who defeat Kazushi Yamada in two games to reach the quarter finals.
The doubters have now focussed on Peter Gade. Two early exits in Korea and this week in Malaysia to Kenichi Tago have put question marks over Gade’s chances at the London Olympics. Jan O Jorgensen could well be a legitimate contender to take over the Danish number 1 spot ahead of the summer after a stunning three game victory over Lin Dan in one of the last matches of the day.
5 From 8 For The Chinese
Only Tine Baun stopped a full compliment of Chinese players entering the quarter finals, with the Dane defeating Liu Xin in two games to set up the only quarter final without Chinese interest against Saina Nehwal of India. Juliane Schenk doubles the European involvement in the latter stages, but takes on the 3rd seed Wang Shixian in her quarter final matchup. Two all-Chinese matchups make up the remaining quarter finals, with top seeded Wang Yihan taking on Li Xuerui in the first of the quarter finals whilst Wang Xin takes on Jiang Yanjiao in the more competitive of the two matches.
Seeds Topple Throughout The Doubles
Just two rounds in and the draws for all three doubles events have been decimated. Just three seeds remain in the men’s doubles, headlined by the 3rd seeded Chai and Guo who take on Kido and Setiawan to be the last remaining seed left in the top half of the draw. Hashimoto and Hirata are the last seeds left in the bottom half of the draw and they take on Kim and Kim of Korea in their quarter final match, with the Korean’s taking out the 4th seeded Koo and Tan to ensure their place in the last 8.
The women’s doubles is often the event where 8 seeds will make up the last 8 but not this week. Just five seeds remain with top seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa taking on the 7th seeded Rytter Juhl and Pedersen in the last 8. Hoo and Woon take on Zhong and Yixin in the only quarter final without a seed taking part and the only Chinese pair left in the draw. 2nd seeded Ha and Kim take on the final unseeded pair left in the draw, taking on Chin and Wong of Malaysia in their quarter final match.
Just three seeds remain in the mixed doubles also, with the Russian pair of Nikolaenko and Sorokina continuing their excellent form to start the year. Their reward for defeating the 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl is a quarter final against the current world champions, Zhang and Zhao of China. Xu and Ma take on Lee and Ha of Korea in the bottom half of the draw in a rematch of the Korean Open final, a match that the Chinese pair won in three games.
Lee Chong Wei’s final Super Series event in his home nation started with an all-Malaysian encounter with Daren Liew, wrapped up in just over a half hour to give his fanatical home support a brief glimpse of what he is capable of this week.
Every Seed Through
The week has started completely differently to Seoul just 7 days ago, every seed has progressed as well as Taufik Hidayat, who has propped himself back into the top 10 in the world with a win in India over the Christmas period. Jan O Jorgensen’s reward for his three game battle with Du Pengyu is a even bigger Chinese threat, world number 2 Lin Dan. The 2nd seed defeat Viktor Axelsen in two games to set up his second round match, with the Danish teenager getting a lot more experience at Super Series level with the pending retirement of Peter Gade. Gade progressed in two tight games over Wong Wing Ki to set up a second round match against Kenichi Tago. Taufik Hidayat defeated Chou Tien Chen in two games to book his place in the last 16 against Tien Minh Nguyen of Vietnam, seeded 7.
6 Through To Last 16
The all-conquering Chinese squad are here in numbers in the women’s singles, with the prospect of 6 players in the last 8 looming tomorrow. Top seeded Wang Yihan takes on Bae Youn Joo of Korea, a quarter finalist in Korea last week. 2nd seeded Wang Xin takes on Eriko Hirose of Japan in her second round match, with a likely quarter final match with Jiang Yanjiao should the 6th seeded defeat Pi Hongyan of France. The European threat as always comes from Tine Baun and Juliane Schenk, with both players progressing to the second round, with Baun having the toughest draw facing Liu Xin of China in her second round match.
Shocks and Withdrawals Open Door For New Winners
The men’s doubles is without the top two in the world this week, leaving Ko and Yoo as the clear favourites this week. Their run lasted just a single round as they were shocked in the 1st round by Endo and Hayakawa of Japan. The draw is wide open with the 3rd seed Chai and Guo being the top seeds left in the draw but needing three games to beat Ellis and Mills of England in their opening round matches. There were wins for the 4th seeded Koo and Tan as well as the 5th seeded Ahsan and Septano to ensure some seeds remained in the draw.
Without the top two Chinese pairs in the women’s doubles, the draw is an absolute lottery as there will be a non-Chinese winner of this event for the first time in almost a year. Fujii and Kakiiwa are the top seeds this week and started off strongly with a three game victory over the Chinese pair of Huan and Tang. Finalists last week, Ha and Kim are the second seeds this week and they also started strong with a two game victory over Wallwork and White of England. The biggest casualty of the opening round was the 3rd seeded Maeda and Suetsuna who crashed out to Malaysia’s Woon and Hoo in three games.
The mixed doubles has a full compliment of Chinese pairs, with four in the last 16. Zhao and Zhang are safely into round 2 with a two game victory over Lee and Chien whilst the bottom half sees an all-Chinese second round clash between Ma and Xu playing He and Yixin after both pairs won in two games. The Russian pair of Nikolaenko and Sorokina continue their excellent run of form, disposing of the 6th seeded Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam to reach the second round where they will take on the 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl.