9 Days, 5 Chinese Golds and 8 disqualified athletes as the wait for another Olympics begins once more. The Great British dream turned into a nightmare inside the opening two hours of play whilst a legend was born in the final two hours of play.
Lin Dan successfully defended his Olympic crown with a performance that to an extent, surpasses his victory in Beijing four years previously. There was no partisan crown in Wembley Arena and there was an equal on the court in Lee Chong Wei. It is to date, the greatest Olympic match ever.
Li Xuerui was a relative unknown inside this arena 12 months ago, as she watched on as the world championships took place. Now she leaves London as Olympic champion as the Chinese justified her inclusion ahead of Wang Shixian. What Li Xuerui brings is a trait that is rarely seen in Chinese players, an absolute desire to win that surpasses her talents and ability.
Cai and Fu achieved the final piece of their careers with an Olympic gold, the only title that the Chinese pair had never won. They lost in the final in Beijing four years ago and had to wait until now to redeem themselves, which they did in spectacular fashion as they won gold without the loss of a game.
Indian badminton will consider this a triumph for what they have achieved, with Kashyup Parupalli’s run to the quarterfinals and with Saina Nehwal’s bronze medal. With high hopes going into the 2013 World Championship in Guangzhou as well as the remainder of the 2012 season.
Alex Bruce and Michelle Li were the story of the women’s doubles in the aftermath of the group phase scandal. Their semi-final match was a testament to what the Olympics set out to achieve – despite their defeat to Fujii and Kakiiwa, they had inspired a generation.
Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier came into the Olympics with medal expectations, those expectations were tempered after an opening match defeat and before several of the world’s best singles players had set foot on court, their dream was over. Their success in 2011 was partly due to the lack of expectation and the surprise of their unlikely run to the World Championship final, there was nothing like that in 2012. A nation expected.
Lee Chong Wei came within two points of an Olympic title, only for Lin Dan to snatch glory from the Malaysian’s grasp for the second year running. It is perhaps not has heartbreaking as his defeat in 2011, where he did have a match point in the final but his reaction after his final shot was one of total dejection. Comforted by his coaches as he was forced to watch Lin Dan celebrate in his defeat. Only one final chance in Guangzhou waits for the Malaysian to claim a major title.
Lee Yong Dae and Chung Jae Sung were touted as the favourites for the men’s doubles titles going into the Olympics. Lee Yong Dae’s mixed doubles campaign lasted a mere three games but in the men’s doubles, the Korean pair breezed into the semi finals only to be outdone by the brilliance of an inspired Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen. They ended up with the bronze medal, with the Olympics being Chung Jae Sung’s final event as Lee Yong Dae will have a new partner after this week.
Indonesia will leave London without an Olympic medal, with the failures of Taufik Hidayat, Simon Santoso and the mixed doubles pairing of Ahmad and Natsir failing to secure a bronze medal against Fischer and Pedersen.
Peter Gade’s Olympic career came to an end at the quarterfinal stage, with Chen Long defeating the Dane in two games in a match that Gade claims he played some of his best badminton in recent memory. Just three events remain in the legendary career of Peter Gade – Japan, France and a final farewell in Denmark.
The Disgraced Eight
The criticism that has been widespread is not that they opted to lose the matches, but the manner in how they chose to do it. The distain and arrogance on show to blatantly throw the matches with serving into the net and not allowing a rally of more than four points has questioned the professionalism of every badminton player, not just the eight players expelled.
The feeling from within badminton is that given the opportunity to do it once again, all of the pairs would have no problem doing it again. The counterargument is that they are ultimately playing for an Olympic gold medal, which is four years of work and that after putting in so much effort to reach the Olympics – the possibility of making the job easier in one that should be taken.
The Chinese squad, wanted gold and silver from the women’s doubles which was indeed achievable. The Korean and Indonesian pairs merely wanted to avoid the Chinese pairs in the later stages. This all stemmed from a match earlier in the day between Pedersen and Rytter Juhl, who defeated Tian and Zhao in their group. Little did they know that the effect of that victory would eliminate four of their biggest rivals in the next 24 hours as well.
Yu Yang has allegedly retired, walking away from the game that she adores. Wang Xiaoli has promised to regain people’s trust in her and in the middle of it Li Yongbo takes sole responsibility for the actions of his players. It has been a problem throughout the Olympic qualification process, with phantom injuries leading to walkovers.
What the BWF have done with this landmark decision is opened the door for more walkovers instead of these farcical matches but also forced sporting integrity to be upheld. There will undoubtedly be a change to the format of the competition in Rio come 2016, but there will be little change in the nations that dominate the sport as China claimed all five gold medals in London.
The day begun with Cai and Fu reaching the men’s doubles Olympic final and ended with a pair of gold medals for China with the injury of Wang Xin the only low point in a day riddled with success for the Chinese.
Gold For Li Xuerui
The form player in 2012 justified her selection for the Olympics ahead of Wang Shixian and won China’s second gold in two days. It was talent over willpower in the women’s singles match, with Wang Yihan’s talent failing to defeat Li Xuerui’s will to win in a three-game classic. Saina Nehwal claimed the bronze medal, but not in the way the Indian would have hoped as Wang Xin retired at the beginning of the second game after claiming the opening game. A knee-injury hindered Wang Xin’s movement before she crumbled on court after the opening point in the second game that forced her into retirement and gave Nehwal the bronze medal.
Tian and Zhao Claims Women’s Doubles Gold
There was a Chinese winner in the women’s doubles, but not the pair that many expected. With the group stage farce decimating the draw, it was the 2nd seeded Tian and Zhao who claimed gold – with Zhao Yunlei winning her second gold of the Olympics after her mixed doubles success. An easy first game victory for the Chinese required a response from the Japanese pairing of Fujii and Kakiiwa to ensure there wasn’t a Chinese rout. A tighter second game ensued, but the Chinese eventually took the second game 25-23 to ensure China’s third gold. Sorokina and Vislova took the bronze medal, after a one-sided victory over the Canadian pair of Bruce and Li.
Boe and Mogensen stun Lee and Chung
The “dream final” in the men’s doubles was put on hold for at least four years by the Danish pair of Boe and Mogensen who defeated Lee and Chung in a sensation men’s doubles semi final which will be a contender for match of the tournament. The Korean pair took an early lead, claiming the first game only for the Danes to respond and take the second game. After squandering a match point, Boe and Mogensen earned a second match point and a Mogensen lift was left by Lee Yong Dae, only for the shuttle to hit the lead and send the Danes into tomorrow’s final. Cai and Fu will be their opponents tomorrow, after the Chinese pair defeated Koo and Tan in a one-sided semi final that the Chinese pair took with their third match point to ensure their second successive Olympic final.
Day 8 Results:
The European dream of gold in London has faded with every passing day, but today was the end of any chances in the singles with the defeats of Tine Baun and Peter Gade.
Chen Long ended Peter Gade’s Olympic career with a classy two game victory over the Dane, who claimed after the match that he played some of his best badminton of the year in is defeat. Chen Long’s reward is a semi-final against the world number 1 Lee Chong Wei, who ended Kashyup Parupalli’s fairytale run at the Olympics in two games to ensure a medal for at least one of the two semi finalists.
Lin Dan secured his place in the semi final with a three game victory over Sho Sasaki, but any hopes of an all-Chinese semi final were derailed by Lee Hyun Il who ended Chen Jin’s campaign in a tight two game victory to book his place in the last 4.
The four best players in the world have all reached the semi final stage, with only the second seeded Wang Xin dropping a game in today’s matches. Wang Xin needed three games to end the run of the 17-year old Inthanon Ratchanok, who looks to be a star for the future for her native Thailand. Li Xuerui will take on Wang Xin in the semi finals after the 3rd seed defeated Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong to reach the last 4.
Wang Yihan has a repeat performance in Wembley Arena against Cheng Shao Chieh in her semi final, with the Chinese top seed securing a straight forward two game victory to reach the semi finals. Saina Nehwal takes on the top seeded Chinese player in the last 4 after ending Tine Baun’s run at the quarter final stage, with the Dane celebrating a line call that would have won her the second game prematurely which resulted in Saina Nehwal saving multiple game points before winning the match on her first match point.
The top three pairs in the world all secured their place in the last 4, where they are also joined by the Commonwealth champions Koo and Tan of Malaysia. The unseeded Koo and Tan take on Cai and Fu in the first of the semi finals, with both pairs successfully negotiating their way into the last 4 with tight two game victories. Lee and Chung take on Boe and Mogensen in the second semi final, with both pairs also coming through their matches in two games to set up their 17th meeting against one another.
The impossible and improbable dream of Alex Bruce and Michelle Li almost became a reality, as they took Fujii and Kakiiwa to three games and booked their place in the bronze medal playoff. The Japanese pair will take on the world number 2 pairing of Tian and Zhao in Saturday’s gold medal match after the Chinese pair disposed of Vislova and Sorokina in a one-sided match.
The first medals will be won in tomorrow’s afternoon session as the two best pairs in the world face off in an all-Chinese gold medal match. Both pairs needed three games to defeat their opponents, with Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen taking on Ahmad and Natsir in the bronze medal match in the morning session. Xu and Ma will take on Zhang and Zhao in a rematch of the world championship semi final held in this arena a year ago. It will be their 11th meeting, with the defending world champions Zhang and Zhao winning 8 of their 10 meetings to date.
There were 4 eliminations before play even begun today, with the disqualification of all four pairs in the women’s doubles accused of match fixing. That allowed the 3rd and 4th placed pairs from Group A and C into the quarter finals at their expense.
An inspired Lee Chong Wei answered all of his critics in his second round masterclass against Simon Santoso, with the top seeded Malaysian comfortably booking his place in the last 8 with a two game victory. Kashyup Parupalli awaits the top seed in the quarter finals, with the Indian defeating Sri Lanka’s Niluka Karunaratne in three games to offer India a second hope of a medal in the singles events.
The last 16 saw exits for Jan O Jorgensen, Marc Zwiebler, Kevin Cordon and most noticably Taufik Hidayat who was defeated by Lin Dan in his final Olympic appearance of the Indonesian’s career. Chen Long and Chen Jin ensured a trio of Chinese players in the last 8, with the 3rd seeded Chen Long taking on Peter Gade in the quarter finals in what could be Gade’s final appearance at the Olympics also.
The biggest casualty of the last 16 was Germany’s Juliane Schenk, with Inthanon Ratchanok ending the run of the 6th seed at the second round in a two game victory for the 9th seeded Thai. Yip Pui Yin defeated Pi Honygan to further reduce any chance of European success, the unseeded player from Hong Kong takes on the 3rd seeded Li Xuerui in the quarter finals.
Wang Yihan faught back from a game down to ensure her place in the last 8 at the expense of Bae Youn Joo and set up a world championship rematch from last year against Cheng Shao Chieh. Tine Baun became the final European player left in the draw after Sayaka Sato retired from their match whilst leading 15-14 but the Danes task in the quarter final will be much harder as Baun takes on Saina Nehwal in the last 8. The Indian 4th seed defeated Yao Jie of Holland to reach the quarter finals and set up a matchup against Baun.
Without winning a game in Group A, Michelle Li and Alex Bruce are into the semi finals of the women’s doubles after a two game victory over Australia’s Veeran and Choo to set up their match against Fujii and Kakiiwa of Japan. The 4th seeded Japanese pair ended the run of Denmark’s Rytter Juhl and Pedersen in two games to set up their semi final against the Canadians.
The other semi final features Vislova and Sorokina, who came third in Group A but defeated Viljoen and Edwards to reach the last 4 and take on the 2nd seeded Tian and Zhao of China, who defeated Cheng and Chien of Chinese Taipei in two games.
The four seeded pairs remain in the mixed doubles, with Xu and Ma coming closest to elimination after surviving a match point in order to defeat Mateusiak and Zieba of Poland. Their reward for victory is a semi final match against Ahmad and Natsir, who defeated Fuchs and Michels in two games to book safe passage into the last 4.
Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen are the sole European hope, after their victory over Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam of Thailand but will take on the current world champions Zhang and Zhao who ended the campaign of the 2009 world champions and Danish team mates Laybourn and Rytter Juhl.
The London Olympics are just days away, the realisation that four years have passed since Lin Dan’s masterclass in Beijing and that five champions will be crowned – before it all ends for another four years come August 5.
All the favourites are present this year, Lee Chong Wei has recovered from his ankle injury but to what extent remains unclear. His first match will be against Finland’s Ville Lang, a EBU tour veteran whose physical approach to the game will be a intriguing test for the Malaysian and his ankle. Lin Dan takes on Scott Evans, with the Irishman making it into the Olympics from second reserve to be the first hurdle in Lin Dan’s defence of the title. A last 16 clash with Taufik Hidayat potentially awaits, as the 2004 and 2008 Olympic champions face one another in 2012.
Peter Gade starts his campaign against Portugal’s Pedro Martins, but matches with Shon Wan Ho and Chen Long await on his path to the semi final stage and any chance of a medal. British hopes lie in the hands of Rajiv Ouseph, who takes on the European silver medalist Henri Hurskainen and world championship quarter finalist Kevin Cordon – with the group winner taking on Sho Sasaki unless one of the greatest upsets in the history of the Olympics and Virgil Soeroredjo sensationally defeats the 6th seeded Sasaki.
Michelle Li will be the top seeded Wang Yihan’s opening round match, with the Canadian meeting the top seed in both her events at the Olympics. Wang Xin takes on the USA’s Rena Wang whilst Li Xuerui has to take on both Carolina Marin and Claudia Rivero to ensure her place in the last 16. Saina Nehwal’s quarter of the draw is laden with Europeans, with no less than 14 of the 16 players coming from European – headlined by the 5th seeded Tine Baun, Saina Nehwal’s likely quarter final opponent. Susan Egelstaff couldn’t have hand picked a better group, with Britain’s sole entry taking on the 12th seeded Sayaka Sato and Slovenia’s Maja Tvrdy, both of which she has a superior head to head against.
Perhaps the toughest groups of the Olympics is in the men’s doubles, with Lee and Chung of Korea taking on the 2005 world championships Bach and Gunawan, as well as the Japanese pair of Sato and Kawamae then finally Koo and Tan of Malaysia. Another intriguing group features the 4th seeded Ko and Yoo, who take on Issara and Jongjit of Thailand, a pair they have never beaten, as well as Poland’s Cwalina and Logosz before the hardest of their group matches against Ahsan and Septano.
The women’s doubles groups have varying degrees of difficulty, with Ha and Kim as well as Jauhari and Polii receiving a fortunate group featuring the African and Oceania entries for the Olympics. Whilst Group D has three pairs inside of the top 10, with Tian and Zhao, Maeda and Suetsuna as well as Rytter Juhl and Pedersen all battling for one spot. Not to mention the Singapore pair of Tse and Poon who have excellent records against all the pairs except the Chinese 2nd seeds in their group.
As if the script wasn’t written for this, Zhang and Zhao will take on Adcock and Bankier inside Wembley Arena once more. Both were put into Group A with Fuchs and Michels of Germany and Nikolaenko and Sorokina of Russia with the Brits being favoured to claim at least one of the qualification spots on offer. Group C is without a doubt the “group of death” at this year’s Olympics. With three of the top 9 pairs in the world in the same group, with the 4th pair being ranked 13th. Ahsan and Natsir, Laybourn and Rytter Juhl as well as Lee and Ha will have to fight for two places, with the Indian pair of V and Gutta undoubtably going to have some say in the final standings of this group also.
The first two seeds claimed all five titles in Vantaa as several players looked to book their places at the 2012 Olympics.
Double Delight For GB
Rajiv Ouseph’s spot in London is all but secure after claiming the men’s singles title after a tight three game match with Henri Hurskainen, with no real challenge coming from the local hope Ville Lang who crashed out in the quarter finals in a tame performance against Rasmus Fladberg.
Adcock and Bankier have taken a massive step towards London, especially due to the pre-tournament withdrawal of their biggest rivals Robertson and Wallwork. They dropped a single game on route to the title, after being taken to three games in the final against Skaarup Rasmussen and Thygesen but claimed the title 22-24, 21-12, 21-13.
Second Seeds Strike
Michelle Li was on course for two titles, but fell at the final hurdle in the women’s singles against Jie Yao. The 2nd seed defeated the 3rd seeded Li in two games 22-20, 21-19 but the Canadian teamed up with Alex Bruce to defeat the Malaysian pair of Chow and Lee to claim one title this week.
The Russian pairing of Ivanov and Sozonov claimed the doubles titles, defeated fellow Russians Nikolaenko and Ukk in a one-sided final that seen the 2nd seeds lose just a single game the entire week to Ellis and Adcock in the semi final stage.
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 Pan-American games have just wrapped up, after an eventful week in Guadalajara, Mexico. The tournament is highly regarded as the most important tournament for Pan-American players.
The Men’s singles was all about who could get the closest to beating Guatemalan sensation Kevin Cordon. The twenty-four year old Guatemalan rose to fame this year after beating China’s Chen Long and making the quarter-finals of the 2011 BWF World Championships. He went the entire tournament without losing a set, although many came close. The bottom half of the draw was a little more exciting with unseeded players Charles Pyne (Jamaica) and Osleni Guerrero (Cuba) seeming to come out of nowhere to take control of the entire bottom half. Guerrero lead the way by defeating Canada’s top singles player Stephan Wojcikiewicz in three games, 10-21, 22-20, and 21-18. Pyne exploded into the quarter-finals after a close game with second seed Rodrigo Pacheco Carrillo of Peru. The match went the full length with Pyne wrapping up the third game soundly, 21-10. Pyne and Guerrero met in the semi-final, where both were strongly seeking a spot in the final. The match lasted 38 minutes, with the Cuban player coming out on top, 21-18, 18-21, and 21-18. However Guerrero’s luck fell short against Cordon in the final. The Cuban came close to drawing a third but Cordon edged him out in two sets, 23-21, and 21-19.
Canada’s Michelle Li took a page from Kevin Cordon’s book this tournament, winning the tournament without losing a set. In fact, no player scored over 16 points in any game against her. She dominated the top half of the draw, winning her semi-final over Victoria Montero of Mexico, 21-10, and 21-7. Once again, the bottom half of the draw was much more interesting. Second seed Rena Wang of USA, had a surprising upset in the form of Peru’s Claudia Rivero, with the Peruvian taking out the America in the quarter-final, 21-15, and 21-19. But Rivero would not progress any further as third seeded Canadian talent, Joycelyn Ko overwhelmed Rivero in three sets, 21-9, 17-21, and 21-10. The final was all Canadian, with Ko and Li even being from the same province of Ontario. Michelle Li retained her sharp form, taking the Pan Am title, 21-13, and 21-12 in only twenty minutes.
Tony Gunawan formerly of Indonesia, has obtained American citizenship and is now flying the flag for USA men’s doubles, with partner, Howard Bach. Gunawan, who is widely regarded as the greatest front court player of all time, showed complete and utter dominance over his half of the draw, advancing to the final after only three short matches. They defeated the Mexican pairing of Lopez Andres and Lino Munoz, 21-12, and 21-12 in their semi-final. Canada’s second seeded pair of Adrian Liu and Derrick Ng seemed to have their half under control until the semi-finals. Halim Haryanto Ho and Sattwat Pongnairat of USA burst into the final after defeating the top Canadian pair 22-20, and 21-14. The final would be an all American brawl, with Gunawan and Bach displaying their 2005 World Champion form, winning 21-10 and 21-14 in 15 solid minutes.
The women’s doubles would be another battle for supremacy between USA and Canada. Top seeded sisters of Rena and Iris Wang made their way into the semi-finals with two solid wins. They then faced the dynamics of Canadians Grace Gao and Joycelyn Ko. The Canadian pair put up a tremendous fight but ultimately fell short in the end, with the Wang sisters winning themselves a spot in the final, 21-10, 10-21, and 21-12. The bottom half also had an American and Canadian semi-final. Third seeded Americans, Eva Lee and Paula Lynn Obanana led the way into the semi-final, beating both a Brazilian and Peruvian pairing on the way. But second seeds Alex Bruce and Michelle Li would not be far behind, making their way into the semi-final after impressive wins against Mexico and Dominican Republic. The Canadians and Americans clashed in their semi-final; however the Canadian pairing of Bruce and Li displayed a higher level of badminton in the tight third set. The final was another brawl between Canada and USA, with Bruce and Li facing off against the Wang sisters. Michelle Li walked away with her second title of the tournament, when partner Alex Bruce and her defeated the USA pair in two sets, 21-15, and 21-15. The match only lasted a total of twenty minutes.
The mixed doubles was another Canada vs. USA showdown. The top half of the draw featured top seeds Toby Ng and Grace Gao of Canada, facing off against Howard Bach and Paula Lynn Obanana of USA, in a tough three set final. The Americans fought hard, but Ng and Gao had more control in the third game, winning 21-11, 19-21, and 21-14. In the bottom half of the draw, Americans Halim Haryanto Ho and Eva Lee had an easier time finding their way into the final, winning their semi-final against the Peruvian team of Rodrigo Pacheco Carrillo and Claudia Rivero, 21-13 and 21-19. The mixed doubles final was the longest final of the tournament. Ng and Gao had met Halim and Eva in a few other tournaments this year and it seemed to be a pretty evenly set final. The match went to a third game and lasted thirty-two minutes in total. The Canadian pairing came out on top in the end, finishing off the American pair, 21-13, 9-21, and 21-17. This was Canada’s third title, meaning Canadians had won three out of the total five events, while Guatemala and USA only won one title each.
There were not very many surprises on the first day of the 26th Brazil International Cup. Guatemala’s top singles player Kevin Cordon made it through his match without too many problems, winning over USA’s Sattawat Pongnairat 21-11, and 21-11. Ivan Sozonov, Guatemala International Men’s singles and Men’s doubles champion had quite a scare against Czech player Petr Koukal. The match went three games with Sozonov taking the final game 21-18.
Canada’s Olympic hopeful Stephan Wojcikiewicz overtook Brazilian star Daniel Paiola, 21-9, 21-15. And in the women’s singles, first seeded Susan Egelstaff had a frightening first round when Portugal’s Telma Santos forced a third game. The final scores were 21-23, 21-16, and 21-9 with Egelstaff taking the match and moving on to the next round. Michelle Li is looking at attempting to win her second tournament of the season with a first round win over Japan’s Ayumi Mine, 21-7, 21-18.
In the Men’s doubles, the top pairings from Canada, Austrailia, USA, and Brazil all made it past the first hurdle of this tournament. The women’s doubles provided even fewer surprises with the expected teams advancing onto the next round.
A big win in the mixed doubles for Peru’s young team of Mario Cuba and Lorena Duany came early on in the first round. They defeated Brazilian doubles sensation Hugo Arthuso, who paired up with Marina Eliezer in three games, 18-21, 21-13, and 21-10.
The twenty sixth Brasil International Cup is underway today, with some great players from Pan America as well as the world in attendance. Guatemala’s breakout star Kevin Cordon will be attempting to redeem himself after losing to Russia’s Vladmir Ivanoz in the semi-final of his home tournament, Guatemala International. Ivanoz is one of the three Russians in attendance of Brasil International, and they are no doubt the ones to beat in this tournament as Ivanoz and his partner Ivan Sozonov teamed up to win the Men’s doubles title in Guatemala, as well as facing off against each other in the Men’s singles final.
Meanwhile the women’s singles may be very unpredictable. Michelle Li of Canada is definitely the favourite after edging out Scotland’s top seeded Susan Egelstaff in the semi-final and Switzerland’s Jeanine Cicognini in the final to win the title last week in Guatemala.
The home country of Brazil definitely has the strongest numbers in this tourney. No surprise there. However a Brazilian duo to watch would definitely be 4th seeded Hugo Arthuso and Daniel Paiola. They reached the semi-final of Guatemala and now are prepared to go for their home title. They lost to Adrian Liu and Derrick Ng, Canada’s top doubles pair who fell to the Russian team of Ivanoz and Sozonoz in the final.
Matches to watch out for in the women’s doubles will mostly occur in the later rounds. A possible quarter final in the very bottom of the draw could have USA’s top team of Rena and Iris Wang clashing with one of Canada’s top teams Grace Gao and Joycelyn Ko. Gao will also be teaming up with usual partner Toby Ng, to take the top seeded position in the mixed doubles.
So far we are looking forward to a great tournament. A great concentration of North and South America’s finest as well as few top players from abroad.