It was the year of the unseeded players to shine, a resurrection of Danish badminton and a dream realized for one of the best players ever as Lee Chong Wei took his first All England Championships. Tine Rasmussen avenged her 2009 defeat and a new force in mixed doubles shone on the biggest stage.
Unseeded Kenichi Tago looked for one last sensational performance in a week he will consider one of the best of his career to date, all that stood in his way of the most stunning of stories was the winner of the Korean and Malaysian Super Series events, Lee Chong Wei. The Japanese player lead for most of the opening game before a 6-point run for the top seed put him ahead and despite a stern fightback by Tago, Lee Chong Wei took the game 21-19.
The second game was more comfortable for Lee Chong Wei, despite several fightbacks by Tago to level the scores up, he was unable to take the lead in the second game. Tago managed to save two match points from 17-20 down but Lee Chong Wei took the match at the third attempt to claim his first All England title 21-19, 21-19.
The final turned into a repeat of the 2009 final, with Tine Rasmussen taking on Wang Yihan. The opening game was dominated by the Dane, never letting Wang Yihan into it and winning the game 21-14. The Chinese top seed turned the match on it’s head with a dominating performance in the second game, a game she lead for the majority of and won 21-18 to take the match into a deciding game. The third game was a much tighter encounter, as both players held the lead at stages throughout, with the match poised at 19-19, Tine Rasmussen calmly served out to win the title 21-19 and avenge her 2009 defeat to Wang Yihan.
An All-Danish final guaranteed a second title for Denmark as Lars Paaske and Jonas Rasmussen took on 4th seeded Boe and Mogensen. The unseeded pair had defeated the top seeds and 3rd seeds to reach this point and needed just one win over the 4th seeds to cap off an incredible week in Birmingham. The opening game was a tight affair, with the 4th seeds leading for most of the game before a late fightback from the unseeded Paaske and Rasmussen gave them a late lead, only for the 4th seeds to retake the lead to win the opening game 23-21 after saving two games points.
The second game was a copy of the first, only this time Paaske and Rasmussen led most of the way only to slip up late on but rallied back to take the second game 21-19 to set up a deciding game. The third game was a superb encounter, with the duos exchanging points with each other for the opening 18 points, Paaske and Rasmussen then broke into a slight lead, only to be reeled back in at 18-18 and then the 4th seeds saved a match point and then had four chances to win the match before Paaske and Rasmussen strung three points together from 23-24 down to win the match 26-24.
The All-Chinese final was between the top seeded Du and Yu and 3rd seeded Zhao and Cheng. The first game was dominated by the lower seeded Zhao and Cheng before giving up an 18-13 lead to allow the top seeds a game point in the first, before coming back to win the game 22-20. The second game looked to be going the same way but Du and Yu reeled off 7 points from 15-12 down to an unassailable lead in the game to win the second game and level the match up at 21-16.
The top seeds had the momentum in third and proved why they were the top seeded pair in the event with another run of points late in the third game to give them a lead that they would never give up and won the third game 21-13.
Unseeded Zhang and Zhao had defeated the 1st, 4th and 8th seeds to reach the final and had another seed standing in their way of their unlikely mixed doubles success in the 2nd seeded Widianto and Natsir. The second seeds started off the better and took a lead for most of the game. At 14-18 down, the Chinese pair reeled off point after point before winning the opening game with their first game point and a 7-point streak to take a shock lead in the match. The second game was a much tighter affair but the Chinese pair managed to stay in touch and had two chances in the second game to win the match before the 2nd seed clinched the second game 25-23 to set up a deciding third game.
Natsir and Widianto continued on in the third game from where they finished in the second, opening an early 9-3 lead. The Chinese continued to chip into the lead and levelled the scores at 14-14 and reeled an important three point run off at 16-16 to give them breathing space, Natsir and Widianto brought it back to 19-18, then the Chinese pair calmly served out to claim their first All England title, winning the deciding game 21-18.
The unlikely upset against Lee Chong Wei had to be done for Gade to reach the final but it was another unlikely man who reached the All England Final. However, the day has been a successful one for Danish Badminton.
The dream that was Peter Gade’s 2nd All England title ended today as top seed Lee Chong Wei continued his excellent run in the Super Series with his third final of the year and ending Peter Gade’s fabulous run at the semi final stage, the Malaysian winning 21-17, 21-14 in 47 minutes.
In the other semi final, world #20 Kenichi Tago played 6th seeded Bao Chunlai, who defeated Lin Dan in the quarterfinals. The first game was dominated by the Chinese 6th seed, winning 21-18, however the second game was a much tighter affair but Bao Chunlai had a chance at 20-19 to book his place in the final, only for the unseeded Japanese player to win the next three points to take it into a third game. Tago was clearly motivated by his second game victory and dominated the deciding game and won the match on his third match point, winning the 3rd game 21-18 to book his place in the All England Final.
Tine Rasmussen done what Peter Gade could not and reached the final, her third final in succession with a 21-19, 21-17 victory over the 7th seeded Saina Nehwal in her semi final match, The 2010 final will be a rematch of the 2009 final, with top seed Wang Yihan defeating her Chinese compatriot Wang Xin in the second semi final, the 2009 winner coming through 21-17, 26-24.
The Danish success continued in the men’s doubles, with an All-Danish final. 4th seeded Boe and Mogensen booked their place first with a win over Guo and Xu, the 7th seeds from China, winning the match 21-16, 21-16. Unseeded Paaske and Rasmussen continued their love affair with the NIA, the location of their world championship victory in 2003. They defeated the 3rd seeds Kido and Setiawan in three superb games to book their place in tomorrow’s final, winning 14-21, 21-13, 23-21.
An all-Chinese final was assured in the women’s doubles, but it is an unlikely final with the 3rd seeded Zhao and Cheng defeating last weeks German Open winners and 2nd seeded Ma and Wang in the semi final, winning 21-17, 21-18 in 49 minutes. The other semi final pitted the top seeds Du and Yu against Pan and Tian, with the first game being won narrowly by the top seeds 24-22, with Pan and Tian having the opportunity to win the game at 21-20 after saving 4 games points previously. The second game was too much for the unseeded pair and the top seeds progressed 24-22, 21-10.
There was unseeded success for a Chinese pair in the mixed doubles, with Zhao Yunlei reaching her second All England Final after winning her women’s doubles semi final against Ma and Wang, she partnered up with Zhang Nan to defeated the 4th seeds and fellow countrymen He Hanbin and Yu Yang to reach the final, winning 21-14, 23-21. They will meet the 2nd seeded Widianto and Natsir in the final, as they defeated 3rd seeds Lee and Lee in the other semi final 21-16, 18-21, 21-8 to book their place in the final.
After a week of hard work the finals are here and China looks primed for domination. With only one event out of their reach, China has 3 guaranteed golds and a chance at the fourth. Mens singles, womens singles, and womens doubles are all in the bag now for China, and Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng will certainly do their best to capture a fourth for the day, and their second for their careers.
Just one day remains in this year World Championships, where no top seed will be playing on finals day. Only Lee and Lee remained as top seeds left in any of the draws but were defeated by Thomas Laybourn and Kamila Rytter Juhl of Denmark in three games.
They will play Nova Widianto and Liliyana Natsir in the final after they defeated the second Danish couple in the semi finals, Joachim Fischer Neilsen and Christina Pedersen.
In the Mens Singles, Chen Jin was in superb form to beat Taufik Hidayat 21-16, 21-6 to reach the final, where he will play Lin Dan. The Chinese 5th seed came through his match against Sony Dwi Kuncoro in three games
Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong lost out in an agonizing three set affair, losing 22-20 in the decider against Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae. Jung and Lee will play Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng, the Chinese partnership came back from losing the opening set to win in three games.
Finals day provides three guaranteed gold medals for the Chinese, starting off with the all-Chinese Men’s Singles Final between Lin Dan and Chen Jin. Both players have only lost one game in their route to the final but Lin Dan goes in as the favourite.
The Mixed Doubles Final is the only match without a Chinese interest, as Denmark’s Laybourn and Rytter Juhl play Indonesia’s Widianto and Natsir. Laybourn and Rytter Dahl have defeated both the third and first seeds to reach the final.
The next two matches are dominated by China. Zhang Yawen and Zhao Tingting play against Cheng Shu and Zhao Yunlei in the Women’s Doubles Final, followed by Xie Xingfang against Lu Lan in the Women’s Singles Final.
The last match of the day pits Cai and Fu against Lee and Jung in the Men’s Doubles Finals. The breakdown of the seedings are:
Three 2nd Seeds
One 4th Seed
Three 5th Seeds
Two 7th Seeds
One 8th Seed
Play begins at 2pm local time.
The Mixed doubles will be one of the few events where anyone from ten seeds could win the title. The Olympic Champions come into the event as top seeds, with the 2007 World Champions second seeds. The on-form couple coming into the tournament are also the third seeds.
2007 World Championship Winners: Nova Widianto and Liliyana Natsir
2008 Olympic Champions: Lee Jong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung
Lee Jong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung
Last Tournament: Indonesia Super Series (Finalists)
2nd Round Opponents: NO MATCH
The draw has opened out well for the top seeds, a first round bye as well as their second round opponents pulling out allows both partners to focus on their other discipline before taking to the court already in the round of 16.
However, this means their first match together is likely to be against 14th seeded Chinese couple Xu Chen and Zhao Yunlei. It could work in their favour or the two byes to the last 16 could be the worst thing to happen to the top seeds.
Other Seeds to Watch:
Nova Widianto and Liliyana Natsir
Last Tournament: Indonesian Super Series (Quarter Finals)
2nd Round Opponents: Aleksei Konakh and Alesia Zaitsava (BLR)
The 2007 World Champions have had an indifferent 2009 since their win early in the year in the Malaysia Super Series. They have reached the latter stages in the last few months without winning a competition since January.
Their big test will come in the last eight against Indian couple Jwala Gutta and Diju Valiyaveetil, a couple which beat them in the Korean Super Series this year.
Ma Jin and Zheng Bo
Last Tournament: Malaysian Open (Won)
2nd Round Opponents: Goh Liu Ying and Chan Peng Soon (MAL)
If you’re looking for the form couple, look no further. Winners of the last three Super Series events, beating the top seeded Lee and Lee in two of the Super Series finals. Ma Jin is arguably the most on-form doubles player in the world right now, winning both the level and mixed in Malaysia just 6 weeks ago.
A potential semi-final against Lee and Lee would be worthy of the final, if both make it to the last 4.
These are the “big three” who will be the favourites for the title, 4th seeded Yu Yang and He Hanbin of China are another couple with a real chance, but to make it through to the last four they have to beat 6th seeded Pedersen and Fischer Nielsen in the quarter finals.
Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg are seeded 11 and have made a run in this tournament in 2007 previously. The final four couples from the Beijing Olympics are all seeded in the top 5, with second seeded pair Zheng Bo and Gao Ling no longer playing together, Zheng Bo’s new partnership with Ma Jin has them seeded 3rd.
The two Danish couples ranked 6th and 7th are also strong contenders, it’s perhaps the most open draw at this years World Championships.