Men’s Singles: 2012 Preview

On December 24, 2011, in Badminton News, BWF Super Series, by Eddie Smith

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.

2012 Calendar

Hidayat Falls Early In London

Another big name fell in the men’s singles as the 4th seeded Taufik Hidayat was defeated in the second round by Singapore’s Zi Liang Derek Wong, but Hidayat was not the only seed to crash out on the 3rd day in London.

Hidayat was joined by 14th seeded Marc Zwiebler, who defeated Hidayat twice in the build up events to the world championships but lost in three games to Spain’s Pablo Abian in 74 minutes. Abian takes on the fairytale story of the event to date, Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon who is through to the last 16 after defeating Sweden’s Henri Hurskainen in two games. The top three seeds remaining in the draw had little trouble reaching the last 16, with Lee Chong Wei defeating Ville Lang in two games to set up a match against Park Sung Hwan in the third round. Lin Dan defeated Ireland’s Scott Evans in two tight games to set up his third round match against Lee Hyun Il of Korea whilst the 3rd seeded Peter Gade was very impressive in his 21-9, 21-5 victory over Pukhov of Russia and takes on the 13th seeded Simon Santoso in the 3rd round tomorrow.

The second round of matches in the women’s singles was completed today, with the first big name casualty coming in the 8th seeded Bae Youn Joo losing out to Pi Hongyan of France whilst the top seeded Chinese players on show today progressed safely into the last 16. Wang Yihan defeated Gu of Singapore in two games, as did 3rd Wang Xin in her victory over Anastasia Prokopenko of Russia. Saina Nehwal’s campaign also started with a win over Chloe Magee of Ireland and will take on Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong in the last 16.

The second round in the men’s doubles was also completed today, with top seeded Boe and Mogensen winning in impressive fashion to reach the last 16 and a match against Hashimoto and Hirata of Japan, seeded 9th.The 4th seeded Koo and Tan were also given a real test by the Chinese pair of Liu and Qiu, taking them to three games before the Malaysian’s eventually progressed to take on Chen and Lin of Chinese Taipei, who defeated the 13th seeded Kindervater and Schoettler to reach the last 16. Ko and Yoo were also taken to three games by the English pairing of Adcock and Ellis, before the 5th seeds claimed victory and a last 16 place to take on Cho and Kwon, in an all-Korean match.

The biggest seed to fall to date came in the women’s doubles as the 2nd seeded Chien and Cheng crashed out to the Indian pair of Gutta and Ponnappa in two games, who will take on the 11th seeded Poon and Tse who ended the English pairing of Langley and Smith’s run at the championships this year. Fujii and Kakiiwa almost crashed out today also, needing 88 minutes and saving a match point in their match over Chin and Wong before progressing 22-20 in the deciding game and setting up a 3rd round match against Vislova and Sorokina of Russia, seeded 10.

Britain’s last hope of success lies with Bankier and Adcock in the mixed doubles, after their victory over the 8th seeded Anugritayawon and Voravichaikul of Thailand in two games. Their reward is a 3rd round match against Shiota and Ikeda of Japan, seeded 15th who defeated the Austrian pairing of Zirnwald and Baldurf in two games. There was little hassle for the top seedings in the bottom half of the draw, as Ahmad and Natsir progressed into the last 16 in two games, as did the 5th seeded Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen in two games also and the 4th seeded Tian and Jiaming are also through to the last 16 to take on Mateusiak and Zieba of Poland.

Day 3 results

Taufik Hidayat Canada Open 2011

Taufik Starts Strong in Richmond

Returning for it’s second annual run in it’s current form the Canada Open is underway now in Richmond, Canada. Also returning is marquee player Taufik Hidayat, ready to once again delight the local spectators.

Business As Usual For Taufik

The first day of the event proved relatively non threatening to the big names.  Of the mens singles seeds only Michael Lahnsteiner of Austria fell with a 21-16, 21-19 loss to American Howard Shu.  Pablo Abian struggled more than expected with Andrez Lopez but still managed to win 21-13, 19-21, 21-13.  Crowd favourite Taufik Hidayat managed a fairly straight forward win over Switzerland’s Anthony Dumartheray 21-16, 21-13.

The womens singles seeds faced even less pressure with all of them progressing without dropping a single set.  Top seeded Shao Chieh Cheng looked completely at ease during her first round match against Joycelyn Ko of Canada winning 21-16, 21-6.  From here on out it’s quite possible that the top seed may play all Japanese players until the final unless Spanish youngster Carolina Marin has something to say about it.  The Spaniard won her first match against Victoria Montero 21-7, 21-15.

Lee Yong Dae Ends Canadians’ Run

Lee Yong Dae may be a crowd favourite and favourite in both his respective events, however he wasn’t too popular yesterday when he easily ended the hopes of two Canadian pairs.  Starting with the mixed doubles he paired with Ha Jung Eun to defeat Hao Li and Reshma Bhambhani 21-5, 21-15 in a mere 15 minutes.  Next he went on to partner with Ko Sung Hyun to defeat Canada’s number 2 mens doubles pair Toby Ng and Jon Vandervet 21-8, 21-15.  While Ko Sung Hyun might not be Lee’s regular partner there is no doubt that the pair are legitimate threats to win here this week.  The last match of the day which kept all the volunteers at the Oval late was Juergen Koch and Peter Zauner’s mens doubles match against China’s sixth seeded Liu Xiaolong and Qiu Zihan.  The Austrian pair were obviously no match for the Chinese in terms of raw speed, however they played incredibly smart and their anticipation made up for any lack of physical speed they may have had.  Reading all of the Chinese pairs shots they pushed them in an incredible 3 game match, but eventually lost 21-15, 18-21, 21-15.

Canada’s Grether and Reid Crushed

The womens doubles provided numerous byes to several pairs and few matches were played as a result, however Canada’s top ranked international pair Charmaine Reid and Nicole Grether fell to Shu Cheng and Bao Yixin 21-11, 21-6 which was surely a disappointment to the local fans.  However, national champions Alex Bruce and Michelle Li remain and today have an important match in their Olympic qualification run against Americans Eva Lee and Paula Obanana.

Full Results Here

Live Stream Here

Axelsen Gets His Revenge On Abian

What could have been a double success for Spain on home turf turned into the new generations time to shine, as Viktor Axelsen claimed the men’s singles title in a three game match against Pablo Abian in a 48 minute matchup.

The mixed doubles title was won by the top seeded Danish pair of Schjott-Kristiensen and Delbo Larsen who beat their Croatian opponents Durkinjak and Ponzanovic in a tight two game match, with the Danes winning 21-17, 21-19. The men’s doubles title was taken by the Polish pair of Cwalina and Logosz in a one-sided final over the 4th seeded Kasbauer and Zurwonne, with the Poles winning 21-14, 21-11.

The women’s doubles final was the only match to go the distance, with the top seeded Dutch pair of Van Dooremalen and Jonathans defeating Reid and Grether in three games, but the shock was on with the 2nd seeded Canadians taking the opening game over their Dutch counterparts, but the top seeds fought back to win the next two games and take the title 12-21, 21-18, 21-14.

The women’s singles final was the most one sided match of the day with 7th seeded Carolina Marin defeating 5th seeded Olga Konon in a 21-13, 21-14 victory that took just 20 minutes, topping off the week for Marin who failed to drop an game in the entire week.

*Special thanks to Popeyee for allowing us to use their Flickr images*

Sunday’s Results:

Axelsen Through To Final

The two teenager superstars of the singles game in Europe have again battled through an excellent field of competitors to reach a major final and for Carolina Marin it is especially significant with her playing in front of a home crowd.

Viktor Axelsen’s run to the final has been impressive, with four victories in straight games including an impressive 21-14, 21-19 victory over Przemyslaw Wacha in the semi final. His opponent in the final will have the crowd on his side as Spain’s 5th seeded Pablo Abian came through a 68 minute war with top seeded Tommy Sugiarto, taking the third game 22-20 to book his place in tomorrow’s final.

Carolina Marin’s route to the final is similar to Axelsen’s, four wins, no dropped games and into the final. She also takes on the 5th seed, Olga Konon of Germany who has been just as impressive in her route to the final. Konon has failed to drop a game also and has been equally if not more impressive than Marin in reaching tomorrow’s final.

The men’s doubles features the top seeded pairs from the halves of the draw, with 4th seeded Kasbauer and Zurwonne taking on the 2nd seeded Cwalina and Logosz. The German 4th seeds came through a tight semi final against Saeki and Taohara eventually winning 23-21, 23-21. The Polish 2nd seeds have had little trouble in reaching the final, winning all three matches in straight games.

The top two seeds in the women’s doubles face off in tomorrow’s final, with the 2nd seeded Reid and Grether progressing despite Grether’s retirement from the singles on Friday. They take on the top seeded Dutch pair of Van Dooremalen and Jonathans who have progressed without the loss of a game to the final, whilst the Canadian pair have lost just one game also on route to the final.

The mixed doubles finals sees the top seeded Danish pair of Delbo Jensen and Schjott-Kristiensen take on the unseeded Croatian pair of Durkinjak and Ponzanovic, after they dismissed the 2nd seeded Ng and Gao in their semi final, taking the third game 22-20 to reach the final. The Danish pair have been the polar opposites in their route to the final, winning all three matches double quick time to reach the final after being on court just 80 minutes.

Saturday’s Results:

Joachim Persson Out In Second Round

The majority of the seeds have progressed safely through the opening two days of the Swiss Open with an excellent field present in Basel even with the loss of it’s Super Series tag for the 2011.

Jan O Jorgensen is the top seed this week and has safely progressed his opening two rounds without the loss of a game to Ville Lang and Christian Lind Thomsen to reach the last 16. His 3rd round opponent is Kazushi Yamada who is in excellent form since his victory over Taufik Hidayat last week in the All Englands. Also in this half of the draw is Park Sung Hwan who has been the pick of the players in his opening two rounds, with a pair of impressive victories for the 4th seed. Viktor Axelsen almost defeated the 16th seeded Hans-Kristian Vittinghus to reach the 3rd round, only for Vittinghus to battle back in the 3rd game to win the all-Danish match up.

Joachim Persson had shown a return to form in recent months but the manner of his defeat to Lee Hyun Il is a worrying sign to the 11th seed as he crashed out tamely in the second round, losing 21-10, 21-9 in just 21 minutes. 2nd seed Simon Santoso has been nothing but impressive in reaching the last 16 with two victory with the loss of just 42 points to date. Spain’s Pablo Abian is the pick of the unseeded Europeans left in the draw with a pair of good victories taking him to the last 16 where he will play Muhammad Hashim, the 9th seeded Malaysian.

Saina Nehwal didn’t have to wait long to get another shot to defeat Eriko Hirose as the pair meet in the 3rd round this week, with both players coming through their opening matches in two games. Juliane Schenk is Newhal’s main rival in the other half of the draw and has a tough second round match against Bae Sueng Hee of Korea. Ella Diehl is the biggest casualty of the opening round, with the 5th seed losing to Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying 21-9, 21-19. There is another Spanish story this week, this time with the European junior champion Carolina Marin who has progressed through qualifying and has reached the second round with a two game win over Nicole Grether.

Boe and Mogensen have continued in the form that won them their first All England title to set up a second round match against Bosch and Ridder of Holland in the second round.  The strength of the men’s doubles draw is very high, with Lee and Jung also playing this week and progressing to the second round with a three game win over Endo and Hayakawa of Japan. Ko and Yoo of Korea are the second seeds this week and are into the last 16 after winning their all-Korean first round match against Kim and Kim.

Top seeded Cheng and Chien are hoping that the lack of Chinese pairings in the women’s doubles will improve their chances of success in Basel this week and have started with a two game victory in their opening round to set up a 2nd round match against Japan’s Misaki and Takahashi. The 2nd seeds this week are Jauhari and Polii who take on England’s White and Wallwork in the second round. The European challengers this week will be the 5th seeded Rytter Juhl and Pedersen, who take on Wang and Wang of America after their opening round triumph.

Lee Yong Dae is partnered up with a new female this week as the Korean squad try to find their best partnerships ahead of the Olympic qualification for London, Ha Jung Eun is partnering Lee Yong Dae this week and the 8th seeds start has been impressive, winning 21-10, 21-8 in their opening round match to set up a second round match against Valiyaveetil and Gutta of India. Chen and Cheng of Chinese Taipei are the top seeds this week and take on the Japanese pair of Ikeda and Shiota in round 2 after both won their opening round matches in two games. The main rival from the bottom half comes in the form of the 2nd seeded Wallwork and Robertson of England who defeated Kazuno and Takahashi in their opening round match to progress into the last 16.

Swiss Open Grand Prix

Axelsen Hoping To Go One Further

Around this time last year the badminton world sat in awe of the young Viktor Axelsen after he brushed aside on opponent after another on his way to his first ever senior international final.  Now the Dane is back in familiar territory as he has found himself once again in the final of the Swedish International, and this time with a much less formidable opponent, an opponent who Axelsen easily disposed of earlier this fall.  The last time Pablo Abian played Viktor he lost 21-10, 21-7.  Hopefully for the crowd this time around will be a much closer match.  Abian has played well this week with a big win over the tall Dutch shuttler Eric Pang in three exceedingly close games 21-19, 19-21, 21-18.  Axelsen’s semi-final was less hostile as he defeated Kestutis Navickas 21-13, 21-14.

The women’s final should hold much less drama and excitement as both finalists hail from Japan.  Nevertheless respect is owed to both players who were required to overcome formidable opponents on their way to this stage.  Qualifier Mayu Sekiya defeated the top seed Judith Meulendijks in the second round, as well as third seed Susan Egelstaff to earn her finals spot.  Her compatriot Kaori Imebeppu defeated the female phenom Carolina Marin in her semi-final match 19-21, 21-16, 21-8 to earn her final spot.

In the mens doubles it appears that Denmark has much talent ready and waiting to fill the places of their top pairs should they retire anytime soon.  With Axelsen shining in the mens singles it looks like yet another young Dane is showing promise as Rasmus Fladberg and his partner Kim Astrup Sorensen have made their way into the finals after defeating Andi Hartono Tandaputra and Gert Kunka 21-18, 21-16.  On a side note Fladberg is the son of previous doubles world champion Steen Fladberg.  They will now face off against Lukasz Moren and Wojciech Szkudlarczyk who made their way through by defeating another Danish pair, Mats Bue and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen 21-15, 11-21, 22-20.

In the womens doubles we have the only top seed to survive through to finals day as Japans Rie Eto and Yu Wakita have gone on relatively unchallenged thus far.  They won relatively comfortably against Maria Helsbol and Anne Skelbaek 21-11, 21-13 in their semi-final match.  They will now place another Danish pair Line Damkjaer Kruse and Maria Ropke who defeated second seeds Heather Olver and Mariana Agathangelou due to a withdrawal part way through the match.

Heather Olver does however have an opportunity to make up for her disappointment in the doubles as she has found herself in the mixed final alongside partner Robin Middleton.  Olver and Middleton defeated Imam Sodikin Irawan and Cecilia Bjuner in three games 15-21, 21-12, 21-10.  Their opponents will be the Dutch pair Dave Khodabux and Samantha Barning.  Khodabux and Barning defeated Ireland’s Sam and Chloe Magee 21-16, 21-18.

Swedish International 2011 Draws

Swedish International 2011

After a quiet last few weeks the EBU circuit is back in action again this week in Stockholm for the Swedish International 2011.  In both the men’s and women’s singles events the Dutch have taken the top spots with Eric Pang and Judith Meulendijks sitting atop their respective draws.

Pang starts off his men’s singles campaign with a tough first round encounter against Ukrainian Dmytro Zavadsky who is known to be a scrappy contender.  Seeded second here is Lithuanian Kestutis Navickas who will likely face off against Denmark’s Peter Mikkelsen in the second round.  Mikkelsen surprisingly had to qualify, but was promoted to the main draw.  Other notables in the men’s draw include Pablo Abian of Spain, Ville Lang of Finland and of course all eyes will be on the young Danish world junior champion, Viktor Axelsen.  This time last year Axelsen gained attention by making it to the finals and upsetting numerous strong opponents on his way.

Meulendijks first major challenge will likely come in the quarter-finals against Denmark’s Karina Jorgensen who is fifth seeded.  Their half of the draw also holds Scotland’s Susan Egelstaff who appears to be a strong favourite to come through to the semi-finals stage.  The second seed Larisa Griga has an especially difficult starting match as she faces off against Spanish phenom Carolina Marin, a match which from the looks of things should be the toughest match on that half of the draw.

The men’s doubles draw lacks the usual punch expected in an EBU event with few big names present.  The top seeds are France’s Baptiste Careme and Sylvain Grosjean, while the second seeds are Russia’s Vitalij Durkin and Alexander Nikolaenko.  Of note is the large contingent of French players in the doubles draw as four pairs are present.

Japan look to be the favourites in the womens doubles with Rie Eto and Yu Wakita in the top seeded position, however England’s Heather Olver and Marian Agathangelou will be trying to upset the Japanese pair.  Japan also has another couple of pairs lurking unseeded in the draws, as does Denmark, so don’t be surprised to see a couple of upsets in the earlier rounds.

Finally in the mixed doubles it’s the Ukrainian pair of Valerly Atrashchenkov and Elena Prus taking the top spot while Baptiste Careme and Laura Choinet are second seeds.  England’s Robin Middleton and Heather Olver are unseeded, and no doubt a threat regardless of their lack of seeding.  Ireland’s Sam and Chloe Magee are also strong threats in the fourth seed position.

For full draws and ongoing results be sure to check back here again tomorrow, and also have a look at the draw page below:

Swedish International 2011 Draws

Hans Kristian Vittinghus Takes Irish Title

The partnership of Adcock and Bankier might be a new one, but the history of the players gave you an idea that it would be a successful one. Bankier reached #12 in the world with Robert Blair in 2008/9 and Adcock has been part of the GB Olympic set-up for a number of years.

They wasted little time in Ireland securing their second title in three weeks with a two game, 26 minute victory over Skovgaard and Andersen of Denmark, winning 21-13, 21-11. Scottish success was doubled as 2nd seeded Susan Egelstaff won her first title of 2010, defeating a Dane of her own in Karina Jorgensen, winning 23-21, 21-8.

The men’s singles was a much tighter affair, with Vittinghus and Abian sharing the opening two games and the third going all the way to 20-20 and beyond. It was the top seeded Dane that eventually came through, taking the third game 23-21 in their 57 minute matchup, which would be the longest match of the day.

The women’s doubles seen the top 2 seeds in the final, with Denmark doubling it’s tally for the week as 2nd seeded Heisbol and Skelbaek defeated the top seeded English duo of Olver and Agathangelou in a three-game, 48 minute matchup with the Danes winning in the third 21-15. Chris Adcock doubled his tally of wins in Ireland as he and partner Andrew Ellis defeated their more experienced team-mate Anthony Clark and his partner Chris Landridge in the men’s doubles final, with Ellis and Adcock winning 21-13, 21-16.

Day 3 Results

Jorgensen Ends Local Hopes

Another two match day awaited the remaining players on Day 2, for some it could potentially mean four matches over two events. Chloe Magee fantastic win over the top seeded Elizabeth Cann put her through to the semi finals, only to be defeated by Karina Jorgensen in a tame two game match. The mixed doubles was a similar story for Magee, as her and partner Sam Magee defeated the English pairing of Middleton and Olver in the quarter finals but lost out to the Danish pair of Skovgaard and Andersen in a two game defeat leaving Ireland with no representatives on finals day.

The men’s singles final sees the top seeded Hans-Kristian Vittinghus take on 8th seeded Pablo Abian of Spain. Vittinghus won his all-Danish quarter final against Peter Mikkelsen and then went out to defeat the 3rd seeded Frenchman, Matthieu Lo Ping Ying to book his place in tomorrow’s final. Abian defeated the 4th Rune Ulsing in his quarter final match then defeated the 7th seeded Ville Lang in two games to reach the final. Karina Jorgensen’s opponent in the women’s singles final is the 2nd seeded Susan Egelstaff of Scotland after wins over Ragna Ingolfsdottir of Iceland in the quarter finals and then a tight two game victory over Spain’s Carolina Marin.

The men’s doubles final is an all-English affair, with two unseeded pairs making the final. Adcock and Ellis defeated two Danish pairs, including the 3rd seeded Elbjorn and Skovgaard in the semi finals whilst the other pair of Clark and Middleton defeated the German pair of Heinz and Schulz in the last 8 before beating the 2nd seeded Careme and Grosjean to reach tomorrow’s final.

The women’s doubles final sees the top two seeds meeting, with top seeds Agathangelou and Olver taking on the Danish 2nd seeds Heisbol and Skelbaek. The English pair were taken to three games in their quarter final against Fangel and Sorensen before winning their semi final in convincing fashion to reach the final. Heisbol and Skelbaek dropped their first game of the week in their semi final over Lefel and Luttmann but bounced back to take the next two games. Chris Adcock reached his second final this week with partner Imogen Bankier and the pair look for their second title in three weeks after winning the Scottish Open late last month, the pair take on the Danish pair of Skovgaard and Andersen in the final.

Day 2 Results

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