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

Denmark’s best chance of a title ended before play even started today, with Boe and Mogensen’s withdrawal and it went from bad to worse in the doubles for the Danes.

Peter Gade was one Danish highlight, with a two game victory against Tommy Sugiarto and he has been joined in the last 16 by another two Danes. Jan O Jorgensen defeated Kenichi Tago in two games to set up a second round match against Lin Dan, who also progressed comfortably into round 2. Viktor Axelsen reversed the result from last week’s Thailand Open and defeated Wong Choong Hann in two tight games to reach the second round, where he takes on the 7th seeded Bao Chunlai. Taufik Hidayat survived an early scare to reach the second round where he takes on Wang Zhengming of China, whilst world champion Chen Jin also survived a scare in the opening round before progressing to take on the 8th seed Park Sung Hwan.

The women’s singles continues to entertain in the early rounds, with Saina Nehwal against coming through against the 2009 world champion Lu Lan in three games to reach round 2. The second round sees an intriguing all-Chinese match between top seeded Wang Shixian and Wang Lin, the current world champion. The other two Chinese seeds progressed safely into the second round from their half of the draw, whilst Tine Baun is the main European threat in the draw and faces Sayaka Sato of Japan in her second round match.

The big shock in the mens doubles is the defeat of 3rd seeded Ko and Yoo to unseeded German pairing Kindervater and Schoettler in three games, further opening up the top half of the draw. There were more surprises as the 5th seeded Lee and Fang lost out to Indonesia’s Chandra and Gunawan, to leave the 7th seeded Chai and Guo as the lone seeds remaining in the top half of the draw. The bottom half was more straightforward for the seeds, with all 4 coming through their match in two games to reach the last 16.

The new Chinese pairing of Ma and Pan lasted just 76 minutes this week, before falling to the top seeded Maeda and Suetsuna. All England semi finalists Ropke and Damkjaer Kruse progressed in the tightest of matches, winning 23-21 in the deciding game to reach the last 16 and a match with the Chinese pairing of Tian and Zhao. There are 4 Japanese pairs into the last 16, with one all-Japanese match set for the second round as 2nd seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa take on the unseeded Misaki and Takahashi for a place in the last 8.

Denmark’s strength in the mixed doubles discipline was dealt a huge blow with all three pairings crashing out in the opening round. 5th seeded and 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl lost out to Sato and Matsuo of Japan in two games, whilst the 3rd seeded Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen lost tamely to Chen and Cheng of Chinese Taipei 21-15, 21-15 and the third pairing of Pieler Colding and Houmann faired the best of the three, but still lost out to Japanese pairing of Ikeda and Shiota. Top seeded Zhao and Zhang survived a three game match to progress into the last 16 and are joined in the top half of the draw by two other Chinese pairs of Xu and Ma as well as He and Yu.

Wednesday’s Results:

Lee Hyun Il Ousts Chen Jin

The prospects of an all-Chinese final in the men’s singles loomed large but one man has singled handedly ended any thoughts of that happening this week and will take on his 4th Chinese player of the week in the final.

Lee Hyun Il has been on court for just short of five hours in his five matches, all of which have gone the full distance of three games. Wen Kai was his first Chinese casualty, then Wang Zhengming and today was his greatest result in his 79-minute victory over the 4th seeded Chen Jin by the narrowest of margins, winning 22-20 in the deciding game and saving a match point in the process. His opponent in tomorrow’s final has had a completely different route to the final. Spending just four hours on court and without dropping a game to date, Chen Long is in a superb vain of form but there could be one last great result from Lee Hyun Il.

The all-Chinese final has happened in the women’s singles, as the first major match in what is likely to be a year-long battle for an Olympic spot. 2nd seeded Jiang Yanjiao takes on 7th seeded Li Xuerui for the title and the chance to take an early step towards London 2012 along the way. Both players have been pushed to reach the final and this will be their first match against one another in the final.

Lee and Jung’s passage into the final was never in doubt this week, no dropping games along the way in what was supposed to set up an all-Korean final. That all changed with Ko and Yoo’s defeat to 4th seeded Chandra and Gunawan in two games but this result could favour the top seeded Koreans, who hold a 3-0 record against their Indonesian opponents tomorrow whilst their record against Ko and Yoo is 3-2, with the last victory going against Lee and Jung.

Even without Wang and Yu in the field, China have managed to get an all-Chinese women’s doubles final. Tian and Zhao are used to the latter stages of these types of events but recently joined forces in a remix of the doubles pairings ahead of London. Another new pair awaits in the final in Cheng and Yixin, as the 7th seeds ended the run of Malaysia’s Woon and Hoo in straight games to reach the final.

The mixed doubles final features an Indonesian pair and a pair from Chinese Taipei in one of the most unlikely final at the start of the week. 5th seeded Lee and Chien defeated the dangerous pairing of Xu and Ma in three tight games in 59 minutes, whilst the 8th seeded Widianto and Marissa took 62 minutes to defeat the unseeded pairing of Shin and Kim in three tight games.

Semi Final Results:

Chen Jin Crushes Wong Choong Han

Thailand’s chances of success were high in the doubles events, with two top seeded pairs in the women’s and mixed doubles. There had already been big name casualties but today seen the Thailand involvement going into the week down to just one player.

From the moment that Boonsak Ponsana lost to Wang Zhengming, the Chinese domination was a real possibility this week. Chen Long and Chen Jin have both reached the last 4 with little or no resistance but have been joined in the semi finals by two Koreans. Park Sung Hwan has survived two match points and back to back three game matches but is in the last 4 and will perhaps be Chen Long’s first real test this week. Wang Zhengming was expected to go from strength to strength after his win over Boonsak Ponsana but came undone against 6th seeded Lee Hyun Il in three games to set up two China v Korea semi finals.

Saina Nehwal’s tough week finishes before the weekend, after defeating Lu Lan in the opening round it was another Chinese player that ended the Indian’s run in 7th seeded Li Xuerui. The 21-13, 21-12 scoreline is perhaps down not a fair representation of the match as a whole but the Li Xuerui will be happy not to have played another three game match before the weekend. Thailand’s hopes now rest on the 4th seeded Porntip Buranaprasertsuk who has reached the semi final without the loss of a game to date, she will take on Li Xuerui for a place in Sunday’s final. One Chinese player who wanted a Saina Nehwal victory was the 2nd seeded Jiang Yanjiao who will likely be battling against Li Xuerui for a place in the Olympic squad next year. The Chinese player came through a tight three game match against Juliane Schenk to set up her semi final against 6th seeded Cheng Shao Chieh of Chinese Taipei, who defeated the 3rd seeded Bae Youn Joo to reach the last 4.

The Korean top seeds of Lee and Jung have been flawless to date, winning all three matches in just two games. Their opponent in the semi final are the 8th seeded American pair of Bach and Gunawan, who defeated the 3rd seeded Fang and Lee in two games to reach the last 4. Ko and Yoo have struggled through to the last 4, needing three games in both their last two games to set up their semi final against Chandra and Gunawan of Indonesia who defeated the 5th seeded Chai and Guo of China in two tight games.

The unlikely story in the women’s doubles is the Malaysian pair of Hoo and Woon who have progressed into the semi finals in their first major tournament together. Their semi final match will be their greatest test as a partnership against the 7th seeded Chinese pairing of Cheng and Yixin, who have failed to drop a game to date this week. There is Chinese interest in the other semi final in Tian and Zhao, the 5th seeds. Their opponents in the semi final are the Hong Kong pairing of Poon and Tse, who are no strangers to the biggest stage.

The mixed doubles was Thailand’s best chance at a title this week, but within just 2 and a half hours of play that dream was gone. Xu and Ma taking out the 2nd seeded Anugritaywon and Voravichitckaikul in the opening match of the day in two games, then the top seeded Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam lost to Widianto and Marissa of Indonesia in just 27 minutes to end Thailand’s chances. The 8th seeded Indonesian’s reward is a semi final against Kim and Shin who defeated their seeded team-mates, Lee and Ha in two tight games to reach the semi finals. Xu and Ma take on the 4th seeded pair of Lee and Chien, who defeated the Korean pair of Cho and Kim 21-17, 29-27.

Friday’s Results:

Ponsana Falls to Wang

The big local hope for singles success, Boonsak Ponsana came undone at the third round to Wang Zhengming as China threatens to take a massive part in determining the winner in the men’s singles.

Top seeded Chen Long continued on his seamlessly destined route to the final with another two game victory, this time over France’s 13th seeded Brice Leverdez. His main threat in the top half of the draw almost came undone against Mohammed Hafiz Hashim, with 3rd seed Park Sung Hwan saving two match points before coming through 25-23 in the deciding game. Wang Zhengming defeated the 2nd seeded Boonsak Ponsana in three games to end the local interest in the men’s singles, allowing a double chance of a Chinese player coming through the bottom half of the draw. The other Chinese player through to the last 8 is Chen Jin, who defeated Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto in three games to book his place in the quarter finals.

With the amount of talent that Korea and Chinese continually put into the women’s singles draw, the most unlikely of outcomes is usually seeing all eight seeds make it through the quarter finals. Today was one such day with all eight seeds coming through their second round matches, with 7th seeded Li Xuerui and top seeded Saina Nehwal being the only two seeds needing three games to progress into the last 8. Their rewards for their victories is a match against each other for a place in the last 4.

The men’s doubles begun today, with a double dose of action awaiting first round winners. The week is definitely one for the seeds as 7 of the 8 seeds made it through to the quarter finals, with only the 6th seeded Cho and Kwon of Korea crashing out to Goh and Lim of Malaysia who made it through to the last 8. The women’s doubles couldn’t have started much worse for the local fans who arrived early on Friday as top seeds Voravichitchaikul and Aroonkesorn crashed out in the opening match of the day to Hoo and Woon of Malaysia in three games. In fact the women’s doubles has been a mass of shock results, with only the two Chinese seeds of Tian and Zhao as well as Cheng and Yixin making in through to the last 8.

The two top seeded Thai pairs survived their second round matches but face their toughest tasks in the quarter finals. 2nd seeded Anugritayawon and Voravichitchaikul take on the dangerous Chinese pairing and 5th seeded Xu and Ma in the last 8 whilst the top seeded Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam game on the 8th seeded Widianto and Marissa. Three of the remaining four pairs come from Korea and the main threat this week comes from the 7th seeded Lee and Ha, who defeated the unseeded Chinese pairing of Qiu and Yixin to reach the last 8. They take on Shin and Kim in an all-Korean quarter final.

Friday’s Results:

Chen Long Breezes Through

It was a mixed day for the seeds in Bangkok, with several crashing out early on the opening day of play. One seed came through a tough encounter to prove her credentials at the highest level.

Chen Long’s progression to the last 16 was a shift as could be with a pair of victories setting up a third round match with Brice Leverdez of France who battled through a pair of tough matches to make the last 16. Park Sung Hwan also progressed safely in the top half of the draw and takes on Muhammed Hafiz Hashim, who defeated Joachim Persson to reach the third round. The bottom half is laden with Chinese players, with 3 of the 8 coming from China. Chen Jin and Wang Zhengming are joined by Wen Kai, who was the most impressive of the Chinese players in reaching the last 16. The top seed in this side of the draw is local favourite Boonsak Ponsana, who progressed into the last 16 without the loss of a game but faces the 10th seeded Wang Zhengming in his toughest match to date this week.

It might have taken 59 minutes, but Saina Nehwal remains in the draw after defeating Lu Lan in a titanic three game encounter. The opening round seen all 8 seeds progress with varying difficulty, most notably 8th seeded Sung Ji Hyun defeating China’s Wang Lin as she continues her return to top flight action. Jie Yao and Pi Hongyan also progressed into the last 16 to add more quality to the field, with both taking on seeds in their second round matches.

The mixed doubles seen the top two seeds progress safely into the second round, much to the delight of the home crowd. Both Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam as well as Anugritayawon and Voravichitchaikul won their matches without the loss of a game to reach the last 16. 3rd seeded Fuchs and Michels of Germany were also impressive in their 21-5, 21-9 victory, as were the 5th seeds of Xu and Ma in their 21-8, 21-14 defeat of Kwon and Kim of Korea.

Day 1 Results:

Can Gade Stand Up To Lin Dan?

Few expected the lone European nation in the last 8 to reach the final against the home nation of China. Their 3-1 victory over Indonesia was done again without the help of the #1 pair in the world for men’s doubles, as Boe and Mogensen succumbed to another defeat this week.

The first semi final seen the host nation take on Korea, the nation that defeated China in last year’s Uber Cup. The first match set the tone for the entire semi final as Xu and Ma took on Ko and Ha in a brutal 71 minute encounter that Korea had four chances to win the match and failed to deliver. The Chinese pairing had just one in the deciding game and took their opportunity to steal the victory from the Korean’s and but China 1-0 up.

Lin Dan doubled the host nations advantage with a convincing 21-16, 21-10 victory to put China within one match of the final. Cai and Fu took on their rivals Lee and Jung for the 13th time, with the head to head being level at 6-6. Lee and Jung had won the previous two matches and made it a third consecutive victory over Cai and Fu in their 62 minute encounter to pull the tie back to 2-1. Wang Shixian was given the chance to redeem herself after her opening match loss to Juliane Schenk in the 4th match of the tie, against Bae Youn Joo. It took 50 minutes but the Chinese were through the the final with Wang Shixian’s two game victory securing the 3-1 victory for China.

The second semi final started almost exactly the way of the first semi final, with the opening mixed doubles match going all the way to a third and deciding game. Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen were dominant in the decider and took the opening match for the Danes in a 63 minute match against Teng and Bernadeth. Peter Gade doubled the advantage with a tight two game victory over Simon Santoso, winning 21-18, 21-16 in 44 minutes.

The Danish pair of Boe and Mogensen have been the weak link this week, losing both of their matches to date. They had a third chance to win this week against the pair of Chandra and Ahsan but again struggled to produce any of the form that made them into the top partnership in the world and tamely lost 23-21, 21-17 to cut Indonesian deficit in half. It was left to Tine Baun to clinch a place in the final against Adriyanti Firdasari, their first meeting in almost two years. Tine Baun duely delivered a superb performance to win 21-13, 21-13 to book Denmark’s place in the final.

Tomorrow’s final will be won and lost with the men’s events. Can Boe and Mogensen regain any sort of form to defeat Cai and Fu in the men’s doubles? Can Peter Gade roll back the years and defeat Lin Dan for only the 4th time in their 16th meeting? Tine Baun will undoubtably needed to defeat one of the Chinese women in the singles if Denmark have any chance of winning the final. The Chinese are almost certain of winning the women’s doubles should Wang and Yu play. Meaning they only have to win 2 of the other 4 events to retain the Sudirman.

Semi Final Results:

Saina Wins, But India Falls To China

The host nation progressed into the semi final stage of the Sudirman Cup, whilst there was a surprise in the second quarter final as Korea defeated a Malaysian team that broke up the best men’s doubles partnership in the world to try and win two matches and defeat the Koreans.

Koo and Chin took on the Korean pair of Ko and Ha in the opening mixed doubles match in what looked like a calculated risk by Malaysia to win the opening match of the quarter final. However the Korean’s were too strong and took an early 1-0 lead in the rubber, winning 21-17, 21-17. Lee Chong Wei evened the score back up at 1-1 with a two game victory over Park Sung Hwan and then took a 2-1 lead as Tan partnered Hoon in an impressive three game victory over Lee and Jung to put Malaysia within one match of the semi finals.

Bae Youn Joo had other ideas, as she leveled the rubber at 2-2 with a two game victory over Tee Jing Yi. That left it up to Ha and Kim of Korea and Chin and Wong of Malaysia to ensure victory for their nation. They both exchanged a game each, leaving it down to a one game decider to clinch a place in the last 4 and it was the Korean’s who progressed with Ha and Kim winning the deciding game 21-10 to reach the last 4.

China were overwhelmingly expected to progress in their match over India, even if Saina Newhal was to beat one of the Chinese girls in the singles. They started perfectly with Cai and Fu winning the opening match in less than 30 minutes, but Wang Xin came undone against Saina Newhal and tamely lost in two games to the Indian to tie the rubber at 1-1. This was China’s second defeat in the women’s singles with Wang Shixian losing to Juliane Schenk in the group stage.

Lin Dan was quick to put China back in front with a two game victory and it was left to the doubles partnership of Wang and Yu to clinch the rubber for China, a partnership that had never lost to a non-Chinese pairing to date. Their 21-8, 21-13 victory was an expected victory as the host nation progressed into the semi final against Korea on Saturday.

Question marks over China’s women’s singles will buoy Korea’s chances in the semi final, with Korea defeating China in the Uber Cup final in 2010. Cai and Fu take on Lee and Jung again in what could be a deciding match on who progresses into Sunday’s final or it could be the mixed doubles match that decides this rubber.

Sudirman Cup 2011 Day 1

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

Thursday’s Results:

Chong Wei Through Smoothly In Malaysia

There was a double surprise in the quarter finals as Wang Lin and Jiang Yanjiao both crashed out of the women’s singles, whilst the Malaysian superstars progressed safely into the semi finals.

Lee Chong Wei is into the last 4 with a two game victory over Brice Leverdez and takes on the 11th seeded Sho Sasaki in the semi finals tomorrow after the Japanese player defeated Park Sung Hwan in is quarter final matchup. The other semi final is between the 7th seeded Bao Chunlai and Tien Minh Nguyen, seeded 3 who had mixed routes on route to the semi final. Tien Minh Nguyen won by walkover with Sony Dwi Kuncoro’s retiring early into the second game whilst Bao Chunlai defeated Lee Hyun Il in three games to reach the last 4.

Top seeded Saina Nehwal defeated Wang Lin in a tight three game match to reclaim her credentials as one of the best players in the world and her reward for her victory is a match against Sung Ji Hyun who defeated the 3rd seeded Jiang Yanjiao in the second surprise result in the top half of the draw. There is Chinese involvement in the bottom half of the draw in the 2nd seeded Wang Xin after her victory over Ai Goto in the quarter final. Wang Xin’s opponent in the semi final is the 4th seeded Bae Youn Joo who has been in excellent form this week and not dropping a game to date this week.

Bosch and Ridder have been the story of the men’s doubles but faces their toughest challenge against the top seeded Koo and Tan in the semi final. The Dutch pair defeated the 3rd seeded Ahsan and Septano to reach the semis whilst Koo and Tan defeated the 6th seeded Endo and Hayakawa in three games to reach the last 4. The other semi final is an all-seeded encounter between the 4th seeded Chandra and Gunawan who play the 8th seeded Cho and Kwon. The 4th seeds have made a difficult task of reaching the last 4, with a couple of three game matches to reach this stage.

Maeda and Suetsuna have been the class act in the women’s doubles this week and take on the the 4th seeded Jauhari and Polii and there is Japanese interest in the second semi final with 5th seeded Matsuo and Naito against the unseeded Chinese pairing of Ying and Yu who fought through another three game match to reach the last 4.

There was another local success as 6th seed Chan and Goh defeated the top seeded Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam to reach the semi finals this week, where they will take on the 3rd seeded Kurniawan and Bernadeth in their semi final match. The other semi final is between the 4th seeded Ahmad and Natsir who take on the 2nd seed Anugritayawon and Voravichitchaikul of Thailand who have been in excellent form since being taken to three games in their opening round match.

Quarter Final Results:

Lee Chong Wei Set To Play Peter Gade

The devoid of talent this week has been the subplot of a week of surprises, but there has been one outstanding constant within the week and that has been the play of Lee Chong Wei. His semi final today was another match that he was a class apart from his opponent, this time being Hu Yun of Hong Kong. Even the 8th seed had no answer for the Malaysian’s form this week as Lee Chong Wei won 21-11, 21-15 in just 28 minutes.

His opponent in tomorrow’s final will be Peter Gade, after he came through his semi final with Park Sung Hwan in two games, albeit a tighter match than the top seeds. His 21-15, 21-19 victory came in 45 minutes but Gade himself has been in excellent form this week in the loss of just one game to Kazushi Yamada in the first round.

The women’s singles featured another seed crashing out, with Yip Pui Yin tamely losing to Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk 21-13, 21-8. Bae Youn Joo however had better success than her seeded counterpart in her semi final victory over Sayaka Sato in three games. The 63 minute match was the longest of the tournament for the Korean but has spent less time on court than her opponent tomorrow who survived two early round scares to reach the final.

It was a double shock in the men’s doubles, with Hashimoto and Hirata defeating the top seeded pair of Koo and Tan in their semi final and also the unseeded Saputra and Pratama’s win over the 3rd seeded Chandra and Gunawan to set up the most unlikeliest of finals at the start of the day. The women’s doubles final however, is an all more expected story with the top two seeds both from Japan reaching the final with only the 2nd seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa being tested by Poon and Tse of Hong Kong in their semi final matchups, eventually winning in three games.

An all-Indonesian final was all but assured in the mixed doubles, with Chan and Goh failing to regain the form that got them to this stage. The 5th seeded Malaysian lost out to Kurniawan and Bernadeth in two games, with the 3rd seeds winning 21-12, 21-16. The other all-Indonesian semi final was slightly anti-climatical with the 7th seeded Rijal and Susanto having to retire deep into the second game, however the pair were already a game and 15-9 down to the 4th seeded Ahmad and Natsir, who go through to the final.

Day 4 Results:

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