The mixed doubles offers the best chance of a European medal at the Olympics, with even a gold medal being discussed for several European pairs inside the world’s top 16. There is also the undeniable Chinese threat from the top two pairs in the world, with countless Asian threats also looking to claim a medal in London.
The current world number 1 and world champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei will be the favourites in London – where they claimed the World Championship almost a year ago in the same arena as the one being used for the Olympics. However, there are question marks over their credentials going into the Olympics with two losses against the pair they defeated in the 2011 World Championship final, Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier. Both defeats came at the Super Series Premier Events, where they also crashed out of the Indonesia Super Series Premier to Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam.
The current world number 2 pairing of Xu Chen and Ma Jin have had their own struggles this year also. Since their victory in Korea in early January, they have failed to win a title after defeats in the All England by Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl, followed up by defeat in Indonesia by Tantowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir – who are currently ranked 3rd in the world.
The European threat will be a trio of pairings looking to keep at least one gold medal in Europe, with the highest ranked pair of Joachim Fischer Neilsen and Christinna Pedersen being Europe’s best hope in the event. Currently ranked 4th in the world, their last title was the French Super Series title over 9 months ago and their records against the rest of the Olympic field is far from stellar. Only a 4-2 head to head over the current world number 1 pairing of Zhang and Zhao offers any kind of optimism, but even then the last two victories have been for the Chinese pair.
The 2009 World Champions, Laybourn and Rytter Juhl are the second Danish pair hoping to claim a medal next week but that will be unlikely with only the German GP Gold title to their name this year. With both Danish male players well into their 30′s, this will be both their final chance at Olympic success.
The bright new hope for European badminton is the British pairing of Adcock and Bankier, fueled by their silver medal in London in 2011 at the World Championships. Every single Super Series Premier this year has seen them take on the world number 1 pairing of Zhang and Zhao, winning the head to head 2-1 and only enhancing their belief of going one better in London this year. Their only title this year has came in Finland but their run of victories was good enough to earn qualification over Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork as well as reaching the top 10 in the world rankings.
Who Are The Favourites?
There is no real favourite, which is why the event will be so competitive. Cheng and Chen of Chinese Taipei won the most recent Super Series event in Singapore, whilst Ahmad and Natsir took the prestigious All England title. There will be a threat from the 3 European pairs, whilst the Chinese pairs will both come expecting a medal. Under the radar however, is the Korean pair of Lee Yong Dae and Ha Jung Eun who are ranked 7th in the world. Lee Yong Dae is the current holder of the mixed doubles title from Beijing and whilst their run into the top 10 has been impressive, it has been without a single title being won.
Who Could Surprise?
The current European champions, Robert Mateusiak and Nadiezda Zieba were formerly world number 1′s and have claimed the Dutch and European title in the run up to the Olympics. Expect another strong showing from Adcock and Bankier also, regardless of their previous run of results. They had little to no expectations or form going into the 2011 World Championships and they are a pair that will thrive inside Wembley Arena with a partizan home crowd.
Marc Zwiebler claimed the European title against an unlikely opponent in Henri Hurskainen whilst two other potential German titles were undone by their Danish opponents on finals day.
Marc Zwiebler needed to defeat just a single Danish player on route to his European title, with Axelsen and Gade both falling to his opponent in the final Henri Hurskainen. His victory over Jan O Jorgensen was the catalyst for his success this week and had little trouble in defeating his Swedish opponent in his most one-sided victory over the week, winning 21-15, 21-13.
Tine Baun repeated her success over Juliane Schenk from two years in the longest match of the day, with the top seeded Dane taking the title in 68 minutes winning 21-19, 16-21, 21-19. There was another Danish success over Germany in the men’s doubles final, with Boe and Mogensen defeating Fuchs and Roth in a very one-sided final with the Danes winning 21-11, 21-11 in just 34 minutes. The all-Danish final in the women’s doubles was won by the top seeded Pedersen and Rytter Juhl defeating the 3rd seeded Damkjaer Cruse and Roepke in two games, but needing 5 chances to claim the second game.
Mateusiak and Zieba Take Mixed Title
The Polish pair came into this week on top form after taking the Dutch title, but few people expected them to repeat their success in Karlskrona. After defeating the top seeded Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen in the quarter finals and a victory over Adcock and Bankier at the semi final stage they had little trouble in defeating Pieler Colding and Houmann to claim the European title in to games, winning 21-11, 24-22.
Henri Hurskainen’s victory over Peter Gade could have been deemed a fluke result over an legend in his final year of competition, but in his last two matches he has defeated Peter Gade and the future of Danish badminton, Viktor Axelsen.
Hurskainen Takes On Zwiebler
There is always usually a standout performance from a pair or person playing in from of his home crowd. Adcock and Bankier’s performance at the 2011 Worlds was made possible in front of a partizan London auidence. Hurskainen’s last two performances have seen him play above and beyond his world ranking of 57 to claim two incredible victories just 3 months ahead of the Olympics. His three-game victory over Axelsen has seen him progress to his first European final, where he takes on Germany’s Marc Zwiebler.
Zwiebler fell at the semi final stage in 2010, losing in three games to Peter Gade but his impressive two game victory over Jan O Jorgensen ensures that he reached the final without the loss of a game and that the European title wouldn’t be returning to Denmark for the first time since 1990.
Danish Presence In Four Finals
Whilst the clean sweep of golds is no longer an option, Denmark have secured at least one gold in the women’s doubles final. Tine Baun takes on Juliane Schenk in a rematch of their 2010 final in Manchester, with the top seeded Baun defeating Linda Zechiri to reach the final whilst the second seeded Schenk was impressive in her 21-13, 21-10 victory over Jie Yao to ensure the German like Zwiebler, reached the final without the loss of a game.
Boe and Mogensen will hope to go one better than 2010 as they take on Fuchs and Roth in the men’s doubles final. The top seeded defeated Adcock and Ellis to reach the final whilst their German opponents ended any chance of an all-Danish final with their victory over Bonde and Kristiansen in a three game, 62-minute semi final. Their previous and only meeting was over two years ago, with the Danes taking the match in three games.
Pedersen and Rytter Juhl take on their team mates Damkjaer Kruse and Roepke in the women’s doubles final, with the 3rd seeds ending the run of the 2010 winners Vislova and Sorokina in three games. The top seeds needed just two games and half the time to defeat Michels and Marinello of Germany to ensure their place in the final with the loss of just 96 points to date this week.
The mixed doubles final features the 2010 runners-up Mateusiak and Zieba taking on the Danish pair of Pielder Colding and Houmann. Both pairs needed three games to defeat their higher seeded opponents, with the 7th seeded Poles defeating the 4th seeded Adcock and Bankier whilst the 8th seeds defeated their team mates and 2010 winners Laybourn and Rytter Juhl who were seeded 2nd this week. Their only meeting came at the 2011 World Championships, which the Polish pair won in three games.
Eric Pang was the biggest casualty today as the top seed in the men’s singles crashed out to India’s Anand Pawar.
Pawar Surges Into Final
After defeating Pang in his quarter final, Pawar then defeated the 3rd seeded Sri Lankan Niluka Karunaratne to book his place in the final against Andre Kurniawan Tedjono, who defeated the 4th seeded Dicky Palyama to ensure a double disappointment for the home fans.
Jie Yao is one of three potential Dutch winners on finals day, after victories over Simone Prutsch and Elizabeth Cann in her two matches today to ensure her place in the final against Sonia Su Ya Cheah of Malaysia. The unseeded player defeated the 4th seeded Schnaase in her quarter final and then beat Michelle Chan Ky, seeded 2 this week to reach the final.
One Doubles Title Assured
De Ruiter and Khodabux take on their own Malaysian opponent in the men’s doubles final, taking on Heg and Teo who are ranked 42 places below them in the world rankings. The Malaysian pair have already defeated the 2nd seeded Bosch and Ridder this week as well as the English pairing of Ellis and Langridge to reach the final.
One title is assured in the women’s doubles, with top seeded Van Dooremalen and Jonathans taking on the 3rd seeded Piek and Tabelling in an all-Dutch final. Only the top seeded pair have dropped a game this week in their semi final against Muskens and Peters to set up the first meeting between the pairs in international competition.
Mateusiak and Zieba are safely into the mixed doubles final and take on a Russian pair ranked almost 250 players lower than them in the world rankings. Ashmarin and Panushkina have dropped a single game on route to the final and survived a match point to ensure their place in the final. The top seeds Poles have been clinical in their route to the final, conceding double digits in just one of their six games to date.
Lin Dan ‘s withdrawal for the second week running has undermined the men’s singles draw, this week Chen Jin withdrew from his quarterfinal match against Lee Chong Wei, robbing the crowd of one of the best matches of the week. Tien Minh Nguyen is the main beneficiary of Lin Dan’s withdrawal with a free pass into the last 4.
Chen Long seems to be the only Chinese player that isn’t withdrawing and has progressed to the last 4 with a three game victory over Korean Lee Hyun Il, there was a second Korean defeat in the other quarter final as Taufik Hidayat defeated Park Sung Hwan in two games to set up the second semi final with Chen Long.
Jiang Yanjiao’s surprise defeat to Juliane Schenk will fuel the belief that the Chinese women are not unbeatable, the three game victory guarantees a non-Chinese player in the women’s singles final. Saina Nehwal takes on the 6th seeded Schenk after her two game win over Yip Pui Yin in her quarter final. The top half sees an all-Chinese semi final with Wang Xin and Wang Shixian, who both won comfortably in their respective quarter finals, with top seeded Wang Xin defeating the 5th seeded Pi Hongyan in just 29 minutes.
Lee and Jung have defeated Cai and Fu for the second week running, this time in just two games and have set up a semi final match against Kido and Setiawan, whose all-Indonesian quarterfinal didn’t happen after Gunawan and Chandra’s withdrawal. Ko and Yoo defeated Ahsan and Septano to end their excellent run in the event. Bach and Gunawan’s run in the event continues, after an impressive two game win over Chai and Guo to book their place in the last 4.
Wang and Yu may not have been seeded, but they are playing like a top 8 pair with another impressive two game win to book their place in the last 4 where they will play Pan and Tian, the 5th seeds. The other semi final sees the top two seeds from the top half take on each other, with Chien and Cheng the top seeds taking on Vislova and Sorokina, seeded 3.
Mateusiak and Zieba produced an excellent performance yesterday to make the last 8, but couldn’t match it today as they lost out to the 6th seeded Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen of Denmark in two games. The Danes take on the Chinese wildcards of Xu and Yu who have never been this far together as a partnership since losing in the final of the China Masters in September. The other semi final sees last weeks beaten finalists Zhao and Zhang take on the 8th seeded Lee and Chien of Chinese Taipei with both pairings coming through in three games from their quarter final matches.
Some of the top seeded players were give a real test in the early rounds, with most of the seeds defeating their opponents to bolster their credentials. Boonsak Ponsana was the biggest casualty in the men’s singles, losing to Park Sung Hwan in three games and the Korean set up a quarter final clash with Taufik Hidayat.
The 2010 Commonwealth Games champion, Lee Chong Wei takes on the 2010 world champion Chen Jin in the first of tomorrow’s quarter finals with the winner taking on the winner of the second of the quarter final. 4th seeded Lin Dan takes on the 8th seed Tien Minh Nguyen in the second quarter final. Chen Long is the only other seed in the bottom half of the draw and takes on the Korean qualifier Lee Hyun Il.
The women’s singles has 6 of it’s 8 seeds remaining in the draw, with Inthanon Ratchanok continuing her excellent run of form to reach the last 8. Yip Pui Yin is the second unseeded player in the draw, defeating the 7th seed Bae Yong Joo in two games and her reward is a quarter final matchup against the 2nd seeded Saina Nehwal. The top 3 Chinese seeds are also safely into the quarter finals, with top seeded Wang Xin, 3rd seeded Wang Shixian and 4th seeded Jiang Yanjiao all progressing from the second round with two game victories.
The top seeded Koo and Tan crashed out to Indonesians Ahsan and Septano in three games to further open up the top half of the men’s doubles draw. Bach and Gunawan continue their excellent run and will meet another unseeded pair in the last 8 in the Chinese partnership of Chai and Guo. Cai and Fu will meet Lee and Jung for the second time in two weeks in the quarter final stage and the last of the quarter finals is an all-Indonesian affair between the 2nd seeded Kido and Setiawan and the 7th seeded Chandra and Gunawan.
Wang and Yu defeated the second seeded Chinese pair of Cheng and Zhao to book their place in the last 8, whilst the Danish pair of Pedersen and Rytter Juhl further opened up the women’s doubles draw with their win over Jauhari and Polii, the 4th seeds from Indonesia. Top seeded Cheng and Chien and 3rd seeded Vislova and Sorokina put their early exits in China behind them to reach the last 8 this week.
Zieba and Mateusiak proved their credentials as top seeds with an excellent three game win over Tian and Jiaming and set up a quarter final clash against 6th seeded Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen of Denmark. Zhang and Zhao are one of only 4 seeds remaining in the draw and take on the Korean pair of Ko and Ha, who defeated another Chinese pair touted to do well this week in He and Ma.
The recent decision from the Chinese to try out new partnerships has caused havoc throughout the three doubles events, leading to some of the top players in the world going into tournaments unseeded. Yu and Wang in the women’s doubles are used to being seeded in the top 3 of the event but fine themselves in the lottery of the unseeded players in who they match up with in the opening round.
The men’s singles does offer some sense of normality, with all of the 7 seeds progressing into the second round. Lin Dan safely disposed of Jan O Jorgensen in the opening round in two games, whilst 6th seeded Boonsak Ponsana narrowed scraped through against Chinese qualifier Wen Kai in three games. Lee Chong Wei and Chen Jin are still on route to meet in the last 8, with both coming through their first round matches in two games. Taufik Hidayat is also through to round 2 after an impressive win over Du Pengyu in his first match of the week.
The ladies singles was also a similar story, with all the seeds progressing except the 8th seed Ella Diehl who suffered her second opening round defeat in two weeks, this time losing out to Inthanon Ratchanok of Indonesia in three games. The fall of last year’s world champion Lu Lan has never been more evident than over the past two weeks, losing to Inthanon Ratchanok in China last week and this week a first round exit to Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in two games, who will now take on top seed Wang Xin in the second round. Saina Nehwal returned to Super Series action with a comfortable two game win and will have a much harder test in Round 2 against Salakjit Ponsana.
Lee and Fang, seeded 4 crashed out to the 2005 world champions, Bach and Gunawan in their opening round matchup in two games but were not the only seed to crash out in the opening round. Another Chinese Taipei pair, Chen and Lin also lost in the first round. Chai and Guo of China defeating the 8th seeds in two games to book their place in the second round. There was little trouble for the top seeds in the men’s doubles, #1 seeds Koo and Tan progressed easily with a two game victory and the 2nd seeded Kido and Setiawan joined the top seeds in the second round with their own two game victory.
Only 6 seeds progressed in the women’s singles, with the 8th seeded Ha and Jung as well as 7th seeded Zhang and Zhang crashed out in the first round. The match of the day tomorrow will undoubtably be the second round match between Zhao and Cheng who take on the unseeded Chinese pair of Wang and Yu as this match could easily be a matchup in a final in 2011 should the two partnerships stick together into next year.
Half of the seeds in the mixed doubles lost in their opening round matchups, some due to new Chinese partnerships whilst others were disappointing performances from the higher ranked partnership. 4th seeded Robertson and Wallwork crashed out to Yoo and Kim of Korea in three games, 7th seeded Voravichitchaikul and Anugritayawon of Thailand lost out to the new Chinese pairing of Xu and Yu in a tight three game match. 3rd seeded Thoungthongkam and Prapakamol were defeated in impressive fashion by He and Ma of Chinese and the 2nd seeded Marissa and Gunawan lost to Malaysians Chan and Goh in three games. The top seeded Mateusiak and Zieba take on last weeks winning pair Jiaming and Tian in their second round match to test their title credentials tomorrow.
Many of the top ranked players that opted out of the Chinese Super Series have returned this week in Hong Kong. All except Peter Gade who has withdrawn again pre-event with a back problem that has forced him out of three of the last four Super Series.
Lee Chong Wei returns as the top seed in the men’s singles and takes on Christian Lind Thomsen in his opening round matchup. Taufik Hidayat is seeded 3 for the event but will be the main rival to the Malaysian, his campaign begins against last week’s semi finalist Du Pengyu. As if the strength of the men’s event needed more proof, Lin Dan’s opening round matchup will be one of the best matches of the week as he takes on Jan O Jorgensen, who was seeded 7th last week in China. Last week’s winner Chen Long is seeded 7th this week and takes on European Championship semi finalist and world #13, Marc Zwiebler.
Saina Newhal returns to Super Series action after her Commonwealth Games success in October and comes into the event as the 2nd seed to break up the Chinese monopoly of the top seeds in the women’s singles. There is no Wang Yihan this week, but the Chinese are well represented with top seed Wang Xin and last week’s finalists, Wang Shixian and Jiang Yanjiao. Ella Diehl will hope to put her first round defeat behind her this week, she is seeded 8th this week.
The men’s doubles has a full compliment of potential winners apart from Boe and Mogensen. However, the top seeds with Koo and Tan are still on a high from their Commonwealth Games success and take on a new Danish partnership of Rasmussen and Conrads-Petersen. Kido and Setiawan also start against a Danish pair, Kristiansen and Bonde. Last week’s winners, Lee and Jung take on the Chinese pair of Shen and Hong.
3rd seeded Vislova and Sorokina were another pair who suffered an early loss last week in China, but are looking to put their surprise opening round defeat behind them and start against Thoungthongkam and Nurlita. Top seeds Chien and Cheng start with an opening round bye, before taking on the winner of Yung/Mei against Lee/Obanana. Last week’s winners Cheng and Zhao are the 2nd seeds and start with an opening round match against Chen and Yueng of Hong Kong.
Top seeds in the mixed doubles, Zieba and Mateusiak start against Fang and Wang of Chinese Taipei after their 2nd round loss last week to He and Ma of China. The Chinese pairing take on another seed early on in Hong Kong, taking on the 3rd seeded Thoungthongkam and Prapakamol of Thailand in the opening round. 2nd seeded Gunawan and Marissa take on the Malaysian pair of Chan and Goh in their opening round matchup.
The Chinese events are always predominantly made up of home players and most of the mainstays of the Super Series tour, but even so the Chinese success on Day 1 should not be underestimated. Only the retirement of Wang Xiaoli in her opening round Women’s Doubles with Yu Yang will be considered a disappointment on a day dominated by the home nation.
Wang Xin got the day off to the perfect start with a 2 game victory to progress into Round 2, the other seeds progressed without much resistance as Wang Shixian progressed from a potentially harder match against Yip Pui Yin. Wang Yihan and Jiang Yanjiao also reached the last 16 and by the end of play, China had no less than 9 players into the last 16 of the women’s singles. 2009 World Champion Lu Lan is one of the nine through after defeating the 8th seeded Ella Diehl in two games to further boosts China’s compliment in the second round.
The men’s singles can also boast a similar story, with 8 of the last 16 players being from the home nation. The noticeable names in the second round are all potential winners of this event, Bao Chunlai received a first round bye, current world champion Chen Jin progressed with ease and the highest seed in the draw Lin Dan defeated Zhou Wenlong in an all-Chinese first round encounter. 5th seeded Chen Long is also through to the last 16 as well as relative unknowns such as Sheng Zhang, Lu Yi and Bin Qiao but the 8th Chinese player left in the draw, Du Pengyu defeated the 4th seeded Boonsak Ponsana to reach the second round.
Robert Blair’s trek from Glasgow has been a successful one as he and partner Flandy Limpele reached the second round today but face the big Chinese threat in the draw in round 2, Cai and Fu. The 5th seeded Chinese pair had little trouble being the 2005 world champions Bach and Gunawan in their opening round match. 4th seeded Lee and Jung also made a successful start to their campaign with a two game victory whilst the top seeded Boe and Mogensen received the only opening round bye. Commonwealth Games champions and 2nd seeded Koo and Tan are also safely into the second round with a two game opening round victory.
Yu and Ying were the big winners in the women’s doubles as they toppled the 3rd seeded Vislova and Sorokina in their opening round encounter and boosts the number of Chinese pairs in the bottom half of the draw to 5 out of a possible 8. With the top two receiving byes, the Russian 3rd seeds were the highest seed playing today. Ma and Zhong have made a successful start to their campaign by take on the Macau pairing of Zhang and Zhang, seeded 7th in the event.
Ma Jin’s success also spread to the mixed doubles, as her and partner He Hanbin set up a second round match with the 2nd seeded Mateusiak and Zieba with both winning in two games in their opening round matches. Yu Yang didn’t let her women’s doubles disappointment stop her reaching the second round of the mixed, as she and partner Xu Chen take on Jiaming Tao and Tian Qing in the second round tomorrow to guarantee one Chinese pair into the last 8.