It was a day of shocks in Singapore with the men’s singles draw losing three seeds in the opening round, most notably the top seeded Sho Sasaki losing to Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen.
Sasaki, Hidayat and Du Pengyu Out
Long before Sasaki’s loss to Axelsen, the 5th seeded Du Pengyu had crashed out to the on-form Sony Dwi Kuncoro in a one-sided match and was followed in the very next match on court by Wei Feng Chong defeating the 7th seeded Taufik Hidayat in a tighter two game loss then the previous match. The big shock was the victory of Viktor Axelsen over Sho Sasaki in three games, the 49-minute match saw Axelsen ease into a one game lead before letting the second game slip but claimed the victory in a 21-10, 15-21, 21-12 victory to set up a second round match against Anand Pawar of India.
Juliane Schenk is the highest seed in the women’s singles this week and started off with a two game victory over Salakjit Ponsana. The next two highest seeds players are the 3rd seeded Sung Ji Hyun whose two game victory set up a second round match against Fu Mingtian of Singapore. Cheng Shao Chieh is the highest seed in the top half of the draw and takes on Chen Jiayuan who defeated Jie Yao to book her place in the second round.
A Near Full Compliment Of Seeds Remain
Apart from the pre-event withdrawals, every seed has safely progressed except 1 is into the last 16. Ko and Yoo are the the highest seeds in the men’s doubles after Lee and Jung pulled out before the event and safely reached the last 16, defeating Smith and Warfe of Australia in two games. Their biggest threat from the top half of the draw will be the Indonesian pairing of Kido and Setiawan, the 4th seeds defeated the Austrian pairing of Koch and Zauner to reach the 2nd round.
All eight seeds are into the last 16 of the women’s doubles, with several pairs receiving opening round byes. Sari and Yao are the big local hope this week, but the 7th seeds needed three games to reach the last 16. The mixed doubles are without the top seeds and 5th seeds this week after both withdraw pre-event. The only doubles seed to fall is the 8th seeded Rijal and Susanto of Indonesia, who were defeated by Yoo and Jang of Korea.
With less than two months to the opening match of the Olympics, the respective governing bodies have chosen their players to take part in the 2012 Games.
The men’s singles draw will consist of 40 players, with a group stage being introduced for the first time at the Olympics. The draw will consist of 16 groups, with the top 8 players getting a group of just 2 players whilst the 9-16 seeds will be in a group of 3.
1. Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia)
2. Lin Dan (China)
3. Chen Long (China)
4. Chen Jin (China)
5. Peter Gade (Denmark)
6. Sho Sasaki (Japan)
7. Lee Hyun Il (Korea)
8. Kenichi Tago (Japan)
Chen Jin only qualified for the Olympics a mere 4 days before the qualification period ended, with China taking 3 of the top 4 places. Lee Chong Wei’s injury to his ankle at the Thomas Cup puts his presence in the competition at risk, with the Malaysian team claiming that the world number 1 will be out for just a month being an optimistic timeframe for his return to action. If Lee Chong Wei should miss the Olympics or not be 100% then the undoubted favourite for the competition will be the defending champion Lin Dan.
Only the group winners will qualify, but the top 8 will only need to beat a player outside the top 20 in the world to ensure their place in the knockout stages of the event.
9. Simon Santoso (Indonesia)
10. Tien Minh Nguyen (Vietnam)
11. Taufik Hidayat (Indonesia)
12. Jan O Jorgensen (Denmark)
13. Shon Wan Ho (Korea)
14. Marc Zwiebler (Germany)
15. Rajiv Ouseph (Great Britain)
16. Wong Wing Ki (Hong Kong)
Jan O Jorgensen was selected ahead of both Hans-Kristian Vittinghus and Viktor Axelsen to ensure his place at this years Olympics whilst Shon Wan Ho left it to the last possible week to book his place in the qualification spots after jumping from 17 to 14 in the world to ensure a second Korean player in the draw. Taufik Hidayat has made the qualification criteria as he looks for a last flash of brillance to claim his second Olympic title after winning in Athens eight years previously. Rajiv Ouseph is the only British hope in the draw, with the world number 20 narrowly edging out Spain’s Pablo Abian to ensure four European seeds from the 16.
The 9-16 seeds will have a more precarious qualifying process, needing to win the group with three players in it instead of just two.
The remaining 24 players range from the world number 22 Pablo Abian to the two wildcards, Virgil Soeroredjo and Mohamed Ajfan Rasheed who are both ranked outside the top 200 in the world and will be seen as the players the seeded players will most likely want in their groups.
The live draw for the groups will be held in the Olympic Park Main Press Center on July 23 with the final confirmed list of players being released on July 20.
Special thanks to Jan Lin from the BWF for this information
There were no excuses of a 3am finish today, with play ending well before midnight on Day 2 with the loss of several seeds over all 5 events.
Taufik Returns To Super Series Latter Stages
Both Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan have progressed without much fuss into the quarter finals, winning their second round matches in two games. Top seeded Lee Chong Wei takes on the unseeded Rumbaka of Indonesia in his quarter final after toppling the 6th seeded Sho Sasaki in two games. Lin Dan takes on Taufik Hidayat in one of the matches of the third day, with the Indonesian defeating Chen Jin in the second round to progress to his first Super Series Premier quarter final of 2012. It will be a massive boost to the Indonesian’s rankings with the qualification period for the London Olympics ending in just over 2 months time.
Chinese Threats Loom Large
Four of the remaining eight players in the women’s singles are the Chinese seeds, with that number set to decrease by at least one going into Saturday’s semi finals. Wang Yihan takes on Tine Baun in the quarter finals in the pick of the matches but the all-Chinese match between Wang Shixian and Jiang Yanjiao has it’s own sub plot. The Chinese number 3 and 4 are battling for the last place in the Olympic team, so this match will have massive implications on who might progress to the Olympics. Li Xuerui is the only Chinese player on the bottom half of the draw and takes on Saina Nehwal in the quarter finals.
Massive Chinese Presence In Doubles
The Chinese have three pairs in the men’s doubles quarter finals, with Cai and Fu reaching their quarter final against Ahsan and Septano without the loss of a game so far this week. Lee and Jung will have to reverse their defeat against Hong and Shen to progress into the last 4, with the unseeded Chinese pair defeating Koo and Tan of Malaysia to reach the last 8. The 5th seeded Chai and Guo take on the Danish 3rd seeds Boe and Mogensen in the pick of the men’s doubles quarter finals, with the Danish pair defeating the 5th seeds last year on route to their victory at the 2011 All Englands.
Two of the newer pairings for China face off in the women’s doubles quarter final, with Ma and Zhong taking on Huan and Tang with a likely semi final against Wang and Yu looming large. Both pairings have defeated a seed to reach the last 8, with Ma and Zhong defeating Fujii and Kakiiwa in their opening round match whilst Huan and Tang defeating Chien and Cheng of Chinese Taipei, seeded 8. The top two seeds have had little trouble in reaching the quarter finals, with both pairs needing around a hour to book their places in the quarter finals.
The GB Olympic sub-plot is very much still alive this week, with Bankier and Adcock defeating the Korean pair of Yoo and Jang to reach the last 8, only to be followed soon after by their rivals Robertson and Wallwork who defeated the 5th seeded Chen and Cheng to also book their place in the quarter finals. Adcock and Bankier take on the world number 9 pairing of Chan and Goh whilst Robertson and Wallwork take on the 4th seeded Ahmad and Natsir with the reward for another victory each is a semi final match against one another. Xu and Ma are the sole Chinese pair left in the mixed doubles and they take on the Russian pair of Nikolaenko and Sorokina who have regained the form of late last year to reach the last 8. There is also an all-Danish quarter final with Laybourn and Rytter Juhl taking on Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen for a place in the last 4.
It was a day of double disappointment for the German fans, as one of their unseeded doubles pairing crashed out but more surprisingly saw the exit of the 7th seeded Marc Zwiebler.
Lang Outlasts Thomsen
The opening match of the day turned out to be the highlight of the day, as Ville Lang and Christian Lind Thomsen played what could be the longest match of the year. The 104-minute encounter was one of the closest faught matches of the year to date, with the Finn coming through 19-21, 21-19, 21-16 to book his place in the last 8 against Tommy Sugiarto after the Indonesia defeated Lee Hyun Il in his third round match.
Hans-Kristian Vittinghus’ reward for defeating Marc Zwiebler in his third round match is a quarter final against the top seed Lin Dan. The Chinese top seed is the only seed remaining from the top 4, with 3rd seed Sho Sasaki losing out to Shon Wan Ho whilst the 2nd seeded Chen Jin was defeated by Wong Wing Ki in two games.
Schenk Into Last 8
The big German hope this week lay with the 3rd seeded Juliane Schenk and so far, she has progressed into the latter stages without much resistance. A tough test awaits in Inthanon Ratchanok but the German holds a 2-0 head to head record against the world number 11. The top two seeds have been just as impressive as Schenk, with Wang Xin taking on Sung Ji Hyun in her toughest match of the week to date whilst Li Xuerui takes on Hong Kong’s Chen Tsz Ka in her quarter final matchup.
Asian Dominance In Doubles
21 of the 24 pairs remaining in the three events are from Asia, with a lone Danish pair and two pairs from Germany making up the list. The men’s doubles is an all-Asia affair, with Lee and Jung taking on Kim and Kim in an all-Korean quarter final. The 2nd seeds Ko and Yoo take on the 5th seeded Hashimoto and Hirata of Japan in the last 8, but the Japanese pair have won their previous two encounters.
Marinello and Michels took full advantage of the loss of the top seeds by progressing to the last 8 after a victory over the pairing of Sari and Yao who defeated the top seeded Ha and Kim in the opening round. Their quarter final opponents are the unseeded Chinese pair of Cheng and Pan who defeated the 6th seeded Jauhari and Polii to reach the last 8.
The two European seeds in the mixed doubles still remain, with Laybourn and Rytter Juhl taking on the Korean pair of Yoo and Jang in their quarter final match whilst the 8th seeded German pairing of Fuchs and Michels also take on a Korean pair. The 3rd seeded Lee and Ha wait in the quarter finals with the winning pair being the sole seeded pair left in the top half of the draw after the exit of the top seeded Chen and Cheng to Korean’s Kim and Jung in two games.
It was a day with German, Danish and Indian involvement hoping to overcome the odds to reach the last 4 against a fierce contingent of local players and the all-conquering Chinese. For the most part, the latter pair of nations took the spoils.
Lee and Lin Ever Closer To A Korean Rematch
Form might be temporary, but this week has seen the form players in the world reach the last 4 with the unlikely inclusion of Du Pengyu who announced his arrival this week with his opening round demolition of Peter Gade. The Chinese player now has his toughest match of the week against the world number 1 Lee Chong Wei, with the hope of setting up a potential all-Chinese final after the Malaysia defeating Kenichi Tago once more in their one-sided rivalry. Lin Dan would be the second part of the final, with a three game victory over Jan O Jorgensen setting up a semi final against Sho Sasaki who ended European chances in the event with his two game victory over Marc Zwiebler.
A Chinese Monopoly Broken
China hoped for an all-Chinese semi final line-up to cement their place at the top of the women’s singles game, however Bae Youn Joo did not read the script in her victory over Li Xuerui to break the Chinese monopoly of the last 4 places. The Korean takes on Wang Shixian in the semi final, with the 2nd seed failing to drop a game to this point. The other semi final is an all-Chinese clash between the world number 1 Wang Yihan and Jiang Yanjiao. The top seed ended European hopes with a two game victory over Germany’s Juliane Schenk whilst Jiang Yanjiao ended India’s hopes with her own two game victory over Saina Nehwal.
China And Korea Dominate Doubles
Of the 12 pairs remaining in the three doubles events, only two are not Korean or Chinese. The men’s doubles has a Korean majority of 3 to 1 over it’s Chinese rivals. With Cai and Fu the lone Chinese hope in the event. The top seeds take on Ko and Yoo of Korea for a place in Sunday’s final whilst Lee and Jung take on their countrymen Kim and Kim who ended Hong and Shen’s run this week to ensure a sole Chinese entry in the semi finals.
The women’s doubles has two China-Korea matches, with Wang and Yu taking on Ha and Kim in the first semi final in a meeting that has been monumentally one sided. The 6-0 advantage to the Chinese pair is a similar record to most of the other pairs in the world as the world number 1 pair look to extended their unbeaten run to a calendar year. The other semi final sees Tian and Zhao take on Jung and Kim, an unseeded pair who defeated the 7th seeded Matsuo and Naito to reach this stage.
European hopes lay in the mixed doubles, with interest in both semi finals. Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen will be the pair that people will easily recognise, they take on Xu and Ma in the second semi final between the top highest seeds left in the draw. The other semi final features Lee Yong Dae, looking for a historic double in his home country with partner Ha Jung Eun. The Korean pair take on the Russian pairing of Nikolaenko and Sorokina, who defeated He and Yixin in their quarter final in the biggest win of their careers to date.
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.
When the draw was announced last week, the possibility of Lee Chong Wei against Viktor Axelsen match in the second round was a mouthwatering prospect. With both players securing their place in the second round, the world number 1 takes on the future of Danish badminton for the first time tomorrow.
Gade and Chen Long Impress
The seeds made hard work of their opening round matches, with 6th seeded Sho Sasaki being the first of the seeds to fall at the hands of Ajay Jayaram of India in three games. Lee Chong Wei started with a two game victory over Pablo Abian of Spain whilst Viktor Axelsen defeated Hsu Jen Hao of Chinese Taipei to set up his second round match with the Malaysian. Lin Dan needed three games to beat Kashyup Parupalli of India and with a potential semi final meeting with Lee Chong Wei on the cards, the Chinese player will need to find form ahead of that match and next week’s Super Series Premier in China.
The top two seeds in the bottom half of the draw received little resistance as they powered into the second round. 2nd seeded Chen Long defeating Hsueh Hsuan Yi in two games whilst Peter Gade defeated the world championship quarter finalist Kevin Coridon 21-10, 21-5 in just 24 minutes. Gade sets up a second round match against his 2010 world championship quarter finals opponent in Kazushi Yamada, who defeated Joachim Persson to end any chance of an all-Danish match in the second round.
European hopes in the women’s singles are usually low with the strength and depth of the Chinese squad, but Juliane Schenk’s record against the Chinese but the German’s run this week ends at the first hurdle with a loss to Ai Goto of Japan in 3 games. The three Chinese seeds all progressed safely into the last 16 and are also joined by 3 Japanese players but there was a surprise defeat for Liu Xin at the hands of Yao Jie to ensure some European involvement in the second round.
There was also wins for Tine Baun and Carolina Marin, with the Spaniard set to take on the 3rd seeded Wang Xin in one of the toughest matches of her young career to date whilst Yao Jie’s reward for her opening round victory is a second round match against the 4th seeded Saina Nehwal.
Seeds Crash Out in Doubles
There was little trouble for Cai and Fu but for Lee and Jung it was different story, with the 2nd seeds needing a third game and almost a hour on court to defeat Hong and Shen of China in their opening round match. Only one seed fell in the men’s doubles, the 6th seeded Chai and Guo losing out to the American pairing of Bach and Gunawan in a relatively one-sided match.
The all-conquering Wang and Yu started their campaign in impressive fashion in their two game victory over Germany’s Marinello and Michels to set up a second round clash against Chin and Wong of Malaysia. Their main rivals this week as always are the other Chinese pairing of Tian and Zhao, who take on their team-mates Cheng and Pan in the second round. The other six seeds in the draw all progressed into the last 16, with the 5th seeded Chien and Cheng defeating the Macau pairing of Iao and Mak 21-4, 21-5 to reach the second round.
It wasn’t a good day for the seeds in the mixed doubles, with the three lowest seeded pairs all crashing out. 6th seeded Adcock and Bankier lost out to the Chinese pairing of He and Yixin in two games, whilst Mateusiak and Zieba were defeated by Malaysians Chan and Goh and the 8th seeded Ikeda and Shiota also lost out to a Chinese pairing, Hong and Pan in just two games. There was straight forward victories for the top two Chinese seeds as well as the on form Danish pair of Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen. Robertson and Wallwork claimed their opening game 30-29 before eventually progressing in three games to set up a second round match against Chen and Cheng of Chinese Taipei.
Peter Gade’s Denmark Open ends at the hands of his perennial rival, Lee Chong Wei. There was more disappointment for the Danish fans with two pairs crashing out of the doubles at the semi final stage also.
Gade Crashes Out
Gade’s last run at a Denmark Open ends at the hands of the world number 1, with the Dane being competitive throughout the match unlike his previous few matches that have resulted in crushing defeats. Gade himself said he should have taken the second game in his post-match interview, after having four attempts to win the game. Chen Long is the other finalist tomorrow after defeating Sho Sasaki in a one-sided semi final that sets up a rematch of the Japan Open, that the Chinese 3rd seed won.
Chinese Dominance In Women’s Singles
Inthanon Ratchanok was the only player capable of stopping an all-Chinese final, but her resistance lasted just 36 minutes as world number 1 Wang Yihan defeated the unseeded Thai in two games to reach the final. The other semi final seen Wang Xin defeat Wang Shixian in another surprise loss for the world number 2, whose form has been hit and miss since the Sudirman Cup and her loss to Juliane Schenk in that event earlier this year.
Danish Delight In Mixed
The neutral’s dream final in the men’s doubles will take place tomorrow, much to the disappointment of the hometown fans who seen their 3rd seeded pair of Boe and Mogensen lose out to the top seeded Chinese pair of Cai and Fu in two games. Their opponents in tomorrow’s final are the Korean pair of Lee and Jung, who defeated Kido and Setiawan in three games to set up their 17th meeting between the world’s top two pairs.
The Chinese monopoly on the women’s doubles continues as Wang And Yu face off against Tian and Zhao, with the 2nd seeded pair mercilessly thumping the Danish pair of Kruse and Roepke 21-12, 21-5 to book their place against the world number 1 pairing who surprisingly dropped a game against 6th seeded Ha and Kim of Korea before progressing into tomorrow’s final.
The success story for Denmark came in the mixed doubles as Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen fed off the partizan crowd to inflict a stunning defeat on the top seeded pair of Zhang and Zhao after saving a match point at 20-19 in the third game before winning three consecutive points to complete their remarkable comeback. Their opponents in the final are another Chinese pair, the 5th seeded Ma and Xu who ended the run of Lee and Ha of Korea in a two game victory to reach the final and experience the same partisan Danish crowd that their team mates faced in tomorrow’s mixed doubles final.
After Jiaming and Tian’s surprise defeat yesterday, there were no Chinese slip-ups on day 2 with the world’s best safely progressing into the quarterfinals.
Lin Dan did survive a scare in his second round match against Muhammed Hafiz Hashim after the Malaysian took the opening game, only for Lin Dan to respond with two stunning games of badminton and a victory in three games. The top seed will take on Sho Sasaki of Japan in the last 8, whose most recent meeting was at the world championships that seen the Chinese top seed progress in two games. All four quarter finals have Chinese interest but the most intriguing match of the four sees Peter Gade take on Du Pengyu, with Gade winning their only match to date in Singapore in July.
China have five of the remaining eight players left in the women’s singles, with Wang Shixian progressing much more safely than her previous match with a two game victory over Fu Mingtian. The 2nd seed will take on one of the two Europeans left in the draw in Juliane Schenk who defeated world championship finalist Cheng Shao Chieh in three games. Saina Nehwal suffered a similar fate to Wang Shixian, needing the full distance and more to defeat Japan’s Ayane Kurihara. The Indian eventually winning 27-25 to set up a quarter final clash with top seed and world champion Wang Yihan.
All three Chinese world champions are safely into the last 8 in the doubles events, with Cai and Fu needing three games to eventually progress and face England’s Adcock and Ellis. Chris Adcock is also through to the quarter finals of the mixed doubles with partner Imogen Bankier whose remarkable form recently continues with a victory over the 4th seeded Chen and Cheng of Chinese Taipei. Five pairs remain in the women’s doubles, headlined by Wang and Yu but the unseeded pairing of Huan and Tang also stole some of the limelight with their victory over the second seeded Maeda and Suetsuna of Japan.
The pick of the all-Chinese encounters tomorrow comes in the mixed doubles, as a rematch of the world championship semi final sees Zhang and Zhao take on Xu and Ma for a place in the last 4. Ma Jin’s ankle injury in London robbed the fans of a superb match that was finely poised going into the second game, but the last two full matches between the pairs have result in six excellent games of badminton and a victory apiece going into tomorrow.
Most of the world’s best are still recovering from the world championships, however the Vietnam Open managed to lure the national hero in Tien Minh Nguyen back to win the title he claimed in 2009.
Nguyen claimed the men’s singles title without the loss of a game in any of his 6 matches and defeated the second seeded Sho Sasaki whose route to the final was much more difficult than Nguyen but the Vietnamese number 1 was too strong and claimed the title 21-13, 21-17 in 40 minutes.
Unseeded Fu Mingtian claimed the women’s singles title with a three game victory over another unseeded player, Kaori Imabeppu who defeated her seeded team-mate Sayaka Sato in the second round on route to the final. The 67 minute match was eventually won by Singapore’s Fu Mingtian, winning 21-18, 16-21, 21-8.
Indonesia claimed both level doubles titles, with 5th seeded Pratama and Saputra taking the men’s doubles title with a three game victory over the unseeded Chrisnata and Triyachart of Singapore. Agustin and Maheswari were also seeded 5th this week and also defeated a Singapore pair in the final, defeating Sari and Yao who were seeded second this week in two tight games, taking 60 minutes to complete.
Russia claimed the mixed doubles title as Vislova and Durkin, seeded 3rd defeated the Korean pair of Chung and Yoo in the most one-sided of the finals, with the Russian pair winning 21-16, 21-13 in 35 minutes.