With less than 4 weeks to go until the 2012 Olympics, the world’s best players are preparing for the biggest tournament since Beijing four years previously.
The first player to preview is Lee Chong Wei, who was the favourite for the men’s singles until an ankle injury in the Thomas Cup five weeks previously cast doubt whether the Malaysian will make the Olympics at all.
Lee Chong Wei was the on-form player and perennial favourite for almost every Super Series in the past 12 months, he claimed his first All England in 2010 and defended successfully in 2011 but the one criticism of Lee Chong Wei’s career is the lack of World Championships, Asian Championships or Olympic golds.
He has lost his world number 1 for the first time in recent memory with his injury layoff to beg the question if he will in fact take part in the Olympics and potentially risk his final year in the sport that will end at the 2013 World Championships.
Does He Need An Olympic Gold To Cement His Legacy?
The answer is probably yes. His last match in the Olympics in 2008 was Lin Dan at his absolute best and Lee Chong Wei needs one of those landmark moments in his career to validate his place in the all-time greats of the game. 199 weeks at the world number 1 spot and 42 titles mean nothing without an Olympic gold or a gold medal at the 2013 World Championships. Another defeat to Lin Dan in London would cement his place at the second best player of this generation, which a win puts him into the discussion of greatest player in recent history.
Can He Win Olympic Gold?
Before his injury, he was the favourite to claim Olympic gold. Even with a 19-9 deficit in his head to heads to Lin Dan, he won their last meeting of relevance in Korea in January of this year. With this ankle injury, his recovery was meant to be a month that sounded like an optimistic estimation. Now, the same people are saying it will be 6 weeks since his injury (May 22) that gives the Malaysian 22 days to be 100% for the Olympics. However, the mindset of Lee Chong Wei is questionable whether his confident in his body and with the speculated attempt suicide of his father just 3 weeks ago hardly the perfect build up to the Olympics.
Can He Beat Lin Dan?
To win Olympic gold, is it almost a certainty that he will need to defeat at some stage. His form going into the Olympics was excellent, losing just one match to Shon Wan Ho in India in late April. Two injury withdrawals against Lin Dan and Peter Gade ask the question if Lee Chong Wei is physically capable to defeat Lin Dan, with the Chinese player gearing his training and scheduling for the greatest chance of retaining his Olympic title.
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
China claimed both the Thomas and Uber Cup on home soil in Wuhan in a perfect build up to the Olympics in two months time.
A perfect record of 19 victories from 19 ensured China’s successful defence of the Thomas Cup, with a 3-0 victory over Korea in the final. Lin Dan defeated Lee Hyun Il, before Cai and Fu doubled the lead against Lee and Kim in a two tight games before Chen Long completed their rout of Korea with a two game victory over Shon Wan Ho. China dropped just 2 games from their 40 games this week.
China’s women reclaimed the Uber Cup against the holders Korea in another one-sided final. Wang Yihan dropped the opening game to Sung Ji Hyun before fighting back to save four match points and take the second game 22-20. The third game was more dominant from the world number 1, taking the decider 21-13. Wang and Yu had little trouble doubling the lead with a 21-15, 21-13 victory over Ha and Kim before Wang Xin clinched the match with a 21-10, 21-16 win over Bae Youn Joo.
Quarter final day was a day dominated by the Chinese and for Asia as just one European pair is left in the 5 events.
Hidayat And Mitani Surprise In Singles
Taufik Hidayat is through to the last 4 after a three game victory over Shon Wan Ho and takes on Chen Jin in the first semi final tomorrow. Hidayat defeated Chen Jin last week at the All Englands but the 5th seed still holds a 3-2 advantage in head to heads. Lee Hyun Il takes on Chen Long in the second of the semi finals with both players failing to drop a game to date. Chen Long holds a 3-1 advantage on their head to head.
Minatsu Mitani has been the surprise package this week, promoted from qualifying and benefitting from Wang Yihan’s withdrawal, her victory over Bae Youn Joo sets up a semi final with Saina Nehwal who won their only previous encounter last year in three games. Wang Shixian ended Juliane Schenk’s run to set up a semi final against Inthanon Ratchanok who beat the 2nd seed in their most recent encounter.
Adcock and Bankier playing for Europe
Seeds 5, 6, 7 and 8 are into the last 4 of the men’s doubles, with Chandra and Gunawan taking on Kawamae and Sato in a battle of the top highest seeds left in the draw. Fang and Lee take on Endo and Hayakawa. Whilst in the women’s doubles, a Chinese threat looms large as the top seeded Ha and Kim take on the 6th seeded Chinese pair of Bao and Zhong in the first semi final in their first meeting. Huan and Tang take on Chin and Wong on the second semi final in the battle of the unseeded pairs.
Adcock and Bankier take on the top seeded pair of Ahmad and Natsir after defeating Chan and Goh in three games and saving two match points. Bankier and Adcock progressed without much resistance to set up their second meeting between the two pairs with the British pair winning their world championship semi final in London. He and Bao are a new Chinese pairing with a lot of potential and have reached the last 4 taking on Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam in the second semi final.
The 2009 World Championships runners-up are looking to go one better than last year, Lee Yong Dae missed most of the last 4 months with injury but Lee and Jung are the form partnership going into this months World Championships after a convincing 21-10, 21-16 victory over fellow Korean’s Cho and Kwon, the 6th seeds. The Korean success story continued in the women’s doubles, as Lee Hyo Jung put her injury scare in Macau behind her as she took the title with partner Kim Min Jung, defeating another unseeded Korean pair of Lee and Yoo, winning 21-14, 22-20.
Top seeds Hendra Gunawan and Vita Marissa claimed the mixed doubles title in an all-Indonesian final, taking the title in three tight games against the 5th seeded Ahmad and Natsir and claiming revenge for their two game loss to Ahmad and Natsir in Macau just last week, winning 22-20, 14-21, 22-20. Title number two for Indonesia came in the men’s singles with 3rd seeded Simon Santoso defeating the unseeded Korean Shon Wan Ho in a impressive two game victory to boost his confidence ahead of the World Championships in Paris later this month.
The local support had their own reasons to celebrate as Cheng Shao Chieh took the women’s singles title, defeating 3rd seeded Bae Sueng Hee of Korea. Cheng defeated the 8th, 4th and 3rd seed to take the title after a 78 minute marathon, winning 21-11, 24-26, 21-17.
It was a bad day to be the 3rd seed in both singles events as both fell at the quarter final stage today. Eriko Hirose lost in the women’s singles to unseeded Adriyanti Firdasari of Indonesia in two games whilst Sony Kuncoro lost out to the 5th seeded Boonsak Ponsana in three tight games, losing 25-23 in the final game in 77 minutes.
Lee Chong Wei had no such problems in his two game win over Wan Ho Shon of Korea, his fourth straight victory without the loss of a game this week. In the semi final, he will play 4th seed Simon Santoso after his stunning 21-6, 21-5 victory over Wing Ki Wong of Hong Kong. The other semi final sees Boonsak Ponsana take on the Korean qualifier Lee Hyun Il who defeated the 13th seed Hsieh Yu Hsing of Chinese Taipei.
The women’s singles draw has just one seed remaining in Zhou Mi, the 4th seed defeated on-form Ai Goto in two games to book her place in the semi final against unseeded Li Xuerui of China, who defeated Macau’s Wang Rong in three games to book her place in the last 4. The other semi final sees Adriyanti Firdasari take on Chinese Taipei’s unseeded Shao Chieh Cheng, who profited in the women’s doubles from Lee Hyo Jung’s retirement in the opening round.
Shao Chieh Cheng’s run in the women’s doubles ended today with a tight two game loss to 6th seeded Zhang and Zhang of Macau. The Macau pair take on Jauhrai and Polii of Indonesia in the semi finals after the 5th seeds defeated 2nd seeed Chin and Wong of Malaysia. The two highest seeded pairs remaining in the draw play each other in the other semi final, as top seeds Maeda and Suetsuna of Japan play Cheng and Chien of Chinese Taipei, the 3rd seeds and last weeks winners in the US Open.
The top 2 seeds from the men’s doubles are still in the competition and are joined in the last 4 by two unseeded Korean pairs. 2nd seeded Kido and Setiawan, who have failed to drop a game this week take on Ko and Yoo of Korean who defeated Endo and Hayakawa 22-20 in the third of their quarter final match. The other Korean pair, Cho and Kwon take on the 3rd seed Chandra and Gunawan in the last 4 for a place in Sunday’s final.
The mixed doubles is between 3 Indonesian pairs and a Thai partnership. Top seed Gunawan and Marissa take on the 8th seeds Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam of Thailand, who have yet to drop a game on route to the last 4. The other semi final is an all-Indonesian match between 6th seeded Ahmad and Natsir against the on-form unseeded pair of Teng and Bernadet who have defeated two seeds on route to the last 4 without the loss of a game to date.
Zhu Lin is amassing another impressive list of victories in the US this week after her success in Canada just last week. Pi Hongyan is the latest player to fall to the on form Chinese player, as Zhu Lin defeated the French 2nd seed in two games to book her place in the semi finals. The semi final is a rematch of the Canadian Open final against Juliane Schenk of Germany. The 3rd seed has failed to drop a game on route to the semi finals and will want to avenge her defeat last week.
Rajiv Ouseph is through to the semi final of the men’s singles with two game victory over Shon Wan Ho of Korea, he sets up a match against Derek Wong Zillang of Singapore in the last 4. The other semi final sees the 9th seed Brice Leverdez, who defeated the 4th seeded Hsieh Yu Hsing in the quarter final play unseeded Japanese player Yuichi Ikeda for a place in Saturday’s final.
The American interest is down to just one, with Chew and Ho losing out at the quarter final stages of the men’s doubles to Kim and Shin of Korea, whose reward for defeating the American pair is a semi final match against the top seeded Fang and Lee of Chinese Taipei. Bach and Gunawan are safety into the final four with a routine victory but have their toughest test to date in the semi final against the 3rd seded Chen and Lin of Chinese Taipei.
Top seeds in the mixed doubles Mateusiak and Zieba are safely into the last 4 with their 3rd two game victory of the week. They will play their first seed of the week in the semi finals, 3rd seeded Lee and Chien of Chinese Taipei. The 2nd seeded pair of Wallwork and Robertson were defeated in the quarter finals, beaten by the 6th seeds Chen and Cheng. They will play the German pair of Fuchs and Overzier in the last 4.
Day 2 provided yet more surprises as more seeds toppled at the last 16 stage. Carl Baxter, Petr Koukal and Scott Evans came through the opening day without losing a game between them but all fell on Day 2. Scott Evans took the opening game against the 4th seeded Hsing Hsieh Tzu 21-6, only to lose the next two matches 21-9, 21-9. 3rd seed Rajiv Ouseph is safely through to the quarter finals and will play Shon Wan Ho of Korea, the 7th seed.
The top three seeds in the women’s draw have all progressed into the last 8, 2nd seeded Pi Hongyan plays last weeks winner in Canada, Zhu Lin of China in the quarter finals. Juliane Schenk lost out to Zhu Lin in last weeks final and will want revenge this week. Her quarter final opponent is Singapore’s Fu Mingtian who defeated 8th Anu Nieminen in the opening round. Judith Meulendijks is also safely through, the 4th seed will play Ma Pai Hsiao of Chinese Taipei in the last 8.
There has been double success in the men’s doubles for the US, with two partnerships making it to the last 8. Chew and Ho are the lesser known of the duo but will get the chance to make a name for themselves as they are last on the main court on Thursday’s order of play against unseeded pair Kim and Shin of Korea. Bach and Gunawan have been in fine form as they have reached the last 8 without the loss of a game. They will play Chou and Lin of Chinese Taipei in the quarter final stage.
The top two seeds in the mixed doubles are safely into the last 8 also, with top seeds Mateusiak and Zieba in impressive form with two dominating wins to reach the quarter final stage. They will take on Ng and Jiang of Canada in their last 8 match. 2nd seeded Wallwork and Robertson have been equally impressive, with the loss of just 30 points in their two matches to date. Their quarter final test will be the biggest one to date, as they play the 6th seeded pair from Chinese Taipei, Chen and Cheng.
The draw in Japan left a real chance of seeds falling today, with potential shocks with Boonsak Ponsana against Lee Chong Wei in Round 1 being one of the matches of the day. Ponsana came into the event on the back of his Super Series Final defeat to Lin Dan and the Thai player was expected to trouble the world number 1.
That was simply not the case. Lee Chong Wei sailed into Round 2 with a 21-9, 21-15 victory. Joachim Persson, seeded 7 played Shon Wan Ho of Korea, a player showing promise in recent weeks. The Korean player took a set of Peter Gade just last week in the China Masters and continues his excellent form with a superb 21-13, 21-13 over Persson. He plays Bao Chunlai in Round 2.
The bottom half of the men’s draw has been decimating with Chen Jin’s withdrawal and Joachim Persson’s defeat, leaving just two seeds in the bottom half of the draw going into Round 2. The Women’s draw is none the better, with Wang Yihan the last seed left in the top half of the Women’s draw.
Zhou Mi’s half of the draw was a potentially easier one that she expected, the withdrawal of world champion Lu Lan and Xie Xingfang meant that only herself and Wang Yihan were seeded in the top half. Adriyanti Firdasari was her Round 1 opponent, three sets and 56 minutes later, the top seed tumbled out of the competition. Zhou Mi held a 16-12 lead in the third set, only to lose nine of the next eleven points. Half of the seeds in the Women’s singles are now out or withdrew pre-event. Salna Nehwal also failed to reach Round 2, with a three-set defeat against Jiang Yanjiao.
The event is littered with Chinese withdrawals, Lu Lan, Xie Xingfang, Cai and Fu, Xie Zhongbo and Zhang Yawen to name a few.
The Men’s Doubles has also suffered its fair share of shocks in Round 1. Second seeds Tan and Koo losing to Japanese partnership of Hayakawa and Kazuno. The pair was seeded 14th at the World Championships. The story of the early rounds of the World Championships was Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan’s run at world title number two.
The pair put together some incredible victories to reach the quarterfinals; they have started their campaign with another outstanding win over Paaske and Rasmussen, the 6th seeds. The American partnership was never behind in the third set and play Hoshino and Kobayashi in Round 2.
Play begins on Thursday at midday local time.
Yonex Japan Open Super Series 2009 Draws