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SUNDAY 13/4/2014

Simon Santoso was written off by critics and badminton fans  that his men’s singles finals match up against crowd favorite and world number 1 Lee Chong Wei at the Singapore Open Super Series 2014 is just a practice session .

Lee Chong Wei, winner of multiple Super Series titles  and seems to be the clear favorite a class winning  9 out of the 10 head to head match up previously.

All was proved wrong by Simon Santoso the 28 years old lad from Indonesia, who quit the national team in January to find better fortune as an independent player and won the Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold 2014 around 2 weeks ago.

Lee Chong Wei who won the India Open Super Series last week, is struggling  to keep up his form consistent  at the top level to meet the physical demands of playing top badminton at international level.  In fact, he was even thinking about retiring from  the sport at the end of year as age is catching up with the Malaysia warrior.

Simon Santoso who skipped the India Open last week and  took advantage of that and walked in the court with true courage. He showed no signs of nerves and perhaps he was the only one in the packed stadium, who believed in himself of choking up a win against his much more reputable opponent and the current face of badminton  Lee Chong Wei.

image source: yonex.de

Nothing was working for Lee Chong Wei in the first set and it continued to the second set. But the 3 times All England Champion and 2 times Olympic silver medalist displayed a true character of a champion and fight through adversity. Despite showing signs of frustrations and was trailing 4 -11 in the second set, the 31 years old Chong Wei picked up his pace and managed to steal 6 straight points that brought him back into the game.

With the backing of the Singapore crowd cheering his name, Lee Chong Wei displayed great dynamic styles as the world number 1, leaping everywhere for smashes and follow up at the front court. Chong Wei  managed to crawled back up to 10-12 in the second set despite losing the first set.

Simon Santoso stayed focus despite showing glimpse of fatigue, dictating almost every rallies with high quality shots pushing his opponent all four corners and finishes off with superb angle of his thundering smashes. It was absolutely sensational badminton which kept the supporters and badminton fans at the edge of their seats and mouth opening moments.

The more experience Lee Chong Wei tried breaking the rhythm of his younger  Indonesian opponent with Formula One pace and tempos but Simon Santoso always seems to find winning angles with his steep smashes.

The Malaysia Open GP 2014 champion, Simon Santoso persevered through the match and who was looking pale and gasping hard for air towards the end of the match but managed to find odd angles smashes that does winners.

With a string of unforced errors done by Lee Chong Wei, Simon quickly sped up to a 20-10 lead and finally won the match 21-15, 21-10 in 48 minutes.  It was only his 3rd career Super Series title, where as his opponent who had won an impressive 44 Super Series titles.

Simon Santoso is finally back, struggled with  several injuries which made him out of action for the last couple of years. Now he is back and probably the best form he has ever been. He came in the Singapore Open Super Series only as a qualifier but came out of the tournament as a truly deserved champion.

Both men displayed great badminton which projects the great beauty of sports where underdogs can spring up surprises against the favorites. Hopefully this type of badminton will eventually gain more of recognition of sport that it truly deserves.

2012 London Olympics – Match Fixing Aftermath

On August 2, 2012, in Olympics, by Eddie Smith

There were 4 eliminations before play even begun today, with the disqualification of all four pairs in the women’s doubles accused of match fixing. That allowed the 3rd and 4th placed pairs from Group A and C into the quarter finals at their expense.

Men’s Singles

An inspired Lee Chong Wei answered all of his critics in his second round masterclass against Simon Santoso, with the top seeded Malaysian comfortably booking his place in the last 8 with a two game victory. Kashyup Parupalli awaits the top seed in the quarter finals, with the Indian defeating Sri Lanka’s Niluka Karunaratne in three games to offer India a second hope of a medal in the singles events.

The last 16 saw exits for Jan O Jorgensen, Marc Zwiebler, Kevin Cordon and most noticably Taufik Hidayat who was defeated by Lin Dan in his final Olympic appearance of the Indonesian’s career. Chen Long and Chen Jin ensured a trio of Chinese players in the last 8, with the 3rd seeded Chen Long taking on Peter Gade in the quarter finals in what could be Gade’s final appearance at the Olympics also.

Women’s Singles

The biggest casualty of the last 16 was Germany’s Juliane Schenk, with Inthanon Ratchanok ending the run of the 6th seed at the second round in a two game victory for the 9th seeded Thai. Yip Pui Yin defeated Pi Honygan to further reduce any chance of European success, the unseeded player from Hong Kong takes on the 3rd seeded Li Xuerui in the quarter finals.

Wang Yihan faught back from a game down to ensure her place in the last 8 at the expense of Bae Youn Joo and set up a world championship rematch from last year against Cheng Shao Chieh. Tine Baun became the final European player left in the draw after Sayaka Sato retired from their match whilst leading 15-14 but the Danes task in the quarter final will be much harder as Baun takes on Saina Nehwal in the last 8. The Indian 4th seed defeated Yao Jie of Holland to reach the quarter finals and set up a matchup against Baun.

Women’s Doubles

Without winning a game in Group A, Michelle Li and Alex Bruce are into the semi finals of the women’s doubles after a two game victory over Australia’s Veeran and Choo to set up their match against Fujii and Kakiiwa of Japan. The 4th seeded Japanese pair ended the run of Denmark’s Rytter Juhl and Pedersen in two games to set up their semi final against the Canadians.

The other semi final features Vislova and Sorokina, who came third in Group A but defeated Viljoen and Edwards to reach the last 4 and take on the 2nd seeded Tian and Zhao of China, who defeated Cheng and Chien of Chinese Taipei in two games.

Mixed Doubles

The four seeded pairs remain in the mixed doubles, with Xu and Ma coming closest to elimination after surviving a match point in order to defeat Mateusiak and Zieba of Poland. Their reward for victory is a semi final match against Ahmad and Natsir, who defeated Fuchs and Michels in two games to book safe passage into the last 4.

Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen are the sole European hope, after their victory over Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam of Thailand but will take on the current world champions Zhang and Zhao who ended the campaign of the 2009 world champions and Danish team mates Laybourn and Rytter Juhl.

Day 5 Results

London 2012 Olympics – Day 5 Preview

On July 31, 2012, in Olympics, by Eddie Smith

The great British dream ended at the group stages, but the show must go on. 32 players and 24 pairs remain to fight for five gold medals as the world’s elite face one another to edge ever closer to a medal.

Men’s Singles

Simon Santoso is the latest player to have his chance at Lee Chong Wei, with a pair of impressive victories whilst the top seed struggled past Ville Lang and the rest of the field now know what Lee Chong Wei’s limitations are. The other side of the draw offers the match of the day tomorrow, as the 2008 Olympic champion Lin Dan takes on the 2004 Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat in what could be the Indonesian’s final match of his historic career.

Another player in the twilight of his career is Peter Gade, who takes on Shon Wan Ho in his second round encounter with the winner of Wong Wing Ki and Chen Long waiting in the last 8. Two more Europeans will hope to keep a continents dream alive as Jan O Jorgensen and Marc Zwiebler take on higher seeded Asian opponents tomorrow, with the Dane taking on Lee Hyun Il whilst the German takes on the 4th seeded Chen Jin.

Women’s Singles

Only Wang Yihan and Wang Xin had the luxury of a group of two, the other 14 women had to progress from groups of 3 with only two seeds falling at the opening hurdle. One of those seeds was Petya Nedelcheva, who was knocked out by Indonesia’s Adrianti Firdasari – who takes on the 2nd seed, Wang Xin in the second round. The top seeded Wang Yihan takes on Bae Youn Joo of Korea in her last 16 match, with a potential world championship rematch with Cheng Shao Chieh waiting in the quarter finals.

Saina Nehwal and Tine Baun are just one victory away from facing one another at the last 8 stage. The Indian takes on Yao Jie in her second round match whilst Baun takes on Sayako Sato of Japan. Yip Pui Yin is the only other unseeded player left in the draw after defeating Sung Ji Hyun in the group stages, the Hong Kong player takes on Pi Hongyan for a place in the last 8.

Women’s Doubles

With the group stages complete, the manipulation of the draw will cease and a winner will be crowned. The marquee match of the day sees the top seeded Wang and Yu take on the 3rd seeded Ha and Kim, with the top seeds losing their final group game to ensure they could not take on their Chinese team-mates until the final. Tian and Zhao take on Chien and Cheng of Chinese Taipei in the half of the draw where they are the only seeds in it, whilst the final seeds – Fujii and Kakiiwa take on the Danish pair of Rytter Juhl and Pedersen, who topped Group D.

Mixed Doubles

The four seeds all won their group and will avoid playing one another at least for another round but there is a refreshing mix of pairs left in the draw but without the defending champion Lee Yong Dae. Four European pairs take on four Asian pairs for a battle of continental supremacy with the 2011 world champions Zhang and Zhao taking on the 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl for a place in the last 4 and a potential all-Danish semi final. 4th seeded Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen take on the Thai pairing of Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam for a place in the last 4 as the only European seed hope to keep European hopes alive.

Xu and Ma take on current European champions, Mateusiak and Zieba of Germany whilst the 4th quarter final features the 3rd seeded Ahmad and Natsir taking on the German pairing of Fuchs and Michels, the higher ranked left in the draw at 22.

Day 5 Schedule

The crowd in Jakarta were treated to fifteen games of action, with Simon Santoso taking the men’s singles title to ensure success for the Indonesian’s in their home Premier Series event.

Santoso and Nehwal Take Titles

The stranglehold of the Chinese on these events has been loosened with the results of this week, albeit with Lee Chong Wei injured and the Chinese squad in their Olympic camp ahead of London 2012. There was still a Chinese presence in both singles events, with a Chinese player in both finals. Simon Santoso defeated Du Pengyu in the men’s singles final in three games in the longest final of the day at 79 minutes whilst Sain Nehwal overcame Li Xuerui after saving two match points in the second game, before claiming her second victory in six attempts over the 4th seeded Chinese player.

Ahmad and Natsir Denied

Lee and Jung claimed the men’s doubles title in 76-minutes, after being taken to three games by the Danish pair of Boe and Mogensen who have now lost their last three meetings with the Korean pair. Wang and Yu defeated Tian and Zhao in three games to claim their 8th victory in their last nine meetings between the top two pairs in the world in the shortest match of the day, which still took over an hour.

The last match of the day seen Ahmad and Natsir take on the Thai pairing of Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam, but the expectations of a nation were too much of the Indonesian pair, after dropping the opening game they fought back to ensure a deciding game but they were never in the 3rd game, with the Thai pairing expanding on their lead before claiming the title 21-13 in the deciding game.

Finals Results

Indonesia has two finalists at it’s home Premier Series event, whilst another top seed is toppled on semi finals day in Jakarta.

Santoso Into Final

Simon Santoso has benefited from the absence of several top name players and shock exits to book his place in the men’s singles final. His two game victory over Kashyap Parupalli set up his final against Du Pengyu, with the Chinese 8th seed defeating Hu Yun in two games to book his place in the final.

Wang Yihan crashed out at the semi final stage, losing her all-Chinese clash with Li Xuerui in two games to ensure the 4th seed would represent China in the final. Her opponent will be the 5th seeded Saina Nehwal, who defeated Sung Ji Hyun to book her place in the final and her 6th meeting against Li Xuerui, with the 4th seeded Chinese player winning four of their past five meetings.

Top Two Clash

Lee and Jung set up their highly anticipated match with Boe and Mogensen in the men’s doubles final. The Danish pair failed to drop a game on route to the final whilst the Korean pair needed three games to end the run of Kido and Setiawan to ensure their place in the final.

Wang and Yu set up their 10th meeting against Tian and Zhao in the women’s doubles final, with the 2nd seeds claiming victory in their last meeting at the All Englands in March. The top seeded Wang and Yu have won seven of the previous eight meetings however and the top seeds have needed just six games to reach the final.

Ahmad and Natsir defeated Xu and Ma to claim a famous victory and a place in the mixed doubles final and take on the unseeded Thai pairing of Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam, who defeated Ko and Eom of Korea to book their place in the final.

Semi Final Results

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

The 2012 Thomas and Uber Cup Finals have seen their fair share of shock results, but the biggest scare of the week so far is Lee Chong Wei’s ankle injury sustained in his match against Peter Gade.

Thomas Cup

The host nation China had little trouble in winning Group A, with a pair of 5-0 victories over Indonesia and England with the loss of just one game in the 10 matches. Indonesia claimed second place in the group with a 4-1 victory over England to reach the quarter final stage. Japan topped Group B with a perfect record of 10 victories without the loss of a single game, defeating Russia and New Zealand 5-0. Russia claimed the second place in the with their own 5-0 victory over New Zealand to reach the last 8.

Denmark topped Group C after defeating Malaysia in a tight 3-2 victory, but only due to Lee Chong Wei’s retirement in the opening match against Peter Gade. Leading 2-1 in the opening game, the world number twisted his ankle awkwardly attempting to play a routine drop shot and was forced to retire from the match. The estimation of his layoff is set to be 3-4 weeks but other sources claim that the ankle injury is much more serious and the chances of making the Olympics are unlikely. Denmark claimed both doubles matches to ensure a 3-2 victory and top spot in the group whilst Malaysia progress to the last 8 but will be without Lee Chong Wei for the rest of the event. Korea top Group D with a narrow 3-2 victory over Germany as both nations reach the last 8 with both Korea and Germany defeating the US.

Uber Cup

China also topped Group A in the Uber Cup after a both of withdrawals in their final match against Indonesia ensured a second 5-0 victory in the group. Indonesia will also go through to the last 8 after defeating South Africa earlier in the group. Thailand and Chinese Taipei go through from Group B, with both nations losing a match in the group stage, the Netherlands shocked Chinese Taipei in the opening match of the group whilst Thailand defeated Netherlands 5-0 before going down 3-2 to Chinese Taipei, meaning the group went down to matches won.

Korea safely progressed without the loss of a match in Group C as Germany’s singles players ensured their place in the last 8 with a tight 3-2 win over Australia to ensure their qualification. Japan edged out Denmark for top spot in Group D as the Dane led Japan 2-0 in the final group match, only for the Japanese to win the next three games and win the rubber as well as the Group.

Tuesday’s Results

The world’s elite descend on Birmingham for the last Premier event of the Olympic qualifying year and also the last visit for some of the world’s greatest players set to retire in London in less than 6 months time.

Gade’s Last Run

Gade confirmed on Sunday evening that this would be his last All England as a player. The 4th seed starts with a first round match against his opponent at the 2011 World Championships, England’s Rajiv Ouseph. Gade has won the previous 7 encounters against Ouseph, all in two games. Top seed Lee Chong Wei is also in Gade’s half of the draw, taking on the dangerous Wang Zhengming in his opening round match but the world number 1 has won all four of their matches in two games also.

Lin Dan enters the tournament as the form player with his fantastic run in Germany last week, he takes on India’s Ajay Jayaram in his opening round match for their first meeting. The bottom half of the draw is loaded with Chinese threats with Chen Jin and Chen Long all likely to make deep runs this week. Taufik Hidayat has dropped to 12th in the world rankings and has been displaced as Indonesia’s #1 player by Simon Santoso. His status as Indonesia’s number 2 should remain unless Tommy Sugiarto defeats Chen Jin in his opening round match, with Hidayat taking on Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon in the first round.

Chinese Strength On Show

China have only brought a mere 6 players for the women’s singles, with all of them ranked inside the top 10 in the world. Liu Xin is the only unseeded of the six and takes on Michelle Li of Canada before a likely second round match against top seeded Wang Yihan.

Should the Chinese team allow their players to play one another, this could be a fascinating week of play with six players attempting to qualify for potentially three spots in the Olympics. Wang Xin and Wang Shixian hold the other two qualifying places and both have tough openers. Wang Xin takes on the world number 12 Sung Ji Hyun of Korea whilst Wang Shixian takes on the world number 10 and world silver medalist
Cheng Shao Chieh.

Tine Baun and Juliane Schenk lead the European charge, with Baun taking on Fu Mingtian of Singapore in her opening round match whilst Juliane Schenk takes on the world number 13 Bae Youn Joo in her opening round match. The sub-plots begin on Tuesday when qualifying takes place with Susan Egelstaff and Elizabeth Cann fighting for the GB spot at the Olympics, both have been in poor runs of form but could play each other in the final qualifying round on Tuesday night in what could be a decider for the Olympic spot.

China The Nation To Beat

China hold the top seed in all three doubles events, with Cai and Fu on route to take on Lee and Jung for their 21st encounter. Last week’s winners Hong and Shen are in Lee and Jung’s half of the draw also as well as Boe and Mogensen of Denmark. Cai and Fu’s main threat in their half in the Korean pair of Ko and Yoo, their world championship opponents.

Wang and Yu have been off the radar for almost 2 months after their stunning loss to Ha and Kim in Korea, they still remain the top seeds in the women’s doubles and will face a qualifier in their opening round. Their main rivals Tian and Zhao start with Chin and Wong of Malaysia, the world number 14 pairing. Ha and Kim are the 3rd seeds this week and are in the bottom half of the draw and have a rematch of their opening round in Germany last week against Sari and Yao of Singapore who defeated them in three games.

The mixed doubles offers another Zhang and Zhao against Adcock and Bankier rematch in the first round, after meeting in the first round in Korea with the British pair coming up on top. Adcock and Bankier are also in a tight qualification fight against Robertson and Wallwork who take on the world number 11 Thai pairing of Anugritayawon and Voravichitchaikul in the opening round. Xu and Ma are the second seeds this week and start with under the circumstances an “easy” game against the world number 31 pairing of Kim and Jung of Korea. The Danish contingent could face off in the quarter final, but the 3rd seeded Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen take on the new Chinese partnership of Jiaming and Huan. Last week’s German Open winners Laybourn and Rytter Juhl await a qualifier in their opening round.

Draws

The story of the day was the hope of a title remaining in Germany with Juliane Schenk but at the end of play on Sunday, the storyline was nothing new as China took 4 of the 5 titles.

Danish Delight In Mixed

The only title not won by the Chinese was the mixed doubles, won by Laybourn and Rytter Juhl who defeated their higher seeded opponents Lee and Ha in a stunning 21-9, 21-16 victory to ensure one title would remain in Europe and giving the Danish pair a massive boost going into the All England Championships.

Four For China

Lin Dan was the overwhelming favourite at the start of the week and was rarely tested throughout the week, claiming victory in the final over Simon Santoso 21-11, 21-11 to claim the men’s singles title. Huan and Tang took the women’s doubles title with a two game victory over Jung and Kim of Korea. The Korean’s could have claimed three titles today also which was another storyline of the day as they left with none.

Hong and Shen stunned the top seeded Lee and Jung in the men’s doubles final, winning their tight three game match in 65 minutes to ensure Lee Yong Dae would leave Germany empty handed. Li Xuerui finished the run of Juliane Schenk at the final hurdle in the women’s singles final, a spirited performance from Schenk was to no avail as the 2nd seeded Chinese player took the title 21-19, 21-16.

Finals Results

Germany’s hope of a title on home soil lies with Juliane Schenk, the 3rd seeded topped the world number 2 Wang Xin to reach the women’s singles final.

Chinese Presence In Singles Finals

Lin Dan progressed into tomorrow’s men’s singles final with a straight forward two game victory over Tommy Sugiarto to stop any chance of an all-Indonesian final. Simon Santoso defeated Jan O Jorgensen in two games to set up a 10th meeting with Lin Dan, with his sole victory coming by way of walkover in 2007. Li Xuerui takes on Juliane Schenk in the women’s singles final after the 2nd seed topped Gu Juan in her semi final in two games.

Lee Going For Two Titles

Lee Yong Dae has successfully reached the mixed and men’s doubles finals, losing just two games on route to both finals. Lee and Jung defeated the Japanese pairing of Endo and Hayakawa but their 2nd seeded team-mates Ko and Yoo crashed out in the second semi final to the unseeded pair of Hong and Shen. This is the 6th meeting between the pairs, with the top seeded Koreans winning the previous 5 matches.

The 7th and 8th seeds will play in the women’s doubles final, with the 7th seeded Jung and Kim defeating the 2nd seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa to reach the final. The second semi final saw the 8th seeded Huan and Tang defeating Cheng and Pan in an all-Chinese semi final. The 8th seeded Chinese pair hold a 1-0 advantage in the head to head in previous meetings.

Lee and Ha needed over an hour to defeat the unseeded Japanese pairing of Sato and Matsuo before booking their place in the mixed doubles final. Their opponent will be the 2009 world champions, Laybourn and Rytter Juhl who defeated the 2nd seeded Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam in the second semi final. This will be the first meeting between the world number 7 and 8 pairings.

Semi Final Results

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