Japan had four chances to claim titles in Melbourne and dominate the week but had to settle for just three from the four. The anticipated return of Wang Lin ended at the semi final stage as another Chinese woman stole the show in the women’s singles, which Japan had interest in the other four events.
The day started with title number one for Japan, as 4th seeded Matsuo and Naito defeated the unseeded Malaysian pair of Chin and Wong in a 21-18, 21-11 victory in 43 minutes.The chance for title number two was immediate with 5th seeded Hashimoto and Fujii taking on the 2nd seeded Thai pairing of Anugritayawon and Voravichitchaikul. However the Japanese domination took a massive blow with the 2nd seeded Thai’s winning in impressive fashion, defeating Hashimoto and Fujii 21-15, 21-9 in just 31 minutes.
It was China’s turn next to win in impressive fashion as Liu Xin finished her excellent week with a highly impressive win over the 6th seeded Porntip Buranaprasertsuk in a one-sided 21-14, 21-9 to ensure that Thailand’s title tally for the week was just one. The 4th final of the day ensured a second Japanese title as 5th seeded Endo and Hayakawa defeated their 4th seeded team-mates Kawamae and Sato in a tight two game match which seen the lower seeded pair take the title in 39 minutes.
The final match of the day seen 6th seeded Sho Sasaki against the 8th seeded Wong Choong Hann of Malaysia, after both player exchanged a game apiece, the final game was perfectly poised at 17-17, with Sho Sasaki stringing together an invaluable two point streak to take it to 19-17 and the 8th seeded Wong could never get back on level terms, with Sasaki taking the 3rd game 21-19 to claim the title and Japan’s third of the week.
The question marks over the 2008 Olympic champions Lee and Lee making the World Championships were still unanswered as little as 3 weeks ago as Lee Hyo Jung pulled out of Macau just as Lee Yong Dae returned from his own injury layoff, however they are here in Paris. The Chinese squad come here without a seed in the top 5 and will look for an exceptional performance from one of three seeded pairings.
The top seeds are Widianto and Natsir and after their first round bye, they will play another Indonesia pair of Kurniawan and Bernadet ranked 14th in the world but not seeded for the world championships. The 11th seeded Chen and Chou is the other seeds in the section and play against Germany’s Schottler and Marinello for a place in the second round, the other match in the section is between Australian pair Raj and Renuga Veeran and Yoo and Kim of Korea.
Zheng and Ma are the 8th seeds, even though they are provisionally ranked 35th in the world and have failed to live up to the hype surrounding them for the past few years, could this year be their year? They begin their campaign against Zavadsky and Diptan of Ukraine, ranked 91st in the world. Also in this section is the 14th seeds, Thailand’s Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam who begin their campaign against Croatia’s Durkinjak and Poznanovic, the world number 58. The other match in the section is between Wong and Chau of Hong Kong, the world number 62 against the world number 52 pairing of Sam and Chloe Magee.
Poland’s Mateusiak and Kostiuczyk are seeded 3 for the event and have a tough opening match in the second round against the world number 27 duo of Triyachart and Yao of Singapore. This section will clearly be one of the toughest to progress through as the 9th seeded Diju V and Jwala Gutta take on the world number 21 pairing of Adcock and White of England. The final match of the section sees Chan and Goh of Malaysia take on the Belgian pair of Gillis and Corvillain.
The 5th seeded Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen are another high seeding with a tough opening match, against the 23rd ranked Sorokina and Nikolaenko of Russia in their second round match. The 12th seeded Ko and Ha from Korea have an easier start than the other seeds in the section, taking on Jacquet and Dumartharay of Switzerland. The first of the French pairings are in this section also, Careme and Choinet take on the Japanese pairing of Hashimoto and Fujii, who are both seeded in their level doubles events and could be a pairing to watch this week.
Lee and Lee are seeded 7 for the event, even thought they have a world ranking of 5. Perhaps there are still concerns of Lee Yong Dae’s injury, but the 7th seeds take on Larsen and Schjoett-Kristiansen of Denmark, ranked 32nd in the world and will test the Korean’s credentials in their opening game. The 16th seeded Lee and Chien have a tough match to start out also, against Russia’s Durkin and Vislova, ranked 31 in the world. The final match in the section sees Wiratama and Tse of Hong Kong take on Vietnam’s Duc and Ham, ranked 112 in the world.
The 4th seeds are another Indonesia pair in Gunawan and Marissa who begin their campaign against James and Edwards of South Africa, ranked 97th in the world. The 10th seeds Jiaming and Yawen take on France’s Rasadi and Labar in one of the weaker sections of the draw, with the final match of the section between world number 25 Ng and Gao against Hirata and Miyuki of Japan, ranked 34 in the world being easily the most competitive match in the section.
The big Chinese hope is in the 6th seeded He and Yu, who are ranked below Jiamind and Yawen but received a higher seeding. He and Yu begin their campaign against the Spanish pair of Longo and Ojeda. The 13th seeded Anugrtiayawon and Voravichitchalkul from Thailand take on the German duo of Overzier and Kindervater, ranked 67th in the world. The final match of the section sees Misha and Svetlana Zilberman of Israel take on Zirnwald and Prustch of Austria.
The final section sees the 2nd seeded and current World Champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl take on the Polish pair of Szkudiarczyk and Wojtkowska in the second round after their first round byes. The other seed in the section is the 15th seeds, Wallwork and Robertson of England who begin their campaign with a first round match against Prus and Atrashchenkov of Ukraine. The final match in the section is between the Bulgarian pair of Makarski and Dimova and Dutch pairing of Khoabux and Barning in an excellent matchup between the world number 36 and 39 in the world.
After some strong results and his notable win over Lee Chong Wei recently, Vietnam’s Tien Minh Nguyen has added another achievement to make his country proud by winning the SCG Thailand Grand Prix Gold. Nguyen made his way through the draw with relative ease, winning all of his matches without dropping a single game. In the final he defeated the local favourite Boonsak Ponsana with little resistance 21-16, 21-13. Certainly a result to boost his confidence for the World Championships coming next month where he is set for a rematch against Lee Chong Wei.
In the women’s singles China’s young upstarts did them proud with Liu Jian and Wang Rong both making it to the finals after going through the qualifying rounds. In the end it was Liu Jian who took the top prize after defeating her teammate 21-16, 21-18. I’m sure it’s highly likely that we’ll be hearing a lot more from these girls.
In the men’s doubles there was an all Malaysian final with the top seeded veterans Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah facing off against their younger teammates Chan Peng Soon and Lim Khim Wah. In spite of their experience, the top seeds were not able to take the title this day with the youngsters taking the title in three games 20-22, 21-14, 21-11.
As is usually the case the women’s doubles was an another all China final with Yang Wei and Zhang Jiewen defeating their teammates Gao Ling and Wei Lili in three games 22-24, 21-17, 21-15. Finally in the mixed doubles was Thailand’s turn to take the prize with two pairs in the final. In the end it was Songphon Anugritayawon and Kunchala Voravichitchaikul winning over their teammates Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam 11-21, 21-17, 21-14.