A new year offers a new start and a new motivation after the obvious comedown from an Olympic year. The goals for the year alter from London 2012 with all eyes on Guangzhou and the World Championships in early August. Before the summer spectacle, the Super Series and Super Series Premier will pit the best against the best in 2013.
The world’s elite converge in Korea for the first Super Series Premier of the year with the biggest prize fund of the year on offer. 2013 is a year of change within the badminton world, with new events and the last of certain Super Series before the new 2014 schedule. London gains a GP Gold event in early October that leads as a build-up event to the Denmark/France Super Series later in the month.
It will be the last Super Series in Malaysia before it’s upgrade to Premier status in 2013 and China loses its Super Series event this year with Australia claiming Super Series status in 2014 but the China Super Series Premier remains. There will be no Peter Gade in 2013, retiring late last year with a last famous victory over Lin Dan. The double-Olympic champion will pick and choose his events as always and is a noticeable absence in Korea this week.
Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long will be the favourites for the title in the men’s singles but a wealth of Chinese talent looking to defeat the top seed in the opening event of 2013. Wang Zhengming will be the first to claim a victory over the Malaysian and a likely Chinese opponent in the semi final should Lee Chong Wei reach the last 4. Victor Axelsen takes on Taufik Hidayat as the old guard meets the new generation in the match of the opening round.
The women’s singles offers the expected Chinese dominance, with four seeds from the eight but like the men’s singles, a new generation coming through to the overthrow the Chinese hierarchy in the event. Ratchanok Intanon buy xanax without prescription is the newest in line to attempt to defeat the world’s elite and Saina Nehwal will also continue her quest to become world number 1. Tine Baun plays her last Korea Open ahead of her retirement after the All Englands before Juliane Schenk takes over the mantle of the sole European threat at the Super Series level.
Lee and Ko’s meteoric surge up the rankings sees them seeded 6th but any thoughts of a dream final against Cai and Fu will be tempered with neither pair having an easy run to next Sunday’s final. Koo and Tan are the 2nd seeds in Korea and likely semi final opponents for the Koreans whilst Cai and Fu will probably have to defeat the top seeded Boe and Mogensen in order to reach the final.
The women’s doubles is the event to watch after the farcical events of the Olympics. Wang and Yu have returned to competitive action and their biggest rivals of the past few years have been split up to create two new partnerships. It offers Chinese a similar chance to dominate the doubles event as much as the singles with four partnerships that will likely feature in the top 10 in the coming months. Zhao Yunlei forms a new partnership with Cheng Shu, Tian Qing joins with Bao Yixin as well as Ma and Tang will offer Wang and Yu a stern test in 2013.
The mixed doubles offers the closest resemblance to 2012 with a similar field to the previous year. Chris Adcock and Gabby White are the top pairing from the six new English pairings whilst Jillie Cooper and Robert Blair will offer the only chance of Scottish success in the event. The usual suspects are all present in Korea, with Kamilla Rytter Juhl partnering Mads Pieler Kolding after Thomas Laybourn’s retirement after the London Olympics. Ma and Xu are the top seeds, with their Chinese rivals Zhang and Zhao seeded 4th in the 2013 opener.
Play begins in Korea on Tuesday, January 8.
The day begun with Cai and Fu reaching the men’s doubles Olympic final and ended with a pair of gold medals for China with the injury of Wang Xin the only low point in a day riddled with success for the Chinese.
Gold For Li Xuerui
The form player in 2012 justified her selection for the Olympics ahead of Wang Shixian and won China’s second gold in two days. It was talent over willpower in the women’s singles match, with Wang Yihan’s talent failing to defeat Li Xuerui’s will to win in a three-game classic. Saina Nehwal claimed the bronze medal, but not in the way the Indian would have hoped as Wang Xin retired at the beginning of the second game after claiming the opening game. A knee-injury hindered Wang Xin’s movement before she crumbled on court after the opening point in the second game that forced her into retirement and gave Nehwal the bronze medal.
Tian and Zhao Claims Women’s Doubles Gold
There was a Chinese winner in the women’s doubles, but not the pair that many expected. With the group stage farce decimating the draw, it was the 2nd seeded Tian and Zhao who claimed gold – with Zhao Yunlei winning her second gold of the Olympics after her mixed doubles success. An easy first game victory for the Chinese required a response from the Japanese pairing of Fujii and Kakiiwa to ensure there wasn’t a Chinese rout. A tighter second game ensued, but the Chinese eventually took the second game 25-23 to ensure China’s third gold. Sorokina and Vislova took the bronze medal, after a one-sided victory over the Canadian pair of Bruce and Li.
Boe and Mogensen stun Lee and Chung
The “dream final” in the men’s doubles was put on hold for at least four years by the Danish pair of Boe and Mogensen who defeated Lee and Chung in a sensation men’s doubles semi final which will be a contender for match of the tournament. The Korean pair took an early lead, claiming the first game only for the Danes to respond and take the second game. After squandering a match point, Boe and Mogensen earned a second match point and a Mogensen lift was left by Lee Yong Dae, only for the shuttle to hit the lead and send the Danes into tomorrow’s final. Cai and Fu will be their opponents tomorrow, after the Chinese pair defeated Koo and Tan in a one-sided semi final that the Chinese pair took with their third match point to ensure their second successive Olympic final.
Day 8 Results:
They are perhaps the only genuine contender to Wang and Yu in the women’s doubles, with a final between the two pairings already penciled in for August 4. The two 25-year olds claimed the 2010 Asian Championships over Wang and Yu at the start of their partnership but have been second best to their Chinese team-mates since.
They are undoubtedly the second force in the women’s game, with their head to heads against the rest of the field being almost all in favour of Tian and Zhao. Their most recent victory at the 2012 All England Championships was a double success, not only did they claim their first All England title but they also defeated Wang and Yu in the process.
For Zhao Yunlei, this is one of two chances at Olympic gold in London but for Tian Qing this is her only chance at Olympic success after dropping the mixed doubles discipline in 2011 to focus purely on the women’s doubles. There is striking comparisons between the two pairings, with both Tian Qing and Wang Xiaoli giving up mixed doubles to focus on the women’s doubles whilst for Yu and Zhao are the more complete players of the partnership, with Yu Yang managing to have two rankings inside the top 50 in the world in the mixed doubles last year with two separate partners.
Can Tian and Zhao Win Gold?
There is an expectancy that their 11th meeting with Wang and Yu will be for Olympic gold. They have won just two of their ten official meetings but with one coming at the All Englands in March, they will believe that they have a chance to win gold. 2012 has been a successful season for the pairing, winning the opening two Super Series Premier events before losing in Indonesia to Wang and Yu.
Can They Beat Wang and Yu?
There is one striking statistic that stands out in their matches, every single game that has gone to extra points has been won by Wang and Yu. In a run of four matches from September to November last year, all four matches needed extra points in the opening game which Wang and Yu won on all four occasions and only one of those matches went to three games. Tian and Zhao must win the first game to have any chance of defeating Wang and Yu and ideally must do it in two games, like their All England success in March. It will be dependent mostly on Zhao Yunlei, who must balance both her mixed doubles and women’s doubles in a week that will see her play at least six matches in the group stages alone.
The all-conquering partnership of Wang and Yu are one of the favourites for a Chinese medal in just over 2 weeks time but as dominant as their 2012 season has been, there have been someone unlikely results to give the rest of the field hope going into the Olympics.
Their partnership begun in 2010 after Wang Xiaoli, then partnered with Ma Jin and also playing mixed doubles with Tao Jiaming. Wang Xiaoli reached the World Championship Women’s Doubles final in Paris that year, only to be defeated by Du and Yu in a one-sided final. Yu Yang was already an Olympic champion in women’s doubles with Du Jing but after the 2010 World Championships, the decision was made to pair Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli together, with Wang Xiaoli also dropping the mixed doubles event to focus solely on women’s doubles.
For a 52-week period, Wang and Yu did not lose a match that they completed. Their retirement in the final of the China Masters to Huan and Tang was the only time they took to a court and were defeated. They dominated at the 2011 World Championships without the loss of a game but their 2012 season started with disaster in Korea with a shock defeat to Korea’s Ha and Kim, followed two months later with their second defeat in a Super Series Premier final to their perennial rivals, Tian and Zhao.
Their Chinese counterparts are the closest that the world number 1 pairing have to a rivalry at the moment, with nearly all of their 10 meetings coming in finals. Tian and Zhao are the only pair to have defeated Wang and Yu on two separate occasions and most noticeably the only pair that is a genuine threat to the gold medal hopes of the world number 1 pairing.
However in their most recent encounters, Wang and Yu gained revenge for their defeats earlier in the year to both the Korean pair of Ha and Kim as well as team-mates Tian and Zhao to enter the Olympics as the undoubted favourites for the gold medal.
Just How Good Are Wang and Yu?
The partnership has been together for 98 official matches, winning 93 of them. One of those five defeats is their retirement in China and another came very early into the partnership but was another retirement to Goh and Chin of Malaysia. They have been beaten just three times in around two years and by only two pairs, the world number 2 pair of Tian and Zhao have two victories whilst the world number 3 pair of Ha and Kim have claimed the only other victory.
Can These Two Pairs Beat Wang and Yu Again?
Both the head to head records would suggest otherwise, with Ha and Kim’s 1-7 record against the world number pairing and claiming just four games in those eight encounters and heir victory was in Korea in front of a partizan crowd. Tian and Zhao’s 2-8 record is somewhat deceiving, their two most recent encounters have resulted in a victory for Tian and Zhao and a tight three game victory for Wang and Yu. Four of their encounters have gone to extra points in the opening game that had Tian and Zhao won could have changed the complexity of the match completely.
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.
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.
It was a week for parity to be restored within all five events, with none of the top seeds claiming an All England title to make the run-up to the Olympics all the more exciting.
Turning The Tide In The Chinese Squad
The biggest shocks of the day came in the women’s events, none more so than Tian and Zhao’s demolition of the world number 1 pairing of Wang and Yu. The 21-19, 21-13 scoreline was a accurate representation of the difference, with Wang Xiaoli looking especially flustered by the occasion. Li Xuerui topped Wang Yihan in the women’s singles final as the balance of power within these events is turning towards the lower seeded players and pairings. Li Xuerui was outside the top 10 just 3 months ago but has claimed victories over the world number 4 Saina Nehwal and world number 1 this week.
Indonesia And Korea Claim Titles
The hope of a European winner this week ended in a 43-minute final that seen Ahmad and Natsir defeated the Danish pairing of Laybourn and Rytter Juhl, with the Dane’s impressive run ending at the final hurdle. Lee and Jung took an 11-10 lead in their rivalry over Cai and Fu as they topped the top seeds in three games to tip the balance back on their side just ahead of the Olympics.
A Disappointing End
Even before the match started, there were injury concerns with Lee Chong Wei and throughout the opening game there were signs that the match wasn’t going to go the distance. The Malaysian received treatment during the opening game and after losing the opener 21-19, received yet more treatment. The second game lasted all but 8 points with Lin Dan ahead 6-2 before Lee Chong Wei’s retirement through injury. It is another disappointing exit for one of the world’s great players at the All England, with Gade’s defeating on the opening night.
Three of the biggest rivalries in the game are to be renewed on the finals stage as China’s hope to claim 5 titles ends today.
Lee Takes On Lin
The top two players in the world will meet for the 28th time and the 4th time at the All Englands. Both have secured their place in the final without the loss of a game this week and Lee Chong Wei complete their route to the finals with a victory over Lee Hyun Il, whilst Lin Dan defeated Kenichi Tago to reach tomorrow’s final. Lee Chong Wei has never strung two victories together against Lin Dan, he will hope to change that after defeating Lin Dan in Korea in their previous encounter in January.
All Chinese Finals In All England
Wang Yihan takes on Li Xuerui tomorrow’s women’s singles final after the world number defeated Wang Shixian in her semi final whilst Li Xuerui beat Tai Tzu Ying in the second of the semi finals. The 7th seed does not hold a good record against the top seeded Wang Yihan in previous encounters, losing all of her previous four encounters. Wang and Yu renew their rivalry with Tian and Zhao in the women’s doubles final, with both pairs meeting little resistance on route to the final. It will be their 9th meeting with Wang and Yu winning their last 7 matches.
The 21st Encounter
Cai and Fu take on Lee and Jung for the 21st time in the All England final, with their historic rivalry tired at 10 wins apiece. Cai and Fu have won the previous two matches but this is their first meeting in the All England final, with both pairs not losing a game this week on route to tomorrow’s final with Lee and Jung being especially impressive in their victory over Boe and Mogensen in their semi final.
The mixed doubles final is the only final without Chinese interest, with Laybourn and Rytter Juhl ending the run of the 2011 champions Xu and Ma at the semi final stage in a two game victory. The 4th seeded Ahmad and Natsir will be the Danes opponent in the final after ending the run of the Malaysian pair of Chan and Goh. It will be their 3rd meeting with the Danish pair taking their most recent match in China last November.
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.