With interest in three of the five finals, Korea looked to be a position with Lee Yong Dae and Ha Jung Eun to claim one if not more titles only to be denied by the Chinese juggernaut.
Lee Chong Wei Claims Title
The first meeting of 2012 between Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei went the way of the Malaysian in a three game, 75 minute encounter that bodes well for the world number 1 in an Olympic year. It is the 9th victory over Lin Dan in their 27 encounters and breaks a streak of three consecutive losses to the Olympic champion.
Four Titles For China
Wang Shixian claimed the women’s singles in a one-sided all-Chinese encounter against Jiang Yanjiao, taking the title 21-12, 21-17 in 38 minutes. Tian and Zhao claimed the first title of 2012 in the women’s doubles over Ha and Kim in a two game 50-minute encounter which will be a real confidence boost for the Chinese pair after several defeats at this stage in 2011. Lee and Ha were defeated in three games by Xu and Ma of China in the mixed doubles, losing out in a 72-minute match 21-12, 19-21, 21-10.
Cai and Fu levelled their rivalry with Lee and Jung at 10-10 with a victory in the first final of the day in the men’s doubles. Another tight three game match was decided in 78 minutes with the Chinese pairing taking the title 18-21, 21-17, 21-19 to ensure there was no Korean success on home soil in 2012.
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.
There was no suspicious circumstances over the five Chinese victories on finals day in Hong Kong as China cemented their place back at the top of world badminton going into their home Super Series next week.
Lin Dan and Wang Xin Claim Singles Titles
It was a surprise to see Lin Dan take on Lee Chong Wei this week, but there was no surprise in the final as Lin Dan defeated Chen Jin 21-12, 21-19 in 31 minutes to claim his first title since the world championships in London. Wang Xin ended the superb run of Tine Baun in the women’s singles in the one-sided final that the 3rd seed took 21-17, 21-14 in 30 minutes.
Chinese Revenge In Doubles
Cai and Fu’s recent history against their Korean opponents Lee and Jung had been poor, losing the last 2 Super Series finals against the 2nd seeded pair. Today however, was the top seeds day as they claimed a three-game 69-minute marathon with the Chinese pair winning the deciding game 21-19. Wang and Yu claimed their 8th victory over Tian and Zhao in the women’s doubles final, with the 2nd seeded pair retiring from a game down at 14-2 down in the second game to allow the top seeds to claim yet another title in a historic year for the Chinese pairing. Zhang and Zhao had been defeated twice previously by their Danish opponents Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen in previous Super Series in Denmark and France at the semi final stage. After the opening game, the Danes looked set to make it three straight victories over the world champions but the Chinese pair responded and took the next two games to take the title ahead of their home Super Series next week. The 64-minute, three game match was won 15-21, 21-17, 21-17 by Zhang and Zhao.
The biggest and best field since the World Championships have converged in Odense for the 4th Premier event of the year, with all eyes focussing on the local hopes such as Peter Gade, Tine Baun and the new star of Danish badminton, Viktor Axelsen.
Lee Chong Wei is still recovering from his heartbreaking loss against Lin Dan in London and suffered another blow when he lost to Chen Long in Japan last month in another tight three game match. The Malaysia is still the top seed this week and starts his campaign against India’s Kashyap Parupalli. The Chinese attendance this week is vast, with four seeds in the men’s singles headlined by the world champion Lin Dan who will be no walkover this week after a pair of questionable withdrawals to other Chinese players in Japan and in his local Super Series event last month. A qualifier awaits Lin Dan in the first round whilst the other Chinese seeds all start with tough openers with 3rd seeded Chen Long taking on Shon Wan Ho in the first round.
There is more Chinese interest in the draw and it merges with the local interest as Wang Zhengming takes on the local favourite Peter Gade in the opening round. It will undoubtably be the headline match of the opening day of action with Gade looking to do well in what could be his last Danish Open. Two other Danes in the draw also have tough asks to reach the second round with Hans-Kristian Vittinghus taking on Taufik Hidayat, who is under immense pressure this week to perform and next week in France as he defends most of the ranking points that ensures his top 10 ranking in the next two weeks. Viktor Axelsen takes on Przemyslaw Wacha in his first round, with Axelsen holding a 2-0 head to head against the Pole.
China have five of the eight seeds this week, with Tine Baun barely making the seedings at 8 to the relief of the local support. Saina Nehwal and Juliane Schenk are the remaining two seeds hoping to break the hold in this event from the Chinese. World champion Wang Yihan has regained the world number 1 spot but faces the world number 10 Bae Joun Yoo in the opening round this week in one of the biggest matches of the opening round in the event.
The two European hopes have been a pair of qualifiers with the 6th seeded Juliane Schenk taking on Chen Jiayuan of Singapore while the 8th seeded Tine Baun takes on Lariga Griga of Ukraine, with Baun winning their previous meeting in the 2009 All Englands. Should Baun win her opening match, her second round match will be tough as she will face the winner of Inthanon Ratchanok of Thailand and Carolina Marin of Spain.
Boe and Mogensen will hope that a return home will change their form after a below par summer has seen them plummet to the 3rd seeds this week. Cai and Fu will be the pair to best as always in the big events, who take on Kawamae and Sato in the opening round who defeated Boe and Mogensen in their most recent event in Japan last month. Speculation of the Korean pairs going into an Olympic year has hinted that Ko and Lee would partner up with the intent of going for a medal in 2012. They partnered up together in Japan last month and reached the last 8 but they have resumed their previous partnerships in Denmark this week.
2nd seeded Lee and Jung start against the Japanese pairing of Hirobe and Kazuno whilst the 4th seeded Ko and Yoo take on the English pairing of Adcock and Ellis, with a potential match between the two Korean pairs waiting in the semi final. Boe and Mogensen have been given perhaps one of the easier routes into the second round with a match against the Thai qualifiers of Anugritayawon and Prapakamol, both proven mixed doubles players.
The Chinese juggernaut of Wang and Yu return to Europe for the first time since their victory in London in August, they are the undoubted favourites this week and for the Olympics in ten months time already. They start this week against the Hong Kong pairing of Tse and Poon who reached the Japan Open semi final last month. Their biggest threat as always will be from team-mates Zhao and Tian, seeded 2 this week. Their opening round match this week comes against Hsieh and Wang of Chinese Taipei before a potential tough second round match against Marissa/Melati or Michels/Marinello.
Zhang and Zhao complete a clean sweep of Chinese top seeds this week, with Danish interest laying with the 3rd seeded Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen but the threat of 5th seeded Ma and Xu will be a serious one also. Zhang and Zhao start against Triyachart and Yao of Singapore whilst the other Chinese seeds of Ma and Xu take on the Chinese Taipei pairing of Lee and Chien.
Danish hopes lie with the 3rd seeds, who take on Matsuo and Sato of Japan with Shoji Sato one half of the Japanese pair that defeated Boe and Mogensen in Japan last month, so Danish fans will be wary of a repeat performance. The 2009 world champions Rytter Juhl and Laybourn are also in the draw, but face a tough opener against the 4th seeded Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam. The world championship silver medalists are in action in an all-British first round clash, with Adcock and Bankier taking on White and Blair for a place in the second round.
China claimed their second straight clean sweep of the gold medals but that has not been the only story of this year’s world championships with several players and partnership stealing the headlines throughout the week.
If the match between Cai/Fu and Lee/Jung in the 2009 world championships final was the greatest match of that event, the 2011 final between Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan has to be considered the greatest match in recent memory in the men’s singles. The 81-minute match had everything you’d want from a final and the drama of the last few points only confirmed the greatness of the match. Lee Chong Wei had two chances to be world champion, only for Lin Dan to save those match points and take the title 23-21.
The main disappointment of the week was Taufik Hidayat’s early exit to Zi Liang Derek Wong of Singapore in two games, asking the question if the Indonesian will continue playing until the 2012 Olympics. For Peter Gade, his last chance of a world championship ended at the semi final stage to Lin Dan but was just six points away from the final, leading 15-14 in the third game before the 2nd seeded Lin Dan scored seven unanswered points.
Wang Yihan claimed the women’s title in one-sided final over Cheng Shao Chieh of Chinese Taipei to claim her first world title ahead of three other high seeded Chinese players. The 2nd seeded Chinese player dropped just a single set on route to the final in her 2nd round match against Inthanon Ratchnok whilst her opponent reached the final with the loss of a game including victories over Wang Shixian and Juliane Schenk.
It was yet further disappoint for Wang Shixian, whose recent run of form since winning the All England in March has been poor. Two defeats to Cheng Shao Chieh, one defeat to Tine Baun and a surprise defeat to Lu Lan in the Asian Games was far from the best preparation for this week. Wang Yihan however, came in with the best preparation with a victory in the Indonesian Premier event and with her victory this week will put behind her the poor 2010 season.
Cai and Fu claimed their 4th world title after a shaky start in the opening two rounds before hitting their best form and defeating the top two Korean pairs in the semi final and final to win their 3rd straight world title. Ko and Yoo played exceptional all week but the Chinese pair were too strong in the final and questions will now be asked over the future of the partnerships in this discipline, with Ko and Lee teaming up in the events leading up to the world championships.
Boe and Mogensen’s defeat in the quarter final compounds their recent run of poor form, since failing to win a single match in the Sudirman Cup the pairing has almost been in free fall, but there were signs ever before that in their shock defeat to Bosch and Ridder in the Swiss Open. The new pairing of Conrad-Petersen and Rasmussen had a better run this week and could be a changing of the guard in Danish badminton.
Wang and Yu played against one another in the final of this event last year, but since teaming up have been almost unstoppable. Losing just one match since combining as a partnership and were the runaway favourites for the women’s doubles title and failed to disappoint. Their 22-20, 21-11 victory over Tian and Zhao, the only pairing to ever beat them was a warning to the rest of the women’s doubles field that they are the undoubted best partnership in the world, by a long way.
Both partnerships were rarely troubled on route to the final, with both failing to drop a game in reaching the final. The Japanese pairings of Maeda and Suetsuna as well as Fujii and Kakiiwa weren’t in the same league as the two Chinese pairs and that clearly showed in their quarter and semi final matches. The best two partnerships in the world met in the final and that seems to be the way it will be for the near future.
Zhang and Zhao might have claimed the gold in the mixed doubles, but the heroics of Adcock and Bankier will be the story of the championships. The Chinese pair were the undoubted favourites coming into this week, with victory in the Asian Games and the most recent Premier event in Indonesia. Their opponents in the final defeated four seeds just to reach the final and with every victory their confidence grew, as did the emotional and physical fatigue. Zhang and Zhao needed just 7 games to reach the final whilst Adcock and Bankier needed 11 and almost a hour more on court.
For Imogen Bankier, this is not new territory as one of her previous partnerships with Robert Blair propelled them into the top 20 of the world ranking but this partnership is clearly the future of British badminton with Robertson and Wallwork’s shock defeat in their opening match this week. Tian and Jiaming as well as Ahmad and Natsir will wonder how they were defeated by the British pair in such a convincing manner, with the Olympics being held in the same arena in just a years time with Adcock and Bankier looking to go one better than in 2011.
The fairytale at the start of the week was Kevin Cordon’s unlikely run to last 8 but even his heroics haven’t matched the performances of Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier this week as they are one match away from being world champions.
Lee Chong Wei defeated the current world champion in convincing style in the morning session to book his place in the final by the score of 21-13, 21-9. His opponent in the final will be the 2nd seeded Lin Dan who had to come through Peter Gade in three games, after the Dane took the opening game but Lin Dan responded in the second and reeled off seven straight points at 14-15 down in the third game to book his place against Lee Chong Wei. Their 24th meeting will be for a world title, with the pair splitting their last 4 matches but the Malaysian won their last encounter in the All England Championships in March.
Wang Yihan won the all-Chinese semi final against Wang Xin to take a 5-0 lead in their head to head matches. The 2nd seed will take on the 7th seeded Cheng Shao Chieh, who defeated Juliane Schenk in convincing fashion to continue her excellent run after defeating the top seeded Wang Shixian in the quarter final stage. Wang Yihan holds a 3-0 record against her Chinese Taipei opponent, with their most recent matchup in the Asian Games being won by Wang Yihan in two games.
The Korean pair of Ko and Yoo reached the men’s doubles final with a two game victory over Ahsan and Septano, the 7th seeded pair from Indonesia. Their opponents in tomorrow’s final will be the top seeded Cai and Fu who are looking for their 3rd straight world title after defeating the 3rd seeded pair of Lee and Jung in two games and taking the advantage in their head to head to 8-7 to the Chinese pair. Cai and Fu will go in as undoubted favourites with a 4-0 advantage in their head to head.
The women’s doubles final is an All-Chinese affair, with the top seeded Wang and Yu defeating the 3rd seeded Maeda and Suetsuna in two games to book their place in the final against the 5th seeded Tian and Zhao, who defeated the unseeded Indian pair of Gutta and Ponnappa. Wang and Yu have won every single match they have played in 2011 except one, against the pairing of Tian and Zhao in Malaysia early in the year but since then Wang and Yu have defeated their opponents in the final twice.
The mixed doubles final sees the top seeded Zhao and Zhang take on the story of the championships in the pairing of Adcock and Bankier, who defeated their 4th seeded pair this week to be their place in tomorrow’s final. Adcock and Bankier’s stunning victory over the second seeded Ahmad and Natsir booked their place in the final whilst the Chinese pair had to play just one game against the 6th seeded Xu and Ma before an ankle injury to Ma Jin cut the match short. The Chinese pair have won both their previous matches but one of their victories was a retirement and the other meeting was in 2010 that the Chinese pair won 24-22 in the deciding game.
Even without their top players, China were well represented on finals day with at least two titles guaranteed ahead of play.
Their first success came in the women’s doubles, as Tian and Zhao convincingly defeated their team-mates and 7th seeded Cheng and Yixin 21-7, 21-8 to claim their first title together since the Malaysian Open in January. In the mixed doubles, the 4th seeded pairing of Lee and Chien proved too strong for Widianto and Marissa of Indonesia as the Chinese Taipei pair won 21-10, 23-21 in just 31 minute to secure the title.
The closest match of the day came in the women’s singles, where 7th seeded Li Xuerui took on the 2nd seeded Jiang Yanjiao. It was the world number 6 Jiang who took the opening game 21-14 but her opponent and world number 16 stormed back to take the second game by the same margin of 21 points to 14. The momentum was clearly with the 7th seed as she stormed into an 11-5 lead and never looked back as she claimed the title and a invaluable victory over her Chinese team mate, winning the third game 21-14 to take the title.
Chen Long made it a triple success for China as he claimed the men’s singles title in impressive fashion, defeated the 3rd seeded Lee Hyun Il 21-8, 21-19 to end the Korean’s run of victories over Chinese opponents this week. Lee and Jung have begun their preparation for the world championships well with a two game victory over Chandra and Gunawan, seeded 4th this week. The Korean pair are looking to claim their first world title after being denied the last three years by top pairings and this is an excellent start to their campaign to be world champions, with 3 wins over seeded opponents this week.
The argument of the best player in the world was a fascinating sub-plot this week as the two best players in the world renewed their rivalry in Seoul for the first Super Series Premier title and the biggest prize fund in badminton history. Olympic champion Lin Dan took on the Commonwealth champion and world #1 Lee Chong Wei for a chance to gain the upper hand in their rivalry going into the 2011 season.
The final between Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei was a 74-minute classic, with both players claiming an equal share of the points tally with 56 points apiece. The match was finely posed at 16-15 to Lee Chong Wei in the deciding game before Lin Dan strung together his longest run of points in the entire match to claim victory 21-16 in the third and deciding end to win the men’s singles title. Perhaps giving him the edge in the argument over who is the best player in the world but Lee Chong will want his revenge as soon as possible as the debate continues on.
There was double success in the singles as Wang Yihan defeated Wang Shixian as the top two women’s players meet in the final, with the current world #2 taking the title in a two-game, 51 minute match winning 21-14, 21-18. The locals also had plenty to cheer about as the 6th seeded Lee and Jung retained their title in the men’s doubles with a stunning one-sided match up over the top seeded Boe and Mogensen. The Korean pair only trailed in the early part of the second set before completing their stunning win in just 33 minutes, winning 21-6, 21-13.
Wang and Yu put their finals defeat in Malaysia behind them as they took the women’s doubles title in another all-Chinese match up, defeating Tian and Zhao in a three-game match lasting 67 minutes but the third and final game was far from a competitive one, with Wang and Xu taking the decider 21-4 to win their first SuperSeries title of 2011. Tian would suffer a double disappointment as her and partner Jiaming Tao lost out in the mixed doubles final to her women’s doubles partner Zhao Yunlei and her partner Zhang Nan in a closely fought three game match, taking 70 minutes with Zhang and Zhao taking the deciding game 21-19 to claim their first title of 2011.
The best two players in the men’s game renew their rivalry in the first Super Series Premier event of 2011, the occurrence of these matches has decreased greatly since 2009, with only 3 matches between the pair in 2010. Lin Dan took 2 of those three matches last year but both have been in excellent form this week.
Lin Dan was on court for 75 minutes in his three-game win over Simon Santoso which some say could be a defining point for tomorrow’s match with Lin Dan’s lack of match experience in the past few months. Lee Chong Wei had little problem in booking his place in the final with a comfortable 21-10, 21-10 win over the unseeded Du Pengyu. The two form players in the women’s singles meet for the second time in eight days as Wang Shixian and Wang Yihan play in their second SuperSeries final of 2011. Wang Yihan had to battle through against her Korean opponent Sung Ji Hyun in three games in a match taking 70 minutes to complete, whilst Wang Shixian had little problems in her semi final match against Porntip Buranaprasertsuk, winning the match in just 28 minutes.
The sole European representative comes in the men’s doubles final, as top seeded Boe and Mogensen take on the home favourites and last years winners Lee and Jung of Korea. The top seeded Danes ended the chance of an all-Korean final in their semi final victory over Ko and Yoo in their semi final whilst Lee and Jung battled through in three games over the 2nd seed and Commonwealth championships Koo and Tan. The expected all-Chinese final in the women’s doubles has materialised, with Wang and Yu defeating top seeded Cheng and Chien in three games to set up a match with Tian and Zhao, who defeated their higher seeded team-mates Du and Pan to reach the final to set up a repeat matchup of the Malaysian SuperSeries final which Tian and Zhao won.
Tian Qing’s incredible start to 2011 continues as she has reached the finals of both the women’s and mixed doubles in both events this year, although she will hope to go one better than last week in the mixed doubles with partner Jiaming Tao. The 6th seeds ended the Korean interest in the event with a two game win over Ko and Ha to set up the final against Zhang and Zhao, who defeated the formidable new partnership of Xu and Ma in their semi final, winning convincingly in two games.
Lee and Jung spoiled the Chinese party in Shanghai as the host nation looked to repeat their five title haul from September’s Super Series also held in China. Unseeded Chai and Zhang were comfortably beaten by the 4th seeds in two games to ensure that there was no five title repeat.
The other four finals, guaranteed Chinese success. Ma and Zhong pulled out of their women’s doubles final to gift the title to the 2nd seeded Cheng and Zhao. Unseeded Tian and Tao defeated their 5th seeded opponents Zhang and Zhao in two games to secure the mixed doubles title.
Chen Long won his first Super Series title with a three-game victory over Bao Chunlai, a result that looked improbable after the 5th seed lost the opening game 21-9 but bounced back to take the next two games to claim his first title in a 75 minute encounter. Jiang Yanjiao put her name into consideration as a potential world number one after claiming an excellent two game victory over the 3rd seeded Wang Shixian in a 53-minute encounter.