The second SuperSeries Premier event of 2011 takes place this week in Birmingham as the All England Championships take centre stage this week. Lin Dan is looking to regain his title and take his second Super Series Premier title whilst defending champion Lee Chong Wei will be looking for revenge after his Korea Open defeat to Lin Dan.
Lee Chong Wei is the top seed this week and starts his campaign against Sho Sasaki of Japan before a potential second round match against the winner of Bao Chunlai and Sony Kuncoro, both players have been seeded in Super Series events in the past few years but such is the strength and depth of the draws in the Premier events, they meet in the first round this week. The 8th seed Boonsak Ponsana faces a tough test against Simon Santoso in his first round match and the winner will likely play Joachim Persson of Denmark for a place in the last 8. Continue reading »
Continue reading »
The opening Premier event of 2011 ushers in a new era for badminton, with added prize funds now over $1,000,000 there is suddenly a massive incentive to play in these “Premier” events that will ultimately attract the best players in the world. The opening round in Korea has provided the strongest field since the World Championships in August, perhaps even stronger than that due the depth of certain nations that allows them to field more than 4 players from their nation.
The clear favourite going into this week is Lee Chong Wei, dominant in Malaysia in his home event and looking to be in similar form to his impressive 2010 campaign. He will need to be at his very best for his opening round match when he takes on the world number 9 Jan O Jorgensen in his opening round match, such is the depth of talent in this event. Potentially all of his opponents this week will be ranked inside the top 25 in the world, nothing that could ever be boasted before this week. The question marks over Lin Dan’s withdrawals over the last couple of months should end here, with no Chinese players in his half of the draw for him to conveniently withdraw before player, the chance of seeing the dream final against Lee Chong Wei is a strong possibility. However, he must overcome a qualifier in Round 1 and the potential of playing his long-time rivals Taufik Hidayat and Peter Gade in the later rounds is going to test the 6th seed to the very limit.
There are other high-caliber matches in the opening round in the singles, world number 4 and 4th seeded Chen Long takes on the world number 7 Tien Minh Nguyen who did not receive a seed for this week’s event and the on-form Simon Santoso takes on Boonsak Ponsana who will be looking to play better than last week in Malaysia.
The women’s singles will undoubtably be a mainly Chinese affair, with 4 of the 6 top seeds coming from China. Only Saina Nehwal (seeded 4) and Tine Baun (seeded 5) potentially posing any sort of challenge before the all-Chinese matches later in the week than has been the story of much of the later half of 2010. Top seed Wang Xin could have an all-Chinese match as early as the second round with Liu Xin a potential opponent, there is also Lu Lan and Li Xuerui in the draw to boost the potential for a Chinese monopoly this week. Wang Shixian takes on the world number 16 Salakjit Ponsana in her opening round match whilst the world number 5 Tine Baun’s campaign begins against Li Xuerui, seeded just six places lower than her in the current rankings. Saina Nehwal’s campaign will not run into a Chinese opponent at least until the semi final, but will potentially have a meeting with Germany’s Juliane Schenk to reach the last 4.
Local favourites Lee and Jung are hoping to retain their title from last year where they triumphed as the top seeds, 12 months later and they are the 6th seeds and begin with a match against the 2005 world champions Bach and Gunawan with Kido and Setiawan as well as Koo and Tan in their half of the draw. There is also potential banana skins in the draw with the unseeded Chinese pairings throughout the draw, Zhang and Xu are also in the bottom half of the draw whilst the likes of last weeks winners Chai and Guo who were seeded last week in Malaysia and play their opponents from that final in Conrad-Petersen and Rasmussen in the opening round this week, with a potential matchup against Cai and Fu waiting in round 2. The top seeded Danish pair of Boe and Mogensen could almost boast to have an “easy” draw until the last 8, taking on the world #16 pairing of Gan and Tan of Malaysia in their opening round match.
The women’s doubles is one of the events this week where seedings simply don’t matter, this about how is on form that week, especially with the Chinese ladies playing at such a high level over the past few months. The two “favourites” for this week are the 6th seeded Wang/Xu and 7th seeds Cheng/Ma from China who are both in the top half of the draw whilst another Chinese pair is expected to come out of the bottom half for the expected all-Chinese final on Sunday. The other four seeds simply have to stop that happening, with top seeded pair Chien and Cheng taking on the Danish pair of Pedersen and Rytter Juhl and the 2nd seeds from Japan, Maeda and Suetsuna having to play into some sort of form before the expected matchup with the 5th seeded Chinese pair of Du and Pan.
Ma Jin’s excellent run with He Hanbin seemed to be a temporary one, as Yu Yang has returned as He Hanbin’s partner this week in what must be an increasingly annoying situation for one half of the current mixed doubles world champion. However her partner this week is the excellent Xu Chen but they begin their campaign against the 3rd seeded Polish pair of Mateusiak and Zieba. The main news from the mixed doubles draw is the withdrawal of the top seeded pair of Laybourn and Rytter Juhl, with Thomas Laybourn not recovering from an injury that cut his SuperSeries finals appearance short earlier in the month. The top half of the draw has been opened up for a Chinese monopoly with 4 pairings in the top half of the draw. 8th seeded He and Yu and 5th seeded Zhang and Zhao will look to capitalise on the opportunity. The bottom half is not without some excellent pairings also, with last week’s runners up Tian and Jaiming seeded 6. Ko and Ha are the big local hope, seeded 4th and taking on the German pairing of Fuchs and Michels in their opening round match.
With an invested interest in most of the matches today, the Chinese squad had plenty of reasons to be confident about progressing into several of tomorrow’s semi final matches. There were two all-Chinese matchups that didn’t take place, with Lin Xiu withdrawing from her match against Jiang Yanjiao and Lin Dan pulling out of his match against Chen Long, the second time in just over a month.
Lee Chong Wei’s run to the last 4 has been as impressive as ever, without the loss of a game to date and brushing aside the 8th seeded Tien Minh Nguyen in a one-sided two game matchup and the Malaysian’s sixth win over Nguyen in their 7 meetings. Taufik Hidayat disposed of Kenichi Tago in two games in his semi final and his reward is an all-Indonesian semi final against Simon Santoso. Chen Long will have to make the most of his extra day of rest as he takes on the top seeded Lee Chong Wei.
The women’s singles has turned into a four-women Chinese shootout for the title, with the top 4 seeds all progressing to this stage. Wang Xin takes on Wang Yihan whilst Wang Shixian takes on Jiang Yanjiao in tomorrow semi finals. Both of the matches tomorrow sees the lower seeded player with the better of their higher seeded opponent in their recent head to heads also.
Another seeded was toppled in the mens doubles, with Chandra and Gunawan losing out to Danish pair Conrad-Petersen and Rasmussen in a tight two game battle. The remaining two seeds will play each other in the second semi final, with 6th seeded Ahsan and Septano taking on Chai and Guo of China, the 5th seeds.
The women’s doubles has a similar feel to the singles, with all 4 pairings coming from China. Former partners Ma and Jin face off in their new pairings in the second of the semi finals, whilst the elder stateswomen of the Chinese game play in their first semi final with Zhao and Tian taking on Du and Pan for a place in Sunday’s final.
The European interest in the tournament has been poor in the previous four disciplines, but the mixed doubles can boast two couples from Europe. Unseeded pairing of Blair and White have been one of the stories of the week with their unlikely run in their first event taking them to the last 4 where they will play Jiaming and Tian, the 5th seeds from China. The other semi final sees the 7th seeded He and Ma take on the 6th seeded Danes, Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen who defeated the 3rd seeded Zhang and Zhao in China’s only defeat on quarter finals day.
After the withdrawal of Chen Jin and Lin Dan earlier in the week, the tournament needed a show final in the men’s singles. The top seeds left in the due delivered in their semi final matches. Lee Chong Wei’s 21-14, 21-17 win over the 8th seeded Tien Minh Nguyen put the top seed into the final and was joined later that evening by the 3rd seeded Taufik Hidayat, who defeated China’s Chen Long in a three-game, 69 minute encounter that Hidayat battled back from an opening game defeat to win and reach the final.
Wang Xin has been excellent in recent months when playing against any other players apart from just two, one of those players is Wang Shixian and it was the 3rd seed who defeated top seeded Wang Xin for the second week running to reach the women’s singles final, she will play the 2nd seeded Saina Nehwal who has continued her excellent form from her Commonwealth Games gold in October. The Indian defeated Juliane Schenk in three games to set up her second meeting against Wang Shixian, the first being a comprehensive win for the Chinese 3rd seed at the World Championships in August.
Lee and Jung will not make it two titles in two weeks as they lost in their semi finals to the 2nd seeded Kido and Setiawan in a tight two game match, the Indonesian pair take on another Korean pair in tomorrow’s final as Ko and Yoo beat the 2005 world champions Bach and Gunawan of the USA in two games to reach the final. Top seeded Cheng and Chien are through to the final of the women’s doubles after defeating the 3rd seeded Vislova and Sorokina in three games, taking just 39 minutes to complete. The top seeds take on the Chinese pair of Yu and Wang who demolished their Chinese team-mates and 5th seeded Pan and Tian in a 21-9, 21-8 victory in just 23 minutes, the pair have not dropped a game and have been on court just 91 minutes on route to the final.
The All-England champions Zhang and Zhao are through to the final this week after a two game win over Chien and Lee in their semi final and will take on the Danish pair of Pedersen and Fischer Nielsen who defeated the Chinese pair of Xu and Yu in three games, but the Danes made hard work of the third game as their 16-8 lead was brought back to 19-19 before regaining the lead and taking the match 21-19 in the third game.
Lin Dan ‘s withdrawal for the second week running has undermined the men’s singles draw, this week Chen Jin withdrew from his quarterfinal match against Lee Chong Wei, robbing the crowd of one of the best matches of the week. Tien Minh Nguyen is the main beneficiary of Lin Dan’s withdrawal with a free pass into the last 4.
Chen Long seems to be the only Chinese player that isn’t withdrawing and has progressed to the last 4 with a three game victory over Korean Lee Hyun Il, there was a second Korean defeat in the other quarter final as Taufik Hidayat defeated Park Sung Hwan in two games to set up the second semi final with Chen Long.
Jiang Yanjiao’s surprise defeat to Juliane Schenk will fuel the belief that the Chinese women are not unbeatable, the three game victory guarantees a non-Chinese player in the women’s singles final. Saina Nehwal takes on the 6th seeded Schenk after her two game win over Yip Pui Yin in her quarter final. The top half sees an all-Chinese semi final with Wang Xin and Wang Shixian, who both won comfortably in their respective quarter finals, with top seeded Wang Xin defeating the 5th seeded Pi Hongyan in just 29 minutes.
Lee and Jung have defeated Cai and Fu for the second week running, this time in just two games and have set up a semi final match against Kido and Setiawan, whose all-Indonesian quarterfinal didn’t happen after Gunawan and Chandra’s withdrawal. Ko and Yoo defeated Ahsan and Septano to end their excellent run in the event. Bach and Gunawan’s run in the event continues, after an impressive two game win over Chai and Guo to book their place in the last 4.
Wang and Yu may not have been seeded, but they are playing like a top 8 pair with another impressive two game win to book their place in the last 4 where they will play Pan and Tian, the 5th seeds. The other semi final sees the top two seeds from the top half take on each other, with Chien and Cheng the top seeds taking on Vislova and Sorokina, seeded 3.
Mateusiak and Zieba produced an excellent performance yesterday to make the last 8, but couldn’t match it today as they lost out to the 6th seeded Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen of Denmark in two games. The Danes take on the Chinese wildcards of Xu and Yu who have never been this far together as a partnership since losing in the final of the China Masters in September. The other semi final sees last weeks beaten finalists Zhao and Zhang take on the 8th seeded Lee and Chien of Chinese Taipei with both pairings coming through in three games from their quarter final matches.
Since her 2009 win in the world championships, Lu Lan has almost fallen off the Badminton world, after her absence from the world championships this year and from her non-appearance at this years world championship to defend her title she has dropped to China’s number 6 player.
That all changed today as she defeated the top seed Wang Yihan in stunning fashion with a 21-15, 21-9 victory to set up a quarter final matchup with another unseeded Chinese player, Jiang Yanjiao. In an equally impressive performance, Jiang Yanjiao took out the 6th seeded Pi Hongyan in two games, winning 21-6, 21-11 to set up the all-Chinese quarter final.
There also wins for Wang Xin, Wang Shixian and Tine Baun to progress into the last 8. There is also two Japanese players in the last 8, Eriko Hirose takes on the 2nd seeded Wang Xin whilst qualifier Shizuka Uchida takes on the 3rd seed Wang Shixian.
Anticipation was rife that Kenichi Tago could beat the top seed in Japan this week, but Lee Chong Wei took his record over the Japanese player to 6-0 with an impressive 21-10, 21-10 win to book his place in the last 8. Bao Chunlai is the top seeds next opponent after defeating Kazushi Yamada in two games. There was a two game victory for Lin Dan over Hu Yun to set up a third meeting with Park Sung Hwan in the last 4 weeks. Peter Gade is also through to the quarter finals after a three game victory over Japanese qualifier Takuma Ueda, he plays Tien Minh Nguyen who stopped an all-Danish quarter final with his two game victory over Jan O Jorgensen.
The two seeds remaining the men’s doubles progressed safely into the last 8, with Koo and Tan defeating Chen and Lin in two games and Cai and Fu disposing of Pratama and Saputro. Both seeds take on a Korean pair in the last 8, with Koo and Tan taking on Kim and Shin whilst Cai and Fu take on Cho and Kwon for a place in the last 4.
The women’s doubles lost three local pairs today, most notably the 4th seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa who were defeated in two games by Jang and Kim of Korea. The last remaining Japanese pair, Maeda and Suetsuna takes on the Macau pair of Zhang and Zhang for a place in the last 4. There were also wins for Cheng and Chien, the top seeds take on Kim and Lee of Korea in the last 4.
It has been a disappointing month for Widianto and Natsir, top seeds for the previous three events and failing to reach the final in any of them. Their most recent failure came today with a tame defeat to unseeded Chinese pair Zhang and Zhao. The new partnership of He and Ma came through a three game scare against Lee and Chien to book their place in the last 8, where they play Zhang and Zhao.
There were no shocks in the bottom half of the draw, with all four seeds progressing. Only Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen dropped a game against their Korean opponents Shin and Ha but they progressed to set up an all-Danish quarter final tomorrow.
Japan was well represented at their home Super Series, but only the mainstays on the tour have survived into Round 2. 7th seeded Eriko Hirose is the big hope in the women’s singles and is through to Round 2 with a two game win over Cheng Shao Chieh on the opening day.
Kenichi Tago faught back from a game down to ensure his place in the second round, his reward is a match with top seeded Lee Chong Wei who was impressive in his 21-5, 21-9 opening round victory. On the other side of this half of the draw, Lin Dan secured his place in the last 16 with a two game win and will play Hu Yun of Hong Kong is his second round match.
Sho Sasaki was the story of the day for the local crowd; defeating 4th seeded Taufik Hidayat in three tight games to secure his place in the last 16 against Park Sung Hwan. There were wins for Jan O Jorgensen and Tien Minh Nguyen also, but the unlikely story in the draw is Takuma Ueda. The Japanese qualifier defeated Eric Pang to set up a dream last 16 match up with 2nd seeded Peter Gade, who defated Wong Wing Ki in two games today.
Round 2 in the women’s draw is full of intrigue, as the draw has top seeded Wang Yihan likely to play three of her Chinese team-mates on route to the final. Tomorrow sees her play the 2009 World Champion Lu Lan, with the winner to play the winner of Pi Hongyan and Jiang Yanjiao. Wang Shixian is the likely opponent in the last 4 for any of those four ladies.
The bottom half is more simple, with Tine Baun, Wang Xin and Eriko Hirose all winning comfortably. The only casualty is 8th seeded Yao Jie who was defeated in two games by Sung Ji Hyun of Korea, who will now play Japan’s Sayaka Sato in the round of 16.
The men’s doubles has been decimated with a trio of big name upsets in the opening round. 6th seeded Fang and Lee crashed out in a three game loss to Kim and Shin of Korea before Lee and Jung, seeded 7 lost tamely into two games to their Thai opponents, Anugritayawon and Prapakamol. Then the third shock of the day came with 3rd seeded Boe and Mogensen crashing out in three games also to the unseeded Malaysian pair of Chan and Lim. The top half of the draw has just one seed remaining, the top seeded Koo and Tan who progressed safely in two games.
The 2nd seeds Kido and Setiawan pulled out pre-event, as well as 4th seeded Guo and Xu. Leaving just the 5th seeded Cai and Fu and the 8th seeded Chandra and Gunawan in the bottom half of the draw. Both pairs progressed safely to the second round with two game victories.
The expectancy of all the of the 7 seeds that started the week making the second round was not a bold expectation, only the 6th seeded Pan and Tian pulled out pre-event to stop the clean sweep of seeds into the second round. The two Japanese hopes in the draw have a potential clash in the semi final as 2nd seeded Maeda and Suetsuna and 4th seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa both progressed into round 2. 5th seeded Wang and Yu are also a pair to watch, they are into the last 16 with a 21-11, 21-7 victory in round 1.
The mixed doubles almost has a full compliment of seeds remaining, with only the 4th seeds Thai pairing of Anugritayawon and Voravichitchaikul crashed out in the two games to the unseeded Korean pair of Yoo and Kim. There was little problems for the 2nd and 3rd seeded pairs, who came through their opening round matches against their Japanese opponents. 8th seeded Tao and Tian had to save a match point in their opening round match against Susanto and Rijal, coming through 25-23 in the third game.
The draws for the 2010 World Championships were made in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, there were little doubts about the top seed in the men’s singles draw with Lee Chong Wei taking the #1 seed but there will be no rematch of the 2009 final in Paris on August 29.
Lee Chong Wei begins his campaign against Kevin Cordon, the world number 46 from Guatemala and could face a tricky second round match against world #22 Muhammad Hafiz Hashim in an all-Malaysian second round encounter. The other seed in Lee Chong Wei’s section is Jan O Jorgensen, seeded 11. The Dane has had a disappointing 2010 after bursting onto the world scene with victory over Peter Gade in Denmark and reaching the Chinese Super Series final in 2009. He begins his campaign against the Austrian Michael Lahnsteiner, ranked 86 in the world. His second round encounter will be a much tougher match with one of the best matches of the opening round with Eric Pang taking on Rajiv Ouseph for the chance to play Jorgensen or Lahnsteiner in Round 2.
Taufik Hidiyat received the 5th seed and with that, he plays Ola Fagbemi of Nigeria who is the lowest ranked player in the draw, ranked #122 in the world. His likely second round opponent is ranked almost 100 places higher in the world rankings, world #23 Yu Shin Hsieh of Chinese Taipei who takes on Portugal’s Pedro Martins in Round 1. The other seed is Kenichi Tago, one of the breakout stories of 2010 who is the #12 seed and faces the Czech national champion Petr Koukal, the world #48 in the opening round.
Lin Dan has barely played in 2010, but is still the Chinese #1 and seeded 3 for the Worlds and begins his campaign against Ali Shahhossieni of Iran, ranked 110 in the world before potentially playing the winner of the all-European match between Henrik Toth and Henri Hurskainen in the second round. The conspiracy theorists will claim that Lin Dan’s opening two matches could be the easiest run to the last 16 of any of the seeds, with only Hurskainen inside the top 50 in the world (ranked 50th). His first big test will be against Bao Chunlai, seeded 10 and the player who defeated him in the 2010 All England. The 10th seed begins against Yan Kit Chan who is current ranked 20th in the world in one of the hardest opening round match for any seed. If anything, the winner of this match will have an easier second round match, playing the winner of David Snider of Canada (ranked 89) and Scotland’s Alistair Casey (ranked 78).
Tien Minh Nguyen may not have won in Chinese Taipei to gain him more ranking points but is still seeded 7 and plays the world number 62 Ukrainian Valeriy Atrashchenkov in his opening round match. The winner of Raul Must and Dieter Domke is likely to play the Vietnamese player in round 2. Park Sung Hwan is the other seed in this section, the 13th seeded Korean takes on Derek Wong Zi Liang of Singapore, ranked 79 in the world with Park likely to play the winner of another all-European clash between Matthieu Lo Ying Ping and Vladimir Ivanov in the opening round.
The opening section from the bottom half of the draw is arguably the hardest one to come out of, with England’s Carl Baxter, ranked 27 in the world taking on Slovakia’s Michal Matejka for the chance to play the 9th seeded Boonsak Ponsana, should he defeat world number 52 Vladimir Malkov of Russia. The other seed is Simon Santoso, winner in Chinese Taipei and seeded 8. He takes on Poland’s Przemyslaw Wacha, ranked 37 in the world with the winner of that match taking on the winner of Scott Evans, ranked 45 in the world and Hsuan Yi Hsueh of Chinese Taipei, ranked 41 in the world.
The 14th seed Chetan Anand begins his campaign against Ashton Chen Ong Zhao, ranked 112th in the world in one of the bigger mismatches of the opening round and likely to play the winner of Dmytro Zavadsky and Stephan Wojcikiewicz, ranked 47 and 56 respectively. The other seed in the section is the 4th seeded Chen Jin who begins his campaign against Finland’s #1 and world #53 Ville Lang in his opening round. The other match and potentially Chen Jin’s second round opponent is between Kestutis Navickas of Lithuania, the world number 59 and Scotland’s #1 Kieran Merrilees, ranked 72 in the world.
Wong Choong Hann received the 16th seed and will take on France’s own Simon Maunoury in his opening round match in the French capital, but the world number 81 will need to play the match of his life to reach round 2. The other match to determine the winner of the Wong/Maunoury match is between Iran’s Kaveh Mehrabi, ranked 92nd in the world and Kazushi Yamada of Japan, ranked 30 in the world. Sony Kuncoro won in Macau two weeks ago and the 6th seed comes into the championships in excellent form and begins his campaign against Misha Zilberman of Israel, ranked 84th in the world in round 1. Another all-European clash is the last match in the section with world #25 Dicky Palyama of Holland taking on the 3rd Frenchman in the draw, US Open runner-up Brice Leverdez for a place in round 2.
The final section is the only one with two European seeds, with 15th seed Marc Zwiebler taking on the Czech Jan Vondra in his opening round match and a second all-European match guarantees at least one European in the last 16, with Sweden’s Magnus Sahlberg taking on Pablo Abian of Spain. Peter Gade comes into the competition as the number 2 seed and starts his campaign against Brazilian Daniel Paiola, ranked 74 in the world. The big news from this section of the draw is world number 15 Yun Hu not receiving a seeding for the event despite Chen Long not being able to play as China’s #4 and world #10 and plays Shon Wan Ho of Korea, the world number 35 in his opening match and a likely second round match against Peter Gade, which would likely be the match of the second round.