It was a second day of big name casualties in Birmingham, with Denmark’s Boe and Mogensen being the biggest scalp of the day. Liu and Qiu claimed one of just eight Chinese victories in their win over the Danes as they stranglehold on world badminton is as loose as ever in recent memory.
Lee Chong Wei Into Last 8
Lee Chong Wei’s spectacular 2013 continued with a two-game victory over Wang Zhengming, his 11th win of the year without a loss to date. Vietnam’s Tien Minh Nguyen will be the Malaysian’s opponent in the last 8, with the previous seven encounters going to the world number 1, all in two games. Jan O Jorgensen is Europe’s last hope of any success in the competition and benefitted from Sony Dwi Kuncoro’s retirement in their match to set up a quarter final against Chen Jin of China, who defeated another Chinese player, Chen Yuekun on route to the last 8.
Chen Long takes on India’s Kashyap Parupalli in the quarter final after he defeated Kenichi Tago in his second round clash whilst Chen Long beat Japan’s Takuma Ueda to book his place in the last 8.
Baun Reaches Last 8
Li Han provided an ample test for Tine Baun in their second round clash, but the 25-year old Chinese player was no match for Tine Baun, in her final All England Championships. Her half of the draw has opened up with the Chinese seeds already out, with Wang Yihan’s conquerer waiting in the quarter final stage. Sung Ji Hyun is the only other remaining seed in the top half, with the 5th seed taking on Eriko Hirose of Japan in the second of the quarter finals.
A full compliment of seeds in the bottom half means two excellent encounters, with Wang Shixian taking on Saina Nehwal and Racthanok Intanon taking on Juliane Schenk for two places in the semi finals. Nehwal has beaten Wang Shixian in their previous three encounters whilst it will be the 7th meeting between Schenk and Intanon, with their most famous encounter coming at the 2012 Olympics that the Thai player won in two games.
Seeds Topple In Doubles
Just three seeds remain in the men’s doubles, with Endo and Hayakawa being the highest seeds left. The 4th seeded Japanese pair take on the 6th seeded Kim and Kim to ensure another seed falls before the last 4. Ahsan and Setiawan are the sole seeds left in the top half of the draw and take on Hoon and Tan of Malaysia for a place in the last 4.
Even the women’s doubles has had it’s share of seeds crash out, the 4th seeded Eom and Jang being the latest pair to crash out at the hands of Hoo and Woon of Malaysia. Wang and Yu take on Jung and Kim in the featured match of the four quarter finals and have played once since their Olympic farce, with the Chinese pair winning in two games.
Chan and Goh’s were the biggest casualty of the mixed doubles draw today, losing to Indonesia’s Kurniawan and Irawati who are rewarded with a quarter final match against the current Olympic champions Zhang and Zhao of China. Xu and Ma also reached the last 8, with an all-Chinese semi final looming should they defeat Rijal and Susanto as well as Zhang and Zhao winning their quarter final clash.
Day 2 Results:
The first full day of play begun in Birmingham with the organisers hoping not to repeat the farcical start to the 2012 tournament. Play begun at 9am on Wednesday and mercifully ended on Wednesday, albeit well after 11pm but the first day of this years edition of the All England will be remembered for the amount of seeds crashing out on the opening day of play.
Seeds Tested in Men’s Singles
Kenichi Tago was the sole seed that progressed into the second round without the loss of a game, defeating Viktor Axelsen in his opening round match. Hu Yun and Du Pengyu were the big name casualties of the first round, with Lee Chong Wei, Chen Long, Sony Dwi Kuncoro, Chen Jin and Tien Minh Nguyen all needing three games to progress to the last 16.
Lee Chong Wei takes on Wang Zhengming in the pick of the second round matches, with Chen Long also likely to be tested against Takuma Ueda of Japan. Jan O Jorgensen flys the flag for Europe and takes on Sony Dwi Kuncoro in a miserable day for European badminton, with just six wins coming in 29 matches over the course of the opening days play.
Chinese Misery In Women’s Singles
There is usually five to seven Chinese players left in the draw at the last 16 stage, but this week just three remain. Li Han takes on Tine Baun whilst the other two Chinese players, Wang Shixian and Jiang Yanjiao play against one another in the second round. The major shocks in the competition come at the expense of China with Olympic champion Li Xuerui losing in two games to Bae Yeon Ju whilst the third seeded Wang Yihan lost to Indonesia’s Lindaweri Fanetri, also in two games.
Both Saina Nehwal and Wang Shixian needed three games to ensure their passage into the second round but there was no such trouble for the European seeds. Juliane Schenk set up a tough second round match against P.V. Sindhu and Tine Baun’s future in the All England and her career will be tested to the full by Li Han of China.
Lee/Ko Crash Out
A pre-match withdrawal from Cai and Fu weakened the event but the shock loss of Lee and Ko to Germany’s Kindervater and Schoettler was perhaps the biggest positive from a European standpoint on the day. The loss of Cai and Fu as well as Lee and Ko has made the top half of the men’s doubles draw all the easier for the top seeded Boe and Mogensen, who take on China’s Liu and Qiu in tomorrow’s second round.
Moren and Szkudlarczyk provided their own shock in the bottom half, with a three game victory over the 5th seeded Hong and Shen to ensure there would not be a full compliment of seeds in the bottom half of the draw. Koo and Tan defeated Ellis and Adcock to end English hopes in the competition, with Robert Blair partnering Tan Bin Shen who take on the 4th seeded Endo and Hayakawa in the second round.
Asian Dominance In Women’s Doubles
The second seeded Danish pair of Pedersen and Rytter Juhl crashed out to Bao and Tian in the opening round, ending any hope of a European threat in the women’s doubles. Wang and Yu progressed safely into the second round, joined there by Ma and Tang as well as Cheng and Zhao. Zhao and Tian were previously partners but will play against one another for the first time in their new partnerships in the second round tomorrow.
The sixteen remaining pairs all hail from Asia, with all four European pairs crashing out in the first round. Jenny Wallwork’s retirement in the days leading up to the All England surprised many and asks the question about how far her and partner Alex Langley would have gone in the event this year.
Danish Disaster In Mixed Doubles
Christinna Pedersen’s opening day ended in disaster as her and partner Joachim Fischer Neilsen were the only seeds not the progress into the last 16, beaten by the Indonesian pair of Kido and Bernadeth. Xu and Ma defeated Adcock and White to set-up an all-Chinese second round match against Qiu and Bao. Zhang and Zhao made light work of another Danish pair, Pieler Kolding and Rytter Juhl to reach the last 16.
Day 1 Results:
Destination two for the Super Series takes the players to Kuala Lumpur and to world number 1 Lee Chong Wei’s homeland as he looks to successfully defend his title from 2012. A distinct lack of Chinese seeds throughout the draw has opened the opportunity for some of the lesser-known players to reach the latter stages this week.
Lee Chong Wei opened his campaign in spectacular style, demolishing Viktor Axelsen 21-8, 21-10 to set a marker for the rest of draw that he is in excellent form this week after his victory in Seoul on Sunday. Second seeded Kenichi Tago similarly had little problems in progressing to the second round but losses for Wang Zhengming and Tien Minh Nguyen in the first round has opened the draw out further with the 3rd seeded Nguyen losing in three games to Taufik Hidayat who could be a potential semi finalist against Lee Chong Wei.
Ratchanok and Schenk’s withdrawal ensured an even weaker draw in the women’s singles without any of the top Chinese players present this week. Top seed Saina Nehwal will not complain as she progressed into the second safely after a comfortable two-game victory. Tine Baun needed three games to defeat P.V. Sindhu in her second to last Super Series and will take on Sun Yu of China in the second round. The match of the second round will be the all-Korean clash between Sung Ji Hyun and Bae Yeon Ju after both recorded victories in their opening round matches. The lower ranking Bae holds a 2-1 advantage but Sung took their most recent matchup in the Korea Open two years ago.
Top seeded Koo and Tan set up an all-Malaysia second round match against Goh and Lim with a potential Malaysian opponent waiting in the next round in Hoon and Tan, seeded 5th this week. Lee and Ko are a potential semi final opponent, with the 6th seeded Korean’s defeating Fuchs and Roth of Germany in two games to reach the last 16. The only two Chinese pairs in the draw will meet in the second round with Qiu and Zhang taking on Chai and Liu in their first meeting.
The only top seeded Europeans, Pedersen and Rytter Juhl progressed in three games to set up a rare all-European match in the second round against Goliszewski and Michels of Germany. The second seeded Matsutomo and Takahashi dropped just 14 points on route to a second round match against England’s Olver and Robertshaw who benefitted from a retirement in their opening round match. Giving blood in the cause of reaching the second round is not common within badminton, but Jillie Cooper managed to do just that playing with Kirsty Gilmour on route to a two game victory over Ho and Yap of Malaysia. They take on the Korean pairing of Ko and Yoo in their second round match, who defeated the 7th seeded Jauhari and Polii of Indonesia. Two Chinese pairs remain massive threats for the title with Ma and Tang winning in three games and Bao and Tian needing three games also to reach the second round.
Chan and Goh survived a massive scare in their opening round match, needing to save three match points to remain in the competition against the Thai pairing of Prapakamol and Aroonkesorn. Their opponents in the second round are even more fortunate to be in the last 16, Pieler Kolding and Rytter Juhl saved seven match points over the course of two games to win 19-21, 24-22, 24-22 and ensure their place in the second round. The second seeded Danish pair of Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen take on a new Chinese pairing feature one half of the Olympic gold pairing of Zhao Yunlei and partner Qiu Zihan, who needed three games to progress past qualifers Lee and Chau of Hong Kong.
Day 1 Results:
The Chinese tomfoolery overshadowed day 1, but a full day of excellent play delighted the Seoul crowd on the second day with plenty to cheer about for the Koreans. The European contingent was dramatically cut going into the later stages, with surprise losses for some of the biggest names in European badminton.
Three pretenders to Gade’s throne were all dispatched on the second day, with Zwiebler losing to Lee Chong Wei in two games whilst Viktor Axelsen lost to Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki. Jan O Jorgensen’s defeat was the most surprising as he lost out to Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov in two games to set up a quarter final against Du Pengyu of China. The 4th seed is the only seed remaining in the bottom half of the draw and the last Chinese player in the event after Guo Huan’s loss to Chong Wei Feng.
It is a similar story in the women’s singles, with the usual Chinese domination of the event missing with just two players left in the last 8. Wang Shixian has failed to drop a game to date but faces her toughest task yet against Korea’s Bae Yeon Ju in the quarter finals. Li Han takes on Saina Nehwal, with the Indian taking over as the highest seed left in the draw with Wang Yihan’s and Li Xuerui’s retirement on day 1. Minatsu Mitani and Nichaon Jindapon ended the European run in the event with Mitani defeating Tine Baun in three tight games whilst Jindapon disposed of Juliane Schenk in two convincing games.
The Japanese threat in the bottom half of the men’s doubles ended abruptly on day 2 with both seeded pairs crashing out. Endo and Hayakawa, seeded 4 lost to Goh and Lim of Malaysia in two games to set up a quarter final against Lee and Ko of Korea whilst Liu and Qiu ended the end of Hashimoto and Hirata, beating the 8th seeds in two games. The top seeded Boe and Mogensen are safely through to the last 8 and take on Korea’s Kim and Kim in the last 8 clash.
The Chinese has dominated the women’s doubles in recent years and Korea in 2013 this is no different. All 8 seeds progressed into the latter stages, with four of the 8 coming from China. Wang and Yu take on Cheng and Zhao in undoubtedly will be one of the matches of the day, in the same side of the draw Bao and Tian takes on Korea’s big hope in Jung and Kim. Ma and Tang take on the 3rd seed Matsumoto and Takahashi in the bottom side of the draw.
Ma Jin is also safely into the last 8 of the mixed doubles with partner Xu Chen and take on the new English partnership of Adcock and White who defeated the European champions Mateusiak and Zieba in their second round clash. Zhang and Zhao needed three games to dispose of the Russian pairing of Durkin and Vislova and set up a quarter final against Kim and Jung of Korea. Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen take on the 2nd seeded Ahmad and Natsir in the pick of the matches at the quarter final stage, with the Indonesian pair dropping just 37 points on route to the last 8.
Day 2 Results:
A new year brings a new start for the worlds best in Seoul but a Chinese cloud overshadowed the opening day with withdrawals and shock exits. Li Xuerui, Chen Long and the Olympic champions Cai and Fu all withdrew in the opening game of their matches, thus avoiding a fine or disqualification for “not playing with their best efforts”. Li Xuerui came into the tournament with an injury already and an opening round retirement meant that the Olympic champion would avoid a fine.
Lee Chong Wei avoided an early scare to defeat Wang Zhengming and will take on Marc Zwiebler in the last 16 tomorrow. There was more European success with Jan O Jorgensen defeating the 5th seeded Kenichi Tago in two games and will be joined in the last 16 by Viktor Axelsen also. Vladimir Ivanov completes the European group in the last 16 and takes on Jorgensen for a place in the quarterfinals. Chen Jin’s defeat to Gao Huan in three games was one of the big surprises of the opening round and Du Pengyu’s victory ensures just two Chinese players into the last 16 of a Super Series Premier for the first time in recent memory.
Li Xuerui’s retirement in her opening round game gifted Porntip Buranaprasertsuk her route into the last 16 and opened up the entire event. Saina Nehwal will be the biggest beneficiary of Li Xuerui’s retirement as the Indian becomes the top seed in the top half of the women’s singles draw. Jiang Yanjiao and Li Han ensure her route into the latter stages is far from easy whilst Wang Shixian ensures a Chinese presence in the bottom half of the draw also. European interests will fall onto Tine Baun and Juliane Schenk as has become custom in the Super Series, with the 4th and 8th seeds progressing without much resistance. The biggest surprise was Wang Yihan’s retirement leading 19-8 in the second game, after the second seed lost the opening game.
Lee and Ko will be the crowd favourite in the men’s doubles and their opening round victory over Blair and Tan ensures another day of capacity crowds in Seoul. Boe and Mogensen’s victory sets up an all-European second round match against Kindervater and Schoettler. Koo and Tan, seeded 2nd will take on another Malaysian pair in their second round in Ong and Gan but have a pair of Japanese threats waiting in the later rounds. Endo and Hayakawa as well as Hirata and Hashimoto recorded opening round victories in the same half of the draw and with Lee and Ko also in this side of the draw, this could be the most competitive event of the week.
Wang and Yu began 2013 with a routine victory over Korea’s Lee and Ko with Zhao Yunlei and new partner Cheng Shu being a potential quarter final opponent. Tian Qing and her new partner Bao Yixin also progressed in the top half of the women’s doubles with a straightforward two game victory. Only Ma and Tang will represent China in the bottom half and the top seed in this half of the draw, Pedersen and Rytter Juhl survived a three-game match against Bernadeth and Pradipta of Indonesia to eventually book their place in the last 16.
A full compliment of seeds made it through to the last 16 in the mixed doubles, headlined by Xu and Ma of China who defeated Lee and Kim of Korea to set up a second round match against Fuchs and Michels of Germany. There is an all-European match between European champions Mateusiak and Zieba who take on the new English partnership of Adcock and White. Christinna Pedersen again needed three games to progress with her partner Joachim Fischer Neilsen to set up a second round match against Shin and Eom of Korea. Zhang and Zhao abruptedly ended the run of the new Danish partnership of Pieler Kolding and Rytter Juhl in the opening round to set up a second round match against the Russian pair of Durkin and Vislova.
Day 1 Results:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The London Olympics are just days away, the realisation that four years have passed since Lin Dan’s masterclass in Beijing and that five champions will be crowned – before it all ends for another four years come August 5.
All the favourites are present this year, Lee Chong Wei has recovered from his ankle injury but to what extent remains unclear. His first match will be against Finland’s Ville Lang, a EBU tour veteran whose physical approach to the game will be a intriguing test for the Malaysian and his ankle. Lin Dan takes on Scott Evans, with the Irishman making it into the Olympics from second reserve to be the first hurdle in Lin Dan’s defence of the title. A last 16 clash with Taufik Hidayat potentially awaits, as the 2004 and 2008 Olympic champions face one another in 2012.
Peter Gade starts his campaign against Portugal’s Pedro Martins, but matches with Shon Wan Ho and Chen Long await on his path to the semi final stage and any chance of a medal. British hopes lie in the hands of Rajiv Ouseph, who takes on the European silver medalist Henri Hurskainen and world championship quarter finalist Kevin Cordon – with the group winner taking on Sho Sasaki unless one of the greatest upsets in the history of the Olympics and Virgil Soeroredjo sensationally defeats the 6th seeded Sasaki.
Michelle Li will be the top seeded Wang Yihan’s opening round match, with the Canadian meeting the top seed in both her events at the Olympics. Wang Xin takes on the USA’s Rena Wang whilst Li Xuerui has to take on both Carolina Marin and Claudia Rivero to ensure her place in the last 16. Saina Nehwal’s quarter of the draw is laden with Europeans, with no less than 14 of the 16 players coming from European – headlined by the 5th seeded Tine Baun, Saina Nehwal’s likely quarter final opponent. Susan Egelstaff couldn’t have hand picked a better group, with Britain’s sole entry taking on the 12th seeded Sayaka Sato and Slovenia’s Maja Tvrdy, both of which she has a superior head to head against.
Perhaps the toughest groups of the Olympics is in the men’s doubles, with Lee and Chung of Korea taking on the 2005 world championships Bach and Gunawan, as well as the Japanese pair of Sato and Kawamae then finally Koo and Tan of Malaysia. Another intriguing group features the 4th seeded Ko and Yoo, who take on Issara and Jongjit of Thailand, a pair they have never beaten, as well as Poland’s Cwalina and Logosz before the hardest of their group matches against Ahsan and Septano.
The women’s doubles groups have varying degrees of difficulty, with Ha and Kim as well as Jauhari and Polii receiving a fortunate group featuring the African and Oceania entries for the Olympics. Whilst Group D has three pairs inside of the top 10, with Tian and Zhao, Maeda and Suetsuna as well as Rytter Juhl and Pedersen all battling for one spot. Not to mention the Singapore pair of Tse and Poon who have excellent records against all the pairs except the Chinese 2nd seeds in their group.
As if the script wasn’t written for this, Zhang and Zhao will take on Adcock and Bankier inside Wembley Arena once more. Both were put into Group A with Fuchs and Michels of Germany and Nikolaenko and Sorokina of Russia with the Brits being favoured to claim at least one of the qualification spots on offer. Group C is without a doubt the “group of death” at this year’s Olympics. With three of the top 9 pairs in the world in the same group, with the 4th pair being ranked 13th. Ahsan and Natsir, Laybourn and Rytter Juhl as well as Lee and Ha will have to fight for two places, with the Indian pair of V and Gutta undoubtably going to have some say in the final standings of this group also.
China’s hope to retain all 5 golds won in Beijing resulted in a full compliment of players qualifying for the 2012 Olympics, but the women’s singles is the strongest showing from the Chinese. The world number 1, 2 and 3 all qualified for the Olympics as well as having three more players inside the top 16 to show their strength in numbers within this event.
Wang Yihan goes into the Olympics as the world number 1 after resurrecting a career that saw the Chinese squad demand that she proof herself after the 2010 Uber Cup defeat to Korea. She won the Malaysia Open earlier in this year before a series of surprise losses to her Chinese team-mates again asked the question if she was the best player within the Chinese squad.
Wang Xin and Wang Shixian are China’s more than adaquate back-up plan should Wang Yihan fail to reach the gold medal match. The world number 2 and 3 at the end of qualification have also had a poor year given the high Chinese standards, with Wang Shixian claiming the only title between the two players.
Li Xuerui put in a late surge to the world number 4 spot and was also the form player within the Chinese squad, winning the Asian Championships and the All England title in her run to the world number 4 spot. Has she been selected, she would have been the favourite for the gold medal in London.
What Are Wang Yihan’s Chances Of Gold?
Her recent run of defeats have mostly came against Li Xuerui, with all three of her defeats in 2012 coming against matches with Li Xuerui. Her head to head against her Chinese rivals picked for the Olympics is more pleasing statistic with a 8-2 advantage over Wang Xin and 5-2 advantage against Wang Shixian. Her record against Schenk and Nehwal is even more one-sided (6-1 against Schenk, 5-0 over Nehwal) and you have to go back to October last year for Wang Yihan’s last defeat from a non-Chinese player, losing in two games to Tai Tzu Ying.
What Are Wang Xin’s Likely Expectations?
The Chinese team are very willing to give walkovers or “rigged” matches towards one of their players to ensure progression into the next round and in all likelyhood, the gold medal is Wang Yihan’s to lose. Wang Xin’s is probably looking at a silver medal at best. Her record against the best players in the world is superb, with a winning record over most of her rivals including Wang Shixian who is likely going to be her semi final opponent.
Can Wang Shixian Justify Her Selection With A Medal?
Wang Shixian has dropped to 4 in the rankings, with rumours of Li Xuerui being selected instead of her circlating at the Uber Cup finals. Her sole victory in the event seemed to be enough to get her the nod ahead of Li Xuerui. A few stats stand out that question whether Wang Shixian can claim a medal, the first being her record against Saina Nehwal which stands at 3-1 in favour of the Indian. The other head to head with will cause concern is against Tine Baun, that stands at 2-2 with the Dane taking their most recent encounter. Her hopes of a medal are interconnected with Nehwal, with the Indian hoping to play Wang Shixian in the last 8 whilst the Chinese player would look to avoid Nehwal to reach the semi finals.
The hope of India lies in just one player, as 1.2 billion people will support Saina Nehwal in her quest for a gold medal in London. She has thrived in the pressure situations, winning a Commonwealth gold medal on hope soil two years ago and a junior world championship in 2008 as well as reaching the final in 2006 at just 16.
Her previous venture at the Olympics saw her reach the quarter finals, as a relative unknown in the badminton world. At that time she was Junior World Champion and reached the last 8 before a loss to eventual bronze medalist Maria Kristin Yulianti. At 22, she will arrive in London as the Commonwealth champion and already an experience at the Olympics from Beijing four years previously.
She will enter the 2012 Olympics as the form player in the world, winning the Super Series Premier event in Indonesia and Thailand Open title in her final two events before the Olympics.
Can She Defeat The Chinese?
Her record against Wang Yihan and Wang Xin (ranked 1 and 2 in the world) is undoubtably poor. She has never defeated Wang Yihan in five occasions, despite a match point in Indonesia last year. Her record against Wang Xin is a deceptive 4-2 in favour of the Chinese player, but both of Nehwal’s victories have came in their three most recent meetings. Her record against the third Chinese player selected for London, Wang Shixian is 3-1 in favour of the Indian, with Wang Shixian’s sole victory coming almost two years ago in the 2010 World’s in Paris. Due to her seeding in London of 4, she will not meet a Chinese player until the semi final stages in all likelihood.
Can She Defeat The Europeans?
A likely quarter final against Juliane Schenk or Tine Baun will await Saina Nehwal, for which the Indian has a relatively good record against both. She has a 5-3 head to head against Schenk, with the German taking their last encounter in Japan last year in two games. Schenk is also in excellent form, taking the Singapore Open title last month. Tine Baun has won three of their six encounters, with Nehwal taking the two most recent encounters in tight matches. A quarter final against Baun would be preferable to Schenk.
Can She Win Gold?
A favourable draw would be needed, avoiding Schenk in the quarter finals would be a boost with the Indian having a good record against other potential quarter final opponents (Inthanon Ratchanok, Cheng Shao Chieh and Sung Ji Hyun) and a semi final draw against Wang Xin or Wang Shixian would be desirable. The biggest question is if she can beat Wang Yihan, which is entirely possible with the world number 1′s erratic form this year. Losses to Li Xuerui on three separate occasions as well as Jiang Yanjiao will fuel the 22-year olds belief that she can win Olympic gold.
The Chinese contingent in Indonesia lost some of it’s stars as Saina Nehwal claimed her 3rd victory against Wang Shixian in a 96-minute classic.
Unlikely Bunch In Last 4
Parupalli, Hu, Santoso and Du. One of those four names would claim the men’s singles title and their first Premier Series title. Parupalli’s stunning week continued with a victory over Hans-Kristian Vittinghus to set up a semi final against Simon Santoso of China. Du Pengyu ended the run of Sony Dwi Kuncoro to book his place in the last four against Hu Yun of Hong Kong, who defeated Tien Minh Nguyen to reach the semi final stage.
Both Wang Xin and Wang Shixian crashed out of the women’s singles, with the 2nd seed losing out to Sung Ju Hyun in two close games. Wang Shixian lost her third of her four meetings with Saina Nehwal, with the 3rd seed having to save three match points to win in the second game but Nehwal was too strong in the third and booked her place in the last 4. The other semi final is an all-Chinese affair between the top seeded Wang Yihan and Li Xuerui, seeded 4. Both defeated their European opponents in the semi final, with Wang Yihan needing just two games to defeat Tine Baun.
World’s Elite Into Last 4
Whilst the singles had an unlikely bunch at this stage of the week, the doubles was very much business as usual. Lee and Jung were still on track for their matchup with Boe and Mogensen in the final on Sunday with both pairs progressing into the last 4 without the loss of a game today. Boe and Mogensen take on the 8th seeded Koo and Tan of Malaysia in their semi final whilst Lee and Jung take on the last Indonesian hope in the draw, Kido and Setiawan.
Wang and Yu enjoyed a day off as they watched their team mates Bao and Zhong book their place in the semi final against the top seeded pair. Jauhari and Polii are the sole Indonesian pair left in the draw where they take on the second seeded Tian and Zhao.
Zhang and Zhao crashed out of the mixed doubles to Thailand’s Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam in a day of surprises in the mixed doubles, with the 4th seeded Fischer Neilsen also crashing out to Ko and Eom of Korea, who defeated their team-mates Laybourn and Rytter Juhl in the first round. The 2nd seeded Xu and Ma are safely into the last 4, where they will take on the 3rd seeded Indonesian pairing of Ahmad and Natsir for a place in Sunday’s final.