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.
Some of the seeded players faced their biggest tests of the week so far, as the world’s elite continues on their individual quests to reach Sunday’s final and the prize money on offer for winning this week. Over half of the 20 matches today went the full distance, with some of the world’s best crashing out before the weekend.
Lee Chong Wei was in the minority, he disposed of Wang Zhengming in just two games and further boosted his chances of winning this week in Seoul. He faces another Chinese player in his semi final, Du Pengyu defeated Japan’s Kenichi Tago in two games to set up a match against the world #1 tomorrow. The bottom half of the draw seen the two highest seeds crash out today, with Peter Gade losing out to on-form Simon Santoso in a two-game, 45 minute matchup. Santoso will take on the 6th seeded Lin Dan in tomorrow’s semi final as he defeated Santoso’s countryman Taufik Hidayat in a three-game match that took a mere 49 minutes to complete. The possibility of a Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan final looms large.
Top seed Wang Xin suffered a shock exit to Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun, after taking the opening game 21-11 the top seed lost the next two games to allow the unseeded Korean to progress. 2nd seed Wang Shixian had her own three-game matchup against the 5th seeded Tine Baun and needed 6 match points to defeat the Dane and progress into tomorrow’s semi final. 3rd seeded Wang Yihan defeated her team-mate and 6th seed Jiang Yanjiao in two games to set up a semi final against the unseeded Korean Sung Ji Hyun. The unseeded Thai player Porntip Buranaprasertsuk continued her improbable run with a win over Japan’s Sayaka Sato to book her place in the semi final against Wang Shixian.
Four seeds remain in the men’s doubles, with a double interest for the Korean fans as they have a partnership in each of tomorrow’s semi finals. 4th seeded Ko and Yoo defeated the 7th seeded Fang and Lee to set up a semi final against the top seeded Boe and Mogensen, who defeated fellow Danish pair Rasmussen and Conrad-Petersen in two games to reach the last 4. 2nd seeded Koo and Tan had to battle through a three-game match against Tazari and Ong to reach the semi final where they will play the 6th seeds and last years winners, Lee and Jung who defeated the Korean qualifiers Kim and Kim in two games to book their place in the last 4.
The Chinese monopoly on the semi final spots in the women’s doubles has been derailed by the top seeded Chien and Cheng as they defeated the 7th seeded Ma and Cheng in a three-game matchup with the top seeds taking the final game 23-21. They will take on the 6th seeded Wang and Yu in the last 4 after they defeated the Hong Kong qualifiers Tse and Poon to reach the semi finals. The second semi final is an all-Chinese match, with 8th seeded Tian and Zhao taking on 5th seeded Du and Pan, with the 5th seeds defeating the 2nd seeded Maeda and Suetsuna in three-game, 62 minute match.
Just like in the women’s singles, three Chinese are joined by a sole Korean. Zhang and Zhao held off Ahmad and Natsir in three games to book their place in the last 4, where they will play the unseeded Ma and Xu, with Ma Jin exacting revenge on her previous partner He Hanbin and partner Yu Yang in a two game victory for the unseeded pair over the 8th seeds. Ko and Ha of Korea are the highest seeds left in the draw at 4 and also ended the run of the 7th seeded Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen of Denmark in the quarter final, winning in three tight games. The Korean pair now take on the 6th seeded Tian and Jiaming of China, last weeks runners up in this event in Malaysia. The Chinese pair defeated the Chinese Taipei pair of Chen and Cheng in three games to continue their excellent form in 2011.
The massive Chinese presence saw some of the mainstream and formidable players humbled by the new generation of Chinese talent in Seoul in the second round. Whilst the day also seen several seeded players lose out to their unseeded opponents.
The top three seeds in the mens singles remain in the draw, with Lee Chong Wei bouncing back from his opening round match to defeat Park Sung Hwan in two games to set up a quarterfinal with Chinese qualifier Wang Zhengming, who defeated his team mate and current world champion Chen Jin in an impressive 21-11, 21-14 victory. Chen Long and Bao Chunlai also suffered losses in the second round, with 4th seeded Chen Long losing out to Kenichi Tago of Japan whilst 8th seeded Bao Chunlai was defeated by Du Pengyu in a 21-16, 21-13 win for the unseeded Chinese player.
The bottom half has two fantastic matchups, with Simon Santoso taking on the 3rd seeded Peter Gade, with both players in excellent form and have not dropped a game in reaching the last 8. The second match is one of the oldest rivalries of the current crop of players, with 6th seeded Lin Dan and 2nd seed Taufik Hidayat. Lin Dan has been throughly impressive in reaching the last 8, winning both of his matches comfortably whilst Taufik Hidayat narrowly won his second round match over Wong Wing Ki in three games to book his place in the last 8.
The probability of an all-Chinese final looms large in the womens singles, with several of the contenders crashing out on the second day. 4th seed Saina Nehwal suffering a surprise defeat to Sayaka Sato of Japan in their three-game match, 7th seeded Juliane Schenk also lost out to unseeeded Porntip Buranaprasertsuk in another three-game encounter and plays Sakaya Sato for a place in Saturday’s semi final. The other match in the bottom half of the draw seeds the two remaining seeds in this half play one another, 2nd seeded Wang Shixian plays 5th seeded Tine Baun with both players in excellent form on route to the last 8, neither player dropping a game on route to the quarter final.
The top half has three Chinese seeds and a sole Korean representative making up the four. Top seeded Wang Xin has dropped just 49 points on route to the last 8, where she takes on Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun who defeated the 8th seeded Bae Youn Joo in three games to book her place in the quarter finals. The final quarter final is an All-Chinese affair, with 3rd Wang Yihan takes on her second Chinese player this week, after defeating Lu Lan in the second round. Her opponent in the last 8 is the 6th seeded Jiang Yanjiao who has like Wang Yihan, failed to drop a game on route to tomorrow’s quarter final.
The men’s doubles has three different nations all taking on their countrymen for a place in the last 4. The first is an all-Danish matchup between the top seeded Boe and Mogensen who take on the pairing of Conrad-Petersen and Rasmussen, who defeated the 5th seeded Cai and Fu in a three game match today. There is an all-Korean match up between Kim and Kim, who defeated the 3rd seeded Kido and Setiawan. They take on the 6th seeds and last years winners Lee and Jung for a place in the last 4. The third and final match of this kind is an all-Malaysia encounter between Koo and Tan, seeded 2 and the unseeded pair of Ong and Tazari, who defeated the 8th seeded Chandra and Setiawan to reach the quarter finals.
The 4 Chinese seeds in the womens doubles loom large, with the potential of a Chinese monopoly on the semi final a distinct possibility. Top seeded Cheng and Chien take on the 7th seeded Cheng and Ma, with the Chinese pairing dropping just 49 points and spending just over an hour on court to this point. The unseeded pairing of Tse and Poon have the almighty task of taking on the on-form pairing of Wang and Yu, seeded 6th this week and in stunning form, winning three of their games to 3, 4 and 7 points and the fourth game to 12 points. The bottom half sees 8th seeded Tian and Zhao take on India’s Gutta and Ponnappa, who defeated the world #11 Fujii and Kakiiwa in the second round. The last of the quarter finals sees the 5th seeded Du and Pan take on Japan’s Suetsuna and Maeda, seeded 2nd and in excellent form in their opening two rounds.
The mixed doubles is without it’s two top seeds, losing the 2nd seeded Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam to unseeded Chen and Cheng of Chinese Taipei. They take on 6th seeded Tian and Jiaming of China in their quarter final match. The other match in the bottom half seeds the 4th seeded Ko and Ha taking on the 7th seeded Pedersen and Fischer Neilsen, with the Danes being significantly more rested than their opponents who have struggled through two 3-game matches to reach this point. The top half of the draw is laden with Chinese potential winners, with Ma Jin taking on her ex-partner He Hanbin in the quarter final, as the 8th seeded Yu and He take on the unseeded Ma and Xu. The final quarter final sees the 2010 All-England winners Zhao and Zheng take on the Indonesian pair of Natsir and Ahmad.
The opening day of the Super Series Premier offered the opportunity for several of the world top players to stumble early, however all of them passed their opening round tests. The Chinese as expected faired well on the first full day of competition, with several of their new partnerships getting off to excellent starts in the doubles events.
The last 16 of the men’s singles is one befitting of this new Premier series of events, with even the second round match of Rajiv Ouseph and Simon Santoso being one of intrigue. Santoso defeated the 7th seeded Boonsak Ponsana, whose nightmare start to 2011 continues whilst Rajiv Ouseph defeated Hu Yun, ranked one place higher at #12 in the world in his opening round matchup. Lee Chong Wei survived a scare against Jan O Jorgensen, eventually progressing in three games to set up his second round match with Park Sung Hwan. Peter Gade’s opening Super Series match of 2011 was a excellent two game win over Indonesia’s Dionysuis Hayom Rumbaka, leaving him as the last Dane remaining in the draw. China however have 6 of the last 16 players in the singles, with all four of their seeded players progressing into round 2. The top half of the draw has 5 Chinese players in it, with Bao Chunlai taking on qualifier Wang Zhengming is what is unlikely to be the last all-Chinese match this week. Lin Dan is the sole representative in the bottom half of the draw and takes on Germany’s Marc Zwiebler in the second round.
All 8 of the seeded women are safely into the second round of the singles, with Tine Baun impressively beating China’s Li Xuerui in two games to book her place in the last 16. The four Chinese seeds are also joined in the last 16 by the 2009 world champion Lu Lan, who takes on 3rd seeded Wang Yihan in tomorrow’s second round. The Korean’s will have split allegiances in the second of the women’s singles matches as 8th seeded Bae Yoo Joun takes on Sung Ji Hyun in an all-Korean affair. Saina Nehwal had to battle all the way in her opening round match winning a tight three game match 22-20 in the final game.
Top seeded Boe and Mogensen survived a minor scare in their opening round match against Gan and Tan, needing eight attempts to win the opening game after leading 20-13 but eventually coming through in two games and take on the Japanese pairing of Kawamae and Sato. Cai and Fu progressed safely into round 2 and have set up one of the best matches in tomorrow’s order of play against the on-form Danish pair of Rasmussen and Conrad-Petersen who avenged their loss in last week’s final in Malaysia to Chinese pair Chai and Guo. 4th seeded Korean pair Ko and Yoo are also safely into the second round and take on the partnership of Blair and Limpele in the last 16.
The prospect of an all-Chinese final in the women’s doubles is all the more likely with the loss of two non-Chinese seeds on the opening day, with 4th seeded Nedelcheva and Russkikh defeated by Indonesian’s Marissa and Melati. The 3rd seeds did no better, with Vislova and Sorokina defeated by last years runners-up in this event, Fujii and Kakiiwa of Japan. The four Chinese seeds all progressed easily into the second round with the loss of just one game between them, the 5th seeded Pan and Du were taken to three games by the Chinese Taipei pair of Hsien and Wang. The top two seeds also progressed without difficulty, with Chien and Cheng defeating the Danish pair of Rytter Juhl and Pedersen in two games and take on the Korean qualifiers of Eom and Kim in the second round.
The 3rd seeds in the mixed doubles, Mateusiak and Zieba suffered a crushing two game defeat to the new partnership of Xu and Ma as this new partnership hopes to continue in the long line of Chinese domination in this event. A potential quarter final match with old partner He Hanbin is on the cards for Ma Jin if both progress through tomorrow’s games, with Ma and Xu taking on semi finalists last week, Blair and White whilst He and Yu take on Korean qualifiers Kim and Yoo. 2010 All-England winners Zhang and Zhao made it a double disappointment for Anastasia Russkikh today, defeating her and partner Hendra Setiawan in two games and the 5th seeds set up a second round match with Rijal and Susanto of Indonesia.