The first Super Series since the London Olympics is without most of the medalists from 6 weeks ago but nevertheless has provided a lot of entertainment with several of the seeded players already crashing out.
Li Xuerui Into Last 8
The Chinese have the majority of the singles players left in the draw, with top seeded Chen Long surviving an opening round scare against Viktor Axelsen before his routine 21-13, 21-3 victory over Misha Zilberman to book his place in the last 8. Du Pengyu, Wang Zhengming and qualifier Qiao Bin are also into the last 8, with Qiao Bin defeating Hans Kristian Vittinghus to reach the quarter finals. India are also well represented, with 3 men left in the draw also. Gurusaidutt, Varma and Jayaram are also all safely into the last 8.
Olympic champion Li Xuerui headlines an excellent women’s singles event, with a potential rematch with Wang Yihan waiting in the final. The top two seeds needed just two games each to book their place in the last 4. There has been disappointment also, with Wang Shixian and Liu Xin both losing in two games to unseeded opponents but there is a third Chinese woman in the last 8 with Jiang Yanjiao reaching the quarter finals with a two game victory over Eriko Hirose.
Poor Turnout In Doubles
The scheduling of this Super Series was meant to give players ample recovery time after the Olympics, but in the doubles there is simply a lack of pairs in the events. Just 13 pairs entered the women’s doubles, which has been reduced to 8 before any play this week and the 2nd seeded Huan and Tang have already pulled out to allow the 5th seeded Cheng and Luo a semi final spot.
The men’s doubles offers some sort of depth, but there are still the opportunities to reach the latter stages without playing a match. Anugritayawon and Prapakamol are one pair that have benefitted from this, as they have reached their quarter final match against Hong and Shen without playing a match today after the withdrawal of the 6th seeded Goh and Lim.
The top 3 seeds in the mixed doubles have all received byes into the quarter final stages, whilst another two Chinese pairs booked their places in the last 8 as well as two Chinese seeds. Liu/Yuo as well as Qiu/Tang have both defeated seeded pairs on route to the quarter final, with Liu and Yuo hoping to defeat the second Thai pairing of the week after their victory over the 5th seeds Anugritayawon and Voravickaikul, they now take on the 2nd seeded Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam.
The world’s elite descend on Birmingham for the last Premier event of the Olympic qualifying year and also the last visit for some of the world’s greatest players set to retire in London in less than 6 months time.
Gade’s Last Run
Gade confirmed on Sunday evening that this would be his last All England as a player. The 4th seed starts with a first round match against his opponent at the 2011 World Championships, England’s Rajiv Ouseph. Gade has won the previous 7 encounters against Ouseph, all in two games. Top seed Lee Chong Wei is also in Gade’s half of the draw, taking on the dangerous Wang Zhengming in his opening round match but the world number 1 has won all four of their matches in two games also.
Lin Dan enters the tournament as the form player with his fantastic run in Germany last week, he takes on India’s Ajay Jayaram in his opening round match for their first meeting. The bottom half of the draw is loaded with Chinese threats with Chen Jin and Chen Long all likely to make deep runs this week. Taufik Hidayat has dropped to 12th in the world rankings and has been displaced as Indonesia’s #1 player by Simon Santoso. His status as Indonesia’s number 2 should remain unless Tommy Sugiarto defeats Chen Jin in his opening round match, with Hidayat taking on Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon in the first round.
Chinese Strength On Show
China have only brought a mere 6 players for the women’s singles, with all of them ranked inside the top 10 in the world. Liu Xin is the only unseeded of the six and takes on Michelle Li of Canada before a likely second round match against top seeded Wang Yihan.
Should the Chinese team allow their players to play one another, this could be a fascinating week of play with six players attempting to qualify for potentially three spots in the Olympics. Wang Xin and Wang Shixian hold the other two qualifying places and both have tough openers. Wang Xin takes on the world number 12 Sung Ji Hyun of Korea whilst Wang Shixian takes on the world number 10 and world silver medalist
Cheng Shao Chieh.
Tine Baun and Juliane Schenk lead the European charge, with Baun taking on Fu Mingtian of Singapore in her opening round match whilst Juliane Schenk takes on the world number 13 Bae Youn Joo in her opening round match. The sub-plots begin on Tuesday when qualifying takes place with Susan Egelstaff and Elizabeth Cann fighting for the GB spot at the Olympics, both have been in poor runs of form but could play each other in the final qualifying round on Tuesday night in what could be a decider for the Olympic spot.
China The Nation To Beat
China hold the top seed in all three doubles events, with Cai and Fu on route to take on Lee and Jung for their 21st encounter. Last week’s winners Hong and Shen are in Lee and Jung’s half of the draw also as well as Boe and Mogensen of Denmark. Cai and Fu’s main threat in their half in the Korean pair of Ko and Yoo, their world championship opponents.
Wang and Yu have been off the radar for almost 2 months after their stunning loss to Ha and Kim in Korea, they still remain the top seeds in the women’s doubles and will face a qualifier in their opening round. Their main rivals Tian and Zhao start with Chin and Wong of Malaysia, the world number 14 pairing. Ha and Kim are the 3rd seeds this week and are in the bottom half of the draw and have a rematch of their opening round in Germany last week against Sari and Yao of Singapore who defeated them in three games.
The mixed doubles offers another Zhang and Zhao against Adcock and Bankier rematch in the first round, after meeting in the first round in Korea with the British pair coming up on top. Adcock and Bankier are also in a tight qualification fight against Robertson and Wallwork who take on the world number 11 Thai pairing of Anugritayawon and Voravichitchaikul in the opening round. Xu and Ma are the second seeds this week and start with under the circumstances an “easy” game against the world number 31 pairing of Kim and Jung of Korea. The Danish contingent could face off in the quarter final, but the 3rd seeded Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen take on the new Chinese partnership of Jiaming and Huan. Last week’s German Open winners Laybourn and Rytter Juhl await a qualifier in their opening round.
The 2012 Olympics signals the end of four legendary careers, with the hope of a last great battle between Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan for the Olympic gold on August 5, 2012. August of this year provided with perhaps the greatest advertisement for the game that there has ever been as Lee Chong Wei took on Lin Dan for the 2011 World Championship.
Malaysia expected as Lee Chong Wei had two match points to claim his first world title, only for Lin Dan to break a nations heart with his refusal to be beaten. A nation distraught as China claimed a clean sweep in London as Lin Dan ripped off his top in celebration after his historic victory. It was the defining image of 2011, that the Chinese were still the nation to beat and that Lin Dan will still the man to beat.
As much as the Chinese tactics are questionable on how they get so many players to qualify, there is little doubting they are the nation to beat going into next years Olympics. Malaysia and Lee Chong Wei’s last chance waits in London once more, in the arena that robbed him of a world title 12 months previously.
From the stunning mistake by Lin Dan at 19-19 in the third game, to his net play and smashes that saved the two match points before his precise pushes into Lee Chong Wei’s forehand that forced the errors that led to the match point and the eventual winning point, it was an absolute master class on the greatest stage by both players. They simply are the best two players in the world and the only two men capable of winning gold in London.
Fighting For Gold
Lee Chong Wei was the overall best player of 2011; winning almost every event he entered and claimed his first All England title against Kenichi Tago in March. The last three months have seen him lose to China’s Chen Long no less than three times which is the only real worry for the Malaysian going into 2012. He will undoubtedly play a full schedule going into the Olympics, with the chance of a second All England title looming large.
Lin Dan goes into 2012 in top form, winning his last three events including the Super Series Finals earlier in December. He won the opening Super Series Premier in Korea in January and followed it up with Asian Games gold, an event that Lee Chong Wei did not play. The top two in the world played each other 5 times in ranking events, with Lin Dan winning four of the five meetings with Lin Dan holding a 18-8 advantage in their 26 meetings to date.
Gade’s Last Chance
Peter Gade celebrated his 35th birthday this month but there was little to celebrate on the court for the Dane as he failed to claim a single title in 2011 as Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei proved too strong throughout the year in a recurring theme for Europe’s number 1. In his 12 meetings with the top two players, he won just three games and failed to win a single match.
His record against the top two is 32-4, with his last victory over Lin Dan over 18 months ago and almost three years since his last win over Lee Chong Wei. His chances of a stunning upset and a Danish gold in London look grim whilst in the Super Series events he will be a perennial contender and will reach the latter stages of most of the events he participates in, but his chances of gold in London are slim.
Taufik’s Fall From Grace
The decline of Taufik started in May of this year when his #2 ranking slipped to 3 and then came the double defeat to Marc Zwiebler in the US and Canada Open. The foundation of his ranking came from his Denmark and France Super Series victories in 2010. His defeat in the second round to Viktor Axelsen in Denmark followed by his opening round loss to Wang Zhengming in France ensured Hidayat’s decline out of the top 10 of the world rankings for the first time in recent memory.
He ended the year with a whimper, losing all three games in the Super Series Finals and taking just a single game against Kenichi Tago. He will start 2012 with a world ranking of 12, still inside the qualifcation zone for the Olympics but he is currently the #2 ranked player from Indonesia with Simon Santoso ranked 7 in the world and Tommy Sugiarto a threat to Hidayat’s qualification also, ranked 17th in the world.
The Chinese Threat
The 2009 world champion Chen Jin as well as the new star of Chinese badminton, Chen Long are just the tip of a massive Chinese threat going into any major tournament in 2012. With 5 Chinese players inside the top 16, there is a massive internal battle within the Chinese squad to claim one of a potential three spots in the Olympics, should China manage to get three players inside the top 4 in the world.
Chen Long is clearly the new star of Chinese badminton, the 22-year old begun this year well outside of the top 10 and his stunning loss to Kevin Cordon in the opening round of the world championships could have derailed his promising career. However, he returned to form later in the year with a trio of titles including a Super Series Premier title in China before his milestone victory over Lee Chong Wei in Japan the next week. This became a recurring theme, with another victory over Lee Chong Wei in Denmark and then finally in their most recent matchup in the Super Series Finals. He is the main threat to the top two in the world going into 2012.
Chen Jin claimed just a single title this year, in the Singapore Super Series after a Lin Dan walkover in the final and without Lee Chong Wei even in the draw. His two runner-up medals were defeats to Lin Dan and Chen Long to firmly establish himself as the third force of Chinese badminton now.
Du Pengyu and Wang Zhengming are the two wild cards of Chinese badminton. They have all but been eliminated from being able to qualify for the 2012 games but will be vital in ensuring a massive Chinese presence at the London Olympics. Ranked #10 and #14 in the world will put them in a position of being seeds in some events but potentially facing one of the seeds in the Premier events of 2011, like Wang Zhengming taking on Taufik Hidayat in the French Super Series in October. They will also play a role in ensuring Chinese success at these events, with the Chinese squad allowing walkovers to occur in all-Chinese matchups, meaning more rest for the higher ranked Chinese players in their big events.
The Breakout Stars of 2011
2011 seen the emergence of Sho Sasaki, Lee Hyun Il, Simon Santoso and Marc Zwiebler into the top 16 players in the world. 29-year old Sho Sasaki has been grinding away a career that seen him ranked as low as 40 in June of this year after a string of opening round losses to start 2011. He then reached the semi finals in the Indonesian Super Series Premier and followed that with a win in the US Open in July. An excellent run to the last 8 of the world championships boosted his ranking into the top 10 and finishes the year with his highest ever world ranking of 7. A lot is expected of Sasaki in 2012 with impressive victories over Lin Dan and Du Pengyu in 2011 but has to ensure no opening round upsets that marred his 2011 season.
Lee Hyun Il ended his career after the Beijing Olympics, only to be talked back into playing competitively just 20 months ago. Ranked 196th in May of 2010, he has returned to the world’s top 10 going into 2012, winning his last two events of 2011. A former world number 1 in 2004, his return to the top 10 is nothing short of stunning with victories over Chen Jin, Wang Zhengming , Du Pengyu and Simon Santoso confirming his top 10 status. He will benefit in 2012 with being seeded for most of the early Super Series events of the year to bolster his place in the top 10.
Simon Santoso was touted to overtake Taufik Hidayat as Indonesia’s number 1 in the summer after Hidayat’s poor run in the US and Canada Open. He entered the world championships ranked 19th but his run to the semi finals in China and Macau, that featured a victory over Peter Gade seen Santoso become the top ranked Indonesian player and ensured his place in the top 10 in December. His victory over Hidayat in the China Masters saw the passing of the guard to the 26-year old.
Marc Zwiebler has cemented his place as Europe’s number 2 behind Peter Gade, but his double victory over Taufik Hidayat has pushed him into the spotlight. Ranked as high as 11 earlier in the year, he has levelled out within the 15-17 ranking in the later half of the year following his Canada Open success. Big things are expected of Zwiebler in 2012 as he is set to take on the mantle of Europe’s #1 after the Olympics.
The New Breed
Denmark’s future lies with Viktor Axelsen, the 2010 junior world champion and current European junior champion carefully scheduled his 2011 calender, with a victory in Spain before his greatest moment of his career in the Denmark Open as he defeated Taufik Hidayat in his hometown to reach the last 8 of a Super Series for the first time. He took a game off Peter Gade in his quarterfinal before losing out in three games but that propelled him onto the world stage. He played the Hong Kong and China Masters in the latter half of 2011 and will likely take on a full schedule in 2012 as he looks to improve on his ranking of 36.
Wong Wing Ki’s victory over Lin Dan in Denmark was the 21-year old’s first breakthrough victory of his career and a series of promising results to end 2011 has him just outside the top 20 in the world going into 2012. He has been competitive against the world’s elite throughout the last year with only his standout victory against Lin Dan to show for it, he will hope to have several more impressive wins in 2012.
The European Hopefuls
Pablo Abian, Rajiv Ouseph have been the powerhouses of the EBU circuit, whilst Jan O Jorgensen has been reaching the latter stages of the Super Series towards the end of 2011 after a health scare during the week of the Denmark Open.
Pablo Abian started 2011 just inside the top 50 in the world before taking four titles in the first half of the year, including a victory over Viktor Axelsen in Sweden in January to claim his first title. Opening round defeats in the Denmark and France Open will have to be improved on in 2012 to break into the world’s elite.
Rajiv Ouseph will go to the London Olympics as GB’s only chance of a medal in this event but his success in 2011 has came in Europe, with victories in Ireland and Scotland, choosing to play the European events instead of the Super Series Premier event in China. He goes into 2012 in need of a notable run in a Super Series to boost his confidence ahead of the pressure of performing on home soil after a poor attempt this year in a 21-8, 21-18 defeat to Peter Gade in the opening round of the 2011 world championships.
Jan O Jorgensen is a former top 10 player whose health scare in Denmark forced him into a layoff of 4 weeks that seen him dip to 19 in the rankings. Three quarter final appearances in Super Series events in 2011 will be the very minimum he will need to ensure his place at the Olympics ahead of Viktor Axelsen, as the two battle it out to be Denmark’s number 1 after Gade’s retirement.
However, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus is also a contender in the debate. Ranked outside the top 30 at the start of 2011, the Dane took the Dutch Open title in April to push him into the top 25 and another victory in the Bitburger Open sees him inside the top 20 and finished the year with a close match with Chen Long of China. The performance in the China Open will be one that Vittinghus hopes to emulate throughout 2011 to ensure his name is in the discussion over Denmark’s top men’s singles player.
The Asian Contingent
The rarely spoken about Tien Minh Nguyen has been inside the top 10 in the world for almost two years without any major runs in the Super Series, the Vietnamese player earns his ranking points from the GP Gold series of events but did put have a good run at the world championships, eventually losing out to Peter Gade in three games at the quarter final stage. Defeats to Sho Sasaki and Jan O Jorgensen in the latter part of 2011 still raise question marks over Nguyen’s true ability and significance within the rankings.
Park Sung Hwan’s year was cut short with an injury after the world championships. After surgery on his knee in September there was further complications after it was revealed that the Korean had circulation problems in his shoulder but is expected to return to action in the opening months of 2012. He was ranked inside the top 10 before his lay off due to injury.
Boonsak Ponsana is another player in the Tien Minh Nguyen mould in that he was almost discounted as a threat in the opening half of 2011 when he was ranked 6th in the world, mostly due to ranking points gained through the GP Gold series. His quarter final defeat to Lee Chong Wei is the highlight of a poor year for the Thai player that has seen him crash out of the top 10 but surgery has sidelined Ponsana for most of the second half of 2011, with 2012 seeing the Thai player hopefully return to the court.
The End Of An Era
Regardless of the results in London, Lee Chong Wei and Peter Gade have confirmed their intentions to retire after the Olympics. Lin Dan and Taufik Hidayat likely to follow suit, especially should Lin Dan claim his second Olympic title. Hidayat’s dip in form will likely be a contributing factor especially with his place in London far from guaranteed.
2012 will provide us with the end of an era and the chance to crown a new world number 1 after the Olympics. Whether that is Lee Chong Wei winning gold for Malaysia, Lin Dan retaining his Olympic title or the dream finale to Peter Gade’s stunning career, the countdown has begun. There is no more putting off talking about the likely retirement of these four players, for it is now a matter of months, not years now.
The 2012 season starts in just a few weeks, with the Korean Open Super Series Premier being moved 3 weeks to the first week in January, with the Malaysian Open Super Series the next week to ensure an exciting start to the year. The doubleheader of the Indonesia Premier and Singapore Super Series will be the final event before the run-in to the Olympics in late July.
Then, another 6 week break before the China Masters and the first opportunity to survey the aftermath of the 2012 Olympics. The year ends with the China Open Premier and the Hong Kong Super Series in late November to conclude what is likely to be a historic year of badminton.
Finals day had it’s share of surprises on offer, with several Chinese players deciding to play to increase their chances of making the Olympic squad as well as past world champions all featuring on Sunday.
Mixed Day For Chinese
Hans-Kristian Vittinghus unlikely victory over Wang Zhengming is a clear message to anyone that forgot about him in this Olympic year, with Gade’s pending retirement and the arrival of Viktor Axelsen. The 21-18, 21-10 victory was enough for the Dane to claim the men’s singles title. Li Xuerui ensured at least one title for the Chinese this week, with a fantastic 21-8, 21-9 victory over Yao Jie after her impressive victory over Juliane Schenk in the semi final stage.
Doubles Shocks For Seeds
The Thai pairing of Issara and Jongjit have undoubtably been the story of the week, after their win over the 8th seeded Bosch and Ridder, they have systematically defeated every opponent in the shortest time possible. Their victory over the 2nd seeded Conrad-Petersen and Rasmussen was a real shock, but they defeated Adcock and Ellis in the semi final to ensure a third victory over seeded pairs this week before completing their stunning week with a two game victory over Liu and Qiu of China, their fourth victory over a seeded pair this week.
Fujii and Kakiiwa secured the women’s doubles title with a straight forward two game victory over Wengberg and Lennartsson and claiming the title without the loss of a game this week. Goh and Chan completed a day of surprises with a victory in the tightest of circumstances over the 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl. The Malaysians secured the victory in a 73-minute match that saw them save four match points before converting on their third opportunity.
Denmark and China will be pleased with the performance of their players, whilst several nations like England and Germany suffered a number of defeats to reduce their chances of a title going into the weekend.
Zwiebler and Schenk Through
Despite all of the poor results for the German squad today, they have two excellent chances of winning the singles titles on home turf. Marc Zwiebler defeated Andre Tedjono in a lengthy two game match and takes on Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus for a place in Sunday’s final. The other semi final sees Wang Zhengming of China take on Eric Pang of Holland, with the 3rd seeded Chinese player impressing in his two game victory over Rajiv Ouseph in his quarter final.
Juliane Schenk progressed to the last 4 with a victory over Petya Nedelcheva in two games and takes on the 4th seeded Li Xuerui, with the German player holding an excellent record against Chinese players this year. Yao Jie defeated Tine Baun in her quarter final match to compound the recent run of poor form for the Dane, the Dutch 7th seed takes on Sayaka Sato in her semi final match after she defeated Linda Zechiri in two games.
China and Denmark Impressive In Doubles
Boe and Mogensen’s walkover allowed them to rest ahead of their semi final against Liu and Qiu of China, seeded 6. The Chinese pair ended the run of Germany’s Kindervater and Schoettler and there was another shock in the bottom half of the draw as Rasmussen and Conrad-Petersen crashed out to the unseeded Thai pairing of Issara and Jongjit in two games. The unseeded Thai’s take on Adcock and Ellis, who were the player or pair to win for England today.
The top two seeds in the women’s doubles progressed safely into the last 4 with a pair of easy victories whilst in the mixed doubles, several seeds crashed out such as Robertson and Wallwork to the unseeded pair of Liu and Cheng. He and Yixin ensure a double involvement in the semi finals day with a tight three game victory to set up a semi final against Laybourn and Rytter Juhl, who defeated the 6th seeded and world silver medalist pairing of Adcock and Bankier in a tight two game victory.
The majority of the field this week has been made up of European players with the occasional top name Asian player playing a third straight week after a run of Super Series in Denmark and France. The day has been about the Asian contingent who are systematically ending the run of some of Europe’s top players.
Wang Zhengming and Marc Zwiebler are the two to beat
Both of the top two seeds who started the week needed three games to reach the last 8, with 2nd seeded Marc Zwiebler coming through against Henri Hurskainen, the 14th seeded Swede. Wang Zhengming also needed three games to defeat the 10th seeded Ville Lang to set up a quarter final against Rajiv Ouseph of England. Hans-Kristian Vittinghus is also into the last 8 and takes on the Malaysian Chan Kwong Beng in the quarter final stage after he defeated Germany’s Lukas Schmidt. Andre Kurniawan Tedjono is the 3rd Asian left in the draw and takes on Marc Zwieber in the quarter finals.
Seeds Reign Supreme
Seven seeds started in the women’s singles, and all seven remain in the draw. Only Bulgaria’s Linda Zechiri breaks up a clean sweep of seeds in the last 8 and takes on Sayaka Sato in the quarter finals after both registered three game victories. Juliane Schenk is the big local hope for a title this week and has been in excellent form on route to the last 8. She takes on the second Bulgarian left in the draw, the 6th seeded Petya Nedelcheva for a place in the semi finals. Li Xuerui and Eriko Hirose is the only match in the top half of the draw and both players are also playing well this week, without the loss of a game between them. Tine Baun takes on Yao Jie to complete the quarter final line up with both players again reaching this point without the loss of a game.
The all-Danish men’s doubles final that is expected took another step in that direction, with the top seeded Boe and Mogensen receiving a walkover in the quarter final over Cwalina and Logosz to reach the last 4. Conrad-Petersen and Rasmussen take on the Thai pairing of Issara and Jongjit. The women’s doubles lost two of it’s four seeds today, with Chin and Wong of Malaysia beating the 3rd seeded Germans Marinello and Michels. The 4th seeds, Van Dooremalen and Jonathans lost out to English pairing of Wallwork and White whilst the top two seeds progressed safely into the last 8.
One of the matches of the day tomorrow will be in the mixed doubles, with 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl taking on the 2011 world silver medalists Adcock and Bankier. Regardless of the result, they will take on an Asian pair in the last 4 with He and Yixin defeating Blair and White in their second round match and Jongjit and Amitapai defeating their Danish opponents to set up the other quarter final in the bottom half of the draw.
It was a day littered with retirements, shock results and the potential downfall to Taufik Hidayat’s stellar career. The day began with a Chinese victory in the mixed but there was little to celebrate for the Chinese camp tonight.
Many expected the 5th seeded Hidayat to struggle against the unseeded Wang Zhengming with the Indonesian’s play and overall desire being questioned with every tournament. He won the event in 2010 here, but a two-game defeat to Wang Zhengming almost certainly concludes Taufik’s reign in the top 10 of the world after losing his runner-up ranking points in Denmark last week and his first round exit this week in France.
The remaining 7 seeds progressed without much resistance, with all seven seeds needing just two games to advance. Lee Chong Wei takes on France’s own Brice Leverdez whilst the match of the second round sees Joachim Persson taking on Lin Dan for a place in the quarter finals.
Six Chinese players started in the women’s singles draw, just three remain in a draw that has been decimated by retirements and upsets. Wang Yihan benefitted from Susan Egelstaff’s retirement pre-event but Liu Xin and Jiang Yanjiao both had to retire early into their first round to cut the Chinese involvement in the event. Their involvement was cut further with the surprise defeat Wang Shixian to Sung Ji Hyun, as the second seed run of poor form continues.
Tine Baun suffered her second early exit in two weeks with a first round defeat to Tai Tzu Ying, cutting the European involvement down to just two players with victories for Juliane Schenk and Petya Nedelcheva, with the Bulgarian taking on the 3rd seeded Wang Xin who beat Linda Zechiri in the first round today.
European Interest Throughout In Doubles
Whilst there is a massive Asian contingent in the doubles, there is a few European pairs who have reached the second round impressively to ensure they are taken seriously this week. The top two seeds in the men’s doubles progressed without much hassle, as did the 3rd seeded Boe and Mogensen who have regained their form in the past two events, however there was a surprise loss for the 4th seeded Ko and Yoo against the Chinese pair of Hong and Chen in three games. There is a few European pairs left in the men’s doubles draw, with the Danish pair of Conrad-Petersen and Rasmussen as well as the English pairing of Adcock and Ellis reaching the last 16.
Wang and Yu won their 45th match of the year in their opening round victory over Chin and Wong whilst the 2nd seeded Tian and Zhao won their 37th match of 2011 in three games. The 3rd seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa defeated the Danish pair of Heisbol and Skelbaek to take on the English pairing of Olver and Agathangelou who progressed in a 93-minute classic against the Canadian pair of Reid and Grether to reach the second round.
Zhang and Zhao as well as Ma and Jin have started this week with victories, with varying degrees of difficulty. The top seeded Zhang and Zhao needed three games to progress against Lee and Chien whilst Ma and Jin defeated Hashimoto and Fujii in two games. The 2nd seeded pair take on the world silver medalist pair of Adcock and Bankier in the second round, who are also joined in the second round by Blair and White after their victory over the 7th seeded Anugritayawon and Voravichitchaikul and will take on the Korean pair of Yoo and Jang in their second round match.
The first post-World Championships Super Series in China was a perfect way for the host nation to bolster it’s place at the top of world badminton and to an extent they did, but one shock defeat leaves a bittersweet taste on a successful day for the host nation.
World Champion Lin Dan progressed safely into round 2 and was followed by Chen Jin, Zhou Wenlong, Chen Long, Du Pengyu and Wang Zhengming. Only Peter Gade and Kazushi Yamada were able to defeat Chinese opponents in the opening round as the European interest in the men’s singles shrunk to just two after the opening round. Hans-Kristian Vittinghus and Peter Gade are Europe’s sole hopes this week with early exits for Rajiv Ouseph, Jan O Jorgensen and Marc Zwiebler.
Wang Shixian needed the full distance to reach the second round against Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei, eventually coming through 30-29 in the final game in 71 minutes and saving eleven match points. There is a massive Chinese involvement in round 2 as expected, with Wang Yihan, Wang Xin, Jiang Yanjiao, Liu Xin and Yao Xue making up six of the sixteen remaining players. Tine Baun and Juliane Schenk will be Europe’s main hopes of an unlikely victory on Chinese soil.
The men’s doubles has but just 3 pairs from China, but the top seeded Cai and Fu will be the pair to watch. Hashimoto and Hirata defeated the 8th seeded Chandra and Gunawan to book their place in the last 16 but there were little surprises in the other matches in the opening round. The women’s doubles will be another event to watch for the all-conquering world champions Wang and Yu whilst Europe has it’s entire hope placed solely on Rytter Juhl and Pedersen’s shoulders for success.
The mixed doubles seen the biggest shock of the day as China’s 2nd seeds Jiaming and Ting to unseeded Indian pair Gutta and Valiyaveeti in three games. Their reward is a match against Lee and Ha of Korea, a pair that easily beat them in Switzerland earlier in the year. Last week’s winners Ko and Eom have the toughest task in round 2 as they take on the world champions and top seeded Zhang and Zhao for a place in the quarter final.
The 17th meeting between Peter Gade and Lin Dan went the way of the Chinese 2nd seed, for the 14th time in their long standing rivalry. Peter Gade will take positives from the match after taking the opening game 22-20.
Lin Dan’s response to losing the opening game to Peter Gade was everything you’d expect from the current Olympic champion as he levelled the match at 1-1 before completing his comeback in a 75-minute match, winning 20-22, 21-17, 21-15. His opponent in tomorrow’s final is the current world champion Chen Jin, who came into this week unseeded but has been in excellent form especially in his 21-17, 21-11 victory over his Chinese team mate Wang Zhengming.
Baun Stuns Wang
The week of shocks in the women’s singles continued as 6th seeded Tine Baun knocked out the top seeded Wang Shixian in convincing fashion to book her place in the final, winning 21-15, 21-16. The chance of an all-European final however, was not to be as Yao Jie lost out to the 3rd seeded Wang Xin in a one sided match that the Chinese woman won 21-13, 21-11.
Cai and Fu Progress
The last match of the day seen Cai and Fu even their head-to-head with Lee and Jung at 7-7 with their two game victory over the Korean pair, winning 21-16, 23-21.However another all-Chinese final was not on the cards as the unseeded Chandra and Gunawan stunned the 7th seeded Chai and Guo in the second semi final to progress to the final after their three-game, 72-minute victory that the Indonesian’s took 21-19, 24-26, 21-19.
Japanese Crash Out
The possibility of the top two Japanese seeds meeting in the final loomed large, but it was a nightmare scenario that took place for the duos. Fujii and Kakiiwa lost to the 6th seeded Ha and Kim in two games whilst later in the day Naito and Matsuo lost out to the 5th seeded Tian and Zhao in the second semi final in two games also to ensure a China – Korea final.
Zhao and Zhang Fall
The top seeded Zhao and Zhang were widely expected to win this week with the poor performances of the other seeds, but they lost out to the last remaining seed in the draw in Ahmad and Natsir in just two games, losing 21-23, 16-21. There was a guaranteed unseeded pair in the final from the second semi final, with Robertson and Wallwork taking on Chen and Cheng. It was the Chinese Taipei pairing that progressed into the final, defeating the English pair 21-12, 21-15.
Semi Final Results: