The best eight players and pairs are in Liuzhou this week for the final event of the 2011 Superseries season, with plenty of Chinese interest on home soil.
Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei Win Openers
The favourites from the two groups in the men’s singles both won their opening matches, but both needed three games to ensure a winning start this week. Lin Dan defeated Chen Long in a 62-minute thriller to open up Group B whilst Lee Chong Wei needed three games to defeat Sho Sasaki and ensure a win on the opening round of matches. Peter Gade tops Group A after an impressive 21-13, 21-9 victory over Simon Santoso and there was more disappointed for the Indonesians as Taufik Hidayat was defeated by Japan’s Kenichi Tago in the other Group B match, with Tago taking the deciding game 21-7 to share the top spot in the group with Lin Dan.
Wang Yihan Beaten Sung Ji Hyun
The big surprise in the women’s singles came in the Group A opener as world number 1 Wang Yihan lost to Sung Ji Hyun of Korea in a 72-minute match, after the Chinese number 1 took the opening game 21-13 but capitulated and lost the next two games to make her chances of making the semi finals increasingly difficult. Tine Baun tops the group after an impressive one-sided victory over Juliane Schenk, winning 21-12, 21-11 in just 27 minutes. Xin Wang needed just 26 minutes to defeat Sayaka Sato of Japan to top Group B whilst Saina Nehwal defeated Bae Youn Joo to start her campaign on a positive note.
Cai and Fu Defeated
The main news from the men’s doubles group was Cai and Fu’s defeat to Chai and Guo in their Group A opener, Ko and Yoo also suffered an opening game defeat, making their matchup on Friday potentially for the second position in the group. Lee and Jung survived their own scare against Koo and Tan but eventually won in three games to keep finishing top of their group a possibility. Wang and Yu top Group A in the women’s doubles with a 21-9, 21-11 victory over Poon and Tse whilst Tian and Zhao top Group B after a three game victory over Pedersen and Rytter Juhl in 58 minutes. Zhao and Zhang defeated their Chinese team-mates Xu and Ma in their opening match of the mixed doubles in Group A, with the world number 1 pairing winning the match in three games, needing 45 minutes to ensure a top two place in the group. Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen top Group B with a two game victory over Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam of Thailand in a 21-15, 21-17 victory.
The best two players in the world met for the first time since the world championship final in August, and whilst that match was heralded as a classic, their most recent encounter in Hong Kong resulted in a one-sided victory for Lin Dan over Lee Chong Wei.
Lin Dan Too Strong
Much has been made of Lin Dan and of the Chinese squads withdrawals recently, but surprisingly the highly anticipated rematch between Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei took place. The match was a distinctly one-sided affair with Lin Dan winning in two games and put further doubt into the Malaysian that he can compete with the Chinese squad after a pair of losses to Chen Long in recent weeks also. However, Chen Long suffered his own disappointment in his semi final loss to Chen Jin to set up an all-Chinese final.
Baun Into Final
After a recent run of poor form in Denmark and France, few expected this sort of week from Tine Baun. Her three game victory over Wang Shixian was one of her best results of the year and sets up a final against the 3rd seeded Wang Xin, who also defeated her higher ranked opponent in Wang Yihan in just two games to set up tomorrow’s final.
Usual Suspects In Doubles
The finals of the three previous Super Series have rarely changed, with Cai and Fu set to take on Lee and Jung in the men’s doubles final for the third Super Series in a row. The same can be said of the women’s doubles as Wang and Yu look for their 7th victory over Tian and Zhao and in their third straight meeting in a Super Series final. The mixed doubles has the on form Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen taking on a Chinese pairing, this time it is the top seeded Zhang and Zhao in the final after defeating Xu and Ma at the semi final stages this week, the pair they beat in their previous two Super Series finals.
It was a mixed day for the Koreans, the Indians, the Danes and the Japanese but for the Chinese it was almost a perfect day in Hong Kong, with just two pairs losing on a day of success for the Chinese.
Gade Crashes Out
Chen Jin and Peter Gade met for the 12th time today, with Gade winning just 3 of their previous 11 matchups. Today did not add another win to that tally as the 2010 world champion defeated Gade in two games to book his place in the last 4 and inflict his 9th defeat upon the Dane. His opponent in the semi final will be Chen Long, with a guaranteed Chinese involvement in Sunday’s final.
Lee Chong Wei defeated Ajay Jayaram to book his place in the last 4, whilst Lin Dan defeated Shon Wan Ho in his quarter final to set up their dream semi final match. Question marks will loom over the match as to whether the world number 1 will take on the current world champion until the pair step onto court, with the Chinese squad looking to keep this matchup from taking place in an Olympic qualifying year.
Baun Breaks Up Chinese Monopoly
With the top three Chinese seeds all making into the last 4, only Tine Baun adds any sort of variety to what looks like a Chinese certainty in the women’s singles. Baun’s victory over Saina Nehwal was an unexpected one with the Dane’s form being up and down in the past month but it is a welcome surprise to the Danish squad after Gade’s exit from the men’s singles. Baun takes on the 2nd seeded Wang Shixian whilst the other semi final is an all-Chinese affair between Wang Yihan and Wang Xin, with the higher seeded Wang Yihan taking a 5-1 head to head lead into their 7th meeting.
Chinese Dominant In Doubles
Chinese can boast two pairs in the semi finals of each of the three doubles events. Cai and Fu as well the pairing of Zhang and Jiaming, predominantly known for their mixed doubles results are also through to the last 4 of the men’s doubles. The two Chinese pairs take on one another in the first of the semi finals whilst the other semi final is an all-Korean affair with Ko and Yoo taking on Lee and Jung for a place in Sunday’s final.
Wang and Yu continue their march to the final with another two game victory over the local pairing of Poon and Tse whilst their perennial opponents in the final also progressed into the last 4 as Tian and Zhao defeating Jung and Kim of Korea to reach the last 4. Zhao Yunlei is also into the last 4 of the mixed doubles with Zhang Nan as of both partners are set to play two semi finals matches tomorrow, Zhang and Zhao take on the Chinese Taipei pairing of Chen and Cheng in the first of tomorrow’s semi finals whilst Xu and Ma take on their nemesis of the past few weeks in Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen in the second of tomorrow’s mixed doubles semi finals.
The final match of the second day in Hong Kong gave us the first look at the present elite against the future elite as the world number 1 took on the 2010 world junior champion in the last of the second round games in the men’s singles.
Lee Chong Wei Into Last 8
For the opening portion of the match, there was little to separate the two players but Lee Chong Wei eventually progressed safely in two games against Viktor Axelsen, but there will be positives to be taken for the Dane ahead of next week’s China Open. Ajay Jayaram is the Malaysian’s quarter final opponent after the Indian’s victory over Hashim of Malaysia in three games. Lin Dan takes on Shon Wan Ho in his quarter final, with the Korean beating the 8th seeded Marc Zwiebler in his second round match.
Indian qualifier RMV Gurusaidutt has been the story of the bottom half of the draw, he impressed in qualifying and today provided the biggest victory over his career over the 7th seeded Du Pengyu of China. His reward is another Chinese player in the next round, the 2nd seeded Chen Long for a place in the semi finals. The fourth quarter final is a battle of the veterans of the game as Peter Gade takes on Chen Jin for the 11th time. Gade was forced to three games by Yamada in his second round match whilst Chen Jin disposed of Gade’s countryman Jan O Jorgensen in just two games.
Triple Threat From China
Three Chinese and three Japanese players started the last 16, only Ai Goto remains from the Japanese squad whilst all of the Chinese seeds are into the last 8. Ai Goto takes on the top seeded Wang Yihan tomorrow, with her record against the world number 1 far from stellar with just one game won in their four meetings to date. The only match not containing a Chinese player sees the 4th seeded Saina Nehwal take on Tine Baun as they meet for only the 4th time, with the Indian taking their most recent match at the Indonesia Premier event in June.
Bach and Gunawan match into quarterfinals
The 2005 world champions have managed once again to upset the worlds elite and reach the last 8 of a Super Series event. After their three game victory over Kawamae and Sato they have the unenviable task of taking on the world number 1 pairing of Cai and Fu, with the Chinese pair looking to continue their unbeaten run to 7 against the American pair. The two Korean threats of Lee and Jung as well as Ko and Yoo are on a collision course for the semi finals after both pairs won in two games to reach the last 8.
Win number 51 of the year was never in doubt for Wang And Yu, taking their streak of matches without the loss of a game to 8, dating back their semi final victory in Denmark last month. Tian and Zhao amassed their 41st win of the year and look set to meet their Chinese team-mates Wang and Yu in the final for the third straight Super Series event, who have been responsible for 6 of the 8 losses inflicted on Tian and Zhao.
Four of the remaining eight pairs in the mixed doubles are Chinese, with at least Chinese pair guaranteed in the last 4 from the all-Chinese quarter final of Zhang and Zhao against He and Yixin. The possibility of an all-Chinese semi final lies in the hands of Pan and Hong, who take on Chen and Cheng after both pairs progressed to the last 8 in two games. Ko and Eom of Korea take on the on form Danish pair of Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen whilst Valeria Sorokina’s excellent week sees her in both the women’s doubles and mixed doubles quarter finals after defeating seeds in both her second round matches. Sorokina partners Nikolaenko in her quarter final in the mixed doubles against Xu and Ma of China.
It was a day for the underdog in Odense this week, with three top seeds losing out on finals day to add some spice into the French Super Series starting this Tuesday.
Chinese claim singles titles
It was a repeat of the Japan Open final but few expected the same result, however Chen Long did exactly that. A stunning two game victory has stunned the world number 1 to a second defeat in 4 weeks over the 3rd seed. Another world number 1 suffered a surprise defeat as Wang Yihan lost to the 3rd seeded Wang Xin to heat up the race within the Chinese squad for the world number 1 spot.
Lee and Jung too strong for Cai and Fu
The battle between these two pairs has turned back in the Korean’s favour, after a victory in China last month they add a second victory in a row over the world champions Cai and Fu with a two game victory to take the overall head to head between the pairs to 9-8 in favour of the Korean pair. The women’s doubles final was won by the top seeded Wang and Yu whose blip in the semi finals was forgotten in a two game victory over their team mates Tian and Zhao who still remain the only pair to have inflicted a defeat on the Chinese world champions as their record for the year not including their China Open withdrawal goes to 44-1.
Danish Delight in Mixed
Joachim Fischer Neilsen and Christinna Pedersen did what Tine Baun and Peter Gade failed to do this week, deliver a title for their home fans. Their victory over Ma and Xu was the result of a fantastic week of play from the Danes, after defeating the world champions Zhang and Zhao yesterday in their semi final. Their two game victory makes them a real contender for next week’s French Open with the loss of just one game over the week’s play.
Wang Shixian suffered a second defeat to Juliane Schenk in the matter of months as the world #2 continues her erratic form of late, after a convincing victory last week against Schenk, the German defeated her Chinese opponent in two games today.
The top four seeds all safely progressed into the semi finals in the men’s singles, setting up two excellent matches. The all-Chinese semi final between Lin Dan and Chen Long has been a one sided one in their previous two matchup but both of those were over a year ago and won by Lin Dan. The other semi final sees Lee Chong Wei against Peter Gade play for the 15th time, with the Malaysian winning 13 of the 14 encounters previously. The world number 1 was taken to three games today against Kenichi Tago whilst Gade has failed to drop any matches to date. The Dane will look to any advantage to claim his second victory over Lee Chong Wei.
The up and down form of Wang Shixian took another dip today in her two game defeat to Juliane Schenk, edging their overall head to head ever closer with the Chinese player holding a mere 3-2 advantage now. Saina Newhal takes on Schenk in the semi final after a straight forward two game victory over Gu Juan. The other semi final is an all-Chinese clash with top seeded Wang Yihan taking on the 21-year old Liu Xin, touted to be one of the future stars of the Chinese game.
The men’s doubles has four of the top six seeds remaining, with Cai and Fu taking on Koo and Tan in the first semi final in their 12th encounter with the Chinese pair winning seven of the previous twelve. The other semi final is an all-Indonesian affair, with Ahsan and Septano taking on Kido and Setiawan, with the 6th seeded pair defeating the Korean pair of Lee and Ko in the quarter finals to reach this point in the tournament.
The women’s doubles semi finals are a stark contrast to previous events, with one Chinese pair as well as two unseeded pairs remaining at this stage. The 3rd seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa are the highest seeds left in the draw and take on Chinese’s sole pair in the semi finals in Yixin and Zhong, who defeated the 6th seeded Naito and Matsuo in three games to reach the semi finals. Chen and Chien are the second seeds left in the draw, with the 5th seeds taking on Poon and Tse of Hong Kong who defeated the Danish pair of Pedersen and Rytter Juhl to reach the other semi final.
The highly anticipated match between Zhang and Zhao against Xu and Ma was a disappointment, but the match was completed after two abrupt endings with the top seeds progressing in two games. They will take on Chen and Cheng of Chinese Taipei in the semi final after their victory over Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam in their quarter final match. An all-European semi final awaits for the first time in recent memory in the Super Series with Denmark’s Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen taking on the German pairing of Fuchs and Michels for a place in Sunday’s final.
The unlikely run of Kenichi Tago in last years All England pushed him into the spotlight for the first time, since then he has maintained his place in the top 25 in the world. He faces Lee Chong Wei for the 7th time tomorrow, with the last match taking place a year ago exactly in this event in 2010.
If the presence of the world number 1 Lee Chong Wei wasn’t enough to get him onto the TV Court, a match against Japan’s sole player left in the draw would surely be enough. Both players come into the match without losing a game in their opening two matches but the Malaysia will be the massive favourite with wins in the six previous matchups. Lin Dan’s understated start in the event has resulted in a pair of three game matches which he has progressed from, but faces Chen Jin in the quarter final with the lower seeded Chen Jin winning their previous match in China last week. Gade and Jorgensen ensure European interest in the last 8, with the 3rd seeded Gade taking on Simon Santoso and Jorgensen playing Chen Long in a Chinese-heavy bottom half of the draw.
Tai Tzu Pai pulled out of the biggest shock in the women’s singles with a three game victory over the 3rd seeded Wang Xin. Her reward is another Chinese opponent in the 6th seeded Liu Xin, with the winner of the match playing the match of the day in the women’s singles with top seeded Wang Yihan taking on Tine Baun in the other match in the top half of the draw. Wang Shixian against Juliane Schenk is another intriguing match, with Schenk’s victory over Wang Shixian putting the 2nd seed into a recent slump in form at the Sudirman in May.
The usual suspects are present in the men’s doubles, with Cai and Fu safely into the last 8, joined also by Koo and Tan, Ahsan and Septano, Kido and Setiwan who are also joined by Korea’s pairing of Lee and Ko, who take on the 6th seeded Kido and Setiawan in the quarter finals. Chandra and Gunawan are also a perennial contender, with the 7th seeds taking on Cai and Fu for a place in the semi finals.
The Chinese have usually three or more pairs in a women’s doubles quarter final draw, but this week it is down to just one unseeded pair in Yixin and Zhong. The Canadian Open winners take on the Japanese pair of Matsuo and Naito, who are seeded 6 this week and one of two remaining Japanese pairs in the draw. Another unseeded pair on a unlikely run is the Korean pair of Eom and Jung, who face their first seed of the week in the quarter final against Chen and Chien of Chinese Taipei. Tian and Zhao were Chinese’s big hope after Wang and Yu’s withdrawal but lost out to Danish pair of Rytter Juhl and Pedersen in two games to face the unlikely scenario of a non-Chinese winner in the women’s doubles.
Zhang and Zhao against Ma and Xu has been a matchup riddled with retirements, their previous two encounters both failed to reach the distance and with a third installment schedule for tomorrow, many are hoping for a replay of their Asian Championships matchup instead of their previous two anti-climatic results. Sato and Matsuo fly the flag for Japan as the sole pair left in the draw and take on Denmark’s Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen in the favourable side of the draw with the defeat of 2nd seeded Ahmad and Natsir to Chinese qualifiers Hong and Pan to open up the bottom half of the draw.
The chances of Chinese success were great going into finals day with eight of the ten places on finals day coming from the host nation, but a pair of retirements ensures there more controversy with the Chinese squad going into the upcoming Super Series events.
The men’s singles suffered the surprise defeat of Lin Dan to Chen Jin at the semi final stage, with the possibility of the 2009 world champion being allowed to progress to the final to boost his chances of reaching London 2012. His run went no further as the 3rd seeded Chen Long defeated him in two games to boost the 3rd seeds own chances of reaching the Olympics.
The women’s singles and doubles is where the retirements occured in the finals, with 2nd seeded Wang Shixian defeating the 4th seeded Jiang Yanjiao 8-5 in the second game before a retirement ended the match abruptly. It was a similar case to Chen Jin, with the 4th seed defeating the top seeded player unexpectedly before eventually losing in the final. Wang Shixian’s recent form has been poor, with two early exits before a 3rd round departure from the world championships whilst the ranking points from this event will ensure Jiang Yanjiao remains inside the top 5 in the world. There was a bigger surprise in the women’s doubles as unseeded Huan and Tang defeated the all-conquering top seeded pair of Wang and Yu. The pairing of Huan and Tang are a new pairing on the Chinese scene, recently put together after playing against one another in the junior world championships last year and could be considered a possibility of making enough ranking points to reach the Olympics after defeating the top two Japanese pairs on route to the final. The top seeds retired after losing the opening game 19-21.
Xu and Ma also had their own controversy in their semi final, with Zhang and Zhao retiring at 1-1 in the second game of their match. There was little deception in their impressive two game victory over Koo and Jang of Korea, but Korea would have the last laugh as 3rd seeded Lee and Jung defeated the top seeded Cai and Fu on their home ground in stunning fashion, winning 21-17, 21-10 to level the head to head at 8-8 between the best two pairs in the world.
With the obvious Chinese involvement in their home event, it has been Peter Gade who has ensured some European interest going into the weekend.
Gade’s 80 minute match against Du Pengyu got off to the worst stuff when the 5th seeded Chinese player took the opening game, but the experienced Dane battled back to ensure his place in the last 4 by winning the next two games to set up a semi final with Chen Long. The other semi final sees the last two world champions battle it out as Chen Jin takes on Lin Dan, with the top seed look to be back to his best form with a 21-15, 21-6 demolition of the 6th seeded Sho Sasaki.
The women’s singles, as expected will see the top four players in the world battle it out in a Chinese monopoly of the semi finals. Both Baun and Schenk led the European charge going into the quarter finals but both were easily beaten by their Chinese opponents in Wang Xin and Wang Shixian, who now face off against one another. Top seeded Wang Yihan ended Saina Nehwal’s run at the last 8 with a 21-8, 21-12 victory and takes on the 4th seeded Jiang Yanjiao for a place in Sunday’s final.
Only Cai and Fu remain in the men’s doubles for the Chinese, with Korea taking two spots and Boe and Mogensen of Denmark ensuring some European interest going into the weekend. 4th seeded Ko and Yoo go up against the top seeded Cai and Fu with the recent form between the two pairs very much going in the Chinese pairs favour. The other semi final sees Lee and Jung take on Boe and Mogensen for a place in the final on Sunday.
The women’s doubles as expected still sees the top seeded Wang and Yu as overwhelming favourites, their two game victory over Jung and Kim puts them into the last 4. There was a shock with the 8th seeded Cheng and Pan losing out to their unseeded team mates Huan and Tang in three games but the other unseeded pair of Yixin and Zhong has no such luck against the 4th seeded Tian and Zhao who won in two games.
European interest is down to just one in the mixed doubles, with the 3rd seeded Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen defeating Laybourn and Rytter Juhl in an all-Danish quarter final. British interest ended with the defeat of Adcock and Bankier as well as Blair and White with both losing to unseeded pairs in three games. Xu and Ma defeated Zhang and Zhao, but it was a reverse of the semi final with the top seeded Chinese pair having to retire due to injury.
After Jiaming and Tian’s surprise defeat yesterday, there were no Chinese slip-ups on day 2 with the world’s best safely progressing into the quarterfinals.
Lin Dan did survive a scare in his second round match against Muhammed Hafiz Hashim after the Malaysian took the opening game, only for Lin Dan to respond with two stunning games of badminton and a victory in three games. The top seed will take on Sho Sasaki of Japan in the last 8, whose most recent meeting was at the world championships that seen the Chinese top seed progress in two games. All four quarter finals have Chinese interest but the most intriguing match of the four sees Peter Gade take on Du Pengyu, with Gade winning their only match to date in Singapore in July.
China have five of the remaining eight players left in the women’s singles, with Wang Shixian progressing much more safely than her previous match with a two game victory over Fu Mingtian. The 2nd seed will take on one of the two Europeans left in the draw in Juliane Schenk who defeated world championship finalist Cheng Shao Chieh in three games. Saina Nehwal suffered a similar fate to Wang Shixian, needing the full distance and more to defeat Japan’s Ayane Kurihara. The Indian eventually winning 27-25 to set up a quarter final clash with top seed and world champion Wang Yihan.
All three Chinese world champions are safely into the last 8 in the doubles events, with Cai and Fu needing three games to eventually progress and face England’s Adcock and Ellis. Chris Adcock is also through to the quarter finals of the mixed doubles with partner Imogen Bankier whose remarkable form recently continues with a victory over the 4th seeded Chen and Cheng of Chinese Taipei. Five pairs remain in the women’s doubles, headlined by Wang and Yu but the unseeded pairing of Huan and Tang also stole some of the limelight with their victory over the second seeded Maeda and Suetsuna of Japan.
The pick of the all-Chinese encounters tomorrow comes in the mixed doubles, as a rematch of the world championship semi final sees Zhang and Zhao take on Xu and Ma for a place in the last 4. Ma Jin’s ankle injury in London robbed the fans of a superb match that was finely poised going into the second game, but the last two full matches between the pairs have result in six excellent games of badminton and a victory apiece going into tomorrow.