World Title Number 4 For Lin Dan

China claimed their second straight clean sweep of the gold medals but that has not been the only story of this year’s world championships with several players and partnership stealing the headlines throughout the week.

If the match between Cai/Fu and Lee/Jung in the 2009 world championships final was the greatest match of that event, the 2011 final between Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan has to be considered the greatest match in recent memory in the men’s singles. The 81-minute match had everything you’d want from a final and the drama of the last few points only confirmed the greatness of the match. Lee Chong Wei had two chances to be world champion, only for Lin Dan to save those match points and take the title 23-21.

The main disappointment of the week was Taufik Hidayat’s early exit to Zi Liang Derek Wong of Singapore in two games, asking the question if the Indonesian will continue playing until the 2012 Olympics. For Peter Gade, his last chance of a world championship ended at the semi final stage to Lin Dan but was just six points away from the final, leading 15-14 in the third game before the 2nd seeded Lin Dan scored seven unanswered points.

Wang Yihan claimed the women’s title in one-sided final over Cheng Shao Chieh of Chinese Taipei to claim her first world title ahead of three other high seeded Chinese players. The 2nd seeded Chinese player dropped just a single set on route to the final in her 2nd round match against Inthanon Ratchnok whilst her opponent reached the final with the loss of a game including victories over Wang Shixian and Juliane Schenk.

It was yet further disappoint for Wang Shixian, whose recent run of form since winning the All England in March has been poor. Two defeats to Cheng Shao Chieh, one defeat to Tine Baun and a surprise defeat to Lu Lan in the Asian Games was far from the best preparation for this week. Wang Yihan however, came in with the best preparation with a victory in the Indonesian Premier event and with her victory this week will put behind her the poor 2010 season.

Cai and Fu claimed their 4th world title after a shaky start in the opening two rounds before hitting their best form and defeating the top two Korean pairs in the semi final and final to win their 3rd straight world title. Ko and Yoo played exceptional all week but the Chinese pair were too strong in the final and questions will now be asked over the future of the partnerships in this discipline, with Ko and Lee teaming up in the events leading up to the world championships.

Boe and Mogensen’s defeat in the quarter final compounds their recent run of poor form, since failing to win a single match in the Sudirman Cup the pairing has almost been in free fall, but there were signs ever before that in their shock defeat to Bosch and Ridder in the Swiss Open. The new pairing of Conrad-Petersen and Rasmussen had a better run this week and could be a changing of the guard in Danish badminton.

Wang and Yu played against one another in the final of this event last year, but since teaming up have been almost unstoppable. Losing just one match since combining as a partnership and were the runaway favourites for the women’s doubles title and failed to disappoint. Their 22-20, 21-11 victory over Tian and Zhao, the only pairing to ever beat them was a warning to the rest of the women’s doubles field that they are the undoubted best partnership in the world, by a long way.

Both partnerships were rarely troubled on route to the final, with both failing to drop a game in reaching the final. The Japanese pairings of Maeda and Suetsuna as well as Fujii and Kakiiwa weren’t in the same league as the two Chinese pairs and that clearly showed in their quarter and semi final matches. The best two partnerships in the world met in the final and that seems to be the way it will be for the near future.

Zhang and Zhao might have claimed the gold in the mixed doubles, but the heroics of Adcock and Bankier will be the story of the championships. The Chinese pair were the undoubted favourites coming into this week, with victory in the Asian Games and the most recent Premier event in Indonesia. Their opponents in the final defeated four seeds just to reach the final and with every victory their confidence grew, as did the emotional and physical fatigue. Zhang and Zhao needed just 7 games to reach the final whilst Adcock and Bankier needed 11 and almost a hour more on court.

For Imogen Bankier, this is not new territory as one of her previous partnerships with Robert Blair propelled them into the top 20 of the world ranking but this partnership is clearly the future of British badminton with Robertson and Wallwork’s shock defeat in their opening match this week. Tian and Jiaming as well as Ahmad and Natsir will wonder how they were defeated by the British pair in such a convincing manner, with the Olympics being held in the same arena in just a years time with Adcock and Bankier looking to go one better than in 2011.

Finals Day Results

Lee Chong Wei Looks Confident For Title

The fairytale at the start of the week was Kevin Cordon’s unlikely run to last 8 but even his heroics haven’t matched the performances of Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier this week as they are one match away from being world champions.

Lee Chong Wei defeated the current world champion in convincing style in the morning session to book his place in the final by the score of 21-13, 21-9. His opponent in the final will be the 2nd seeded Lin Dan who had to come through Peter Gade in three games, after the Dane took the opening game but Lin Dan responded in the second and reeled off seven straight points at 14-15 down in the third game to book his place against Lee Chong Wei. Their 24th meeting will be for a world title, with the pair splitting their last 4 matches but the Malaysian won their last encounter in the All England Championships in March.

Wang Yihan won the all-Chinese semi final against Wang Xin to take a 5-0 lead in their head to head matches. The 2nd seed will take on the 7th seeded Cheng Shao Chieh, who defeated Juliane Schenk in convincing fashion to continue her excellent run after defeating the top seeded Wang Shixian in the quarter final stage. Wang Yihan holds a 3-0 record against her Chinese Taipei opponent, with their most recent matchup in the Asian Games being won by Wang Yihan in two games.

The Korean pair of Ko and Yoo reached the men’s doubles final with a two game victory over Ahsan and Septano, the 7th seeded pair from Indonesia. Their opponents in tomorrow’s final will be the top seeded Cai and Fu who are looking for their 3rd straight world title after defeating the 3rd seeded pair of Lee and Jung in two games and taking the advantage in their head to head to 8-7 to the Chinese pair. Cai and Fu will go in as undoubted favourites with a 4-0 advantage in their head to head.

The women’s doubles final is an All-Chinese affair, with the top seeded Wang and Yu defeating the 3rd seeded Maeda and Suetsuna in two games to book their place in the final against the 5th seeded Tian and Zhao, who defeated the unseeded Indian pair of Gutta and Ponnappa. Wang and Yu have won every single match they have played in 2011 except one, against the pairing of Tian and Zhao in Malaysia early in the year but since then Wang and Yu have defeated their opponents in the final twice.

The mixed doubles final sees the top seeded Zhao and Zhang take on the story of the championships in the pairing of Adcock and Bankier, who defeated their 4th seeded pair this week to be their place in tomorrow’s final. Adcock and Bankier’s stunning victory over the second seeded Ahmad and Natsir booked their place in the final whilst the Chinese pair had to play just one game against the 6th seeded Xu and Ma before an ankle injury to Ma Jin cut the match short. The Chinese pair have won both their previous matches but one of their victories was a retirement and the other meeting was in 2010 that the Chinese pair won 24-22 in the deciding game.

Semi-Finals Results

Adcock and Bankier Continue to Surprise

Several nations saw their chances of a medal in London disappear today, but for some unlikely partnerships their dreams continue into the semi final stage. The first top seed also fell today in the women’s singles but the other four top seeds are guaranteed a medal at this years world championships.

Lee Chong Wei ended the run of the Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon in ruthless fashion to set up a semi final against the current world champion Chen Jin, who defeated Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus to reach the last 4. The other semi final is a potential classic as Lin Dan avenged his defeat to Sho Sasaki in two games whilst Peter Gade took 82 minutes to defeat the 7th seeded Tien Minh Nguyen to reach the last 4, but the Dane looked clearly exhausted at several points throughout the match, and has spent almost 3 hours on court in the previous two days to reach the semi final.

Wang Shixian crashed out of the world championships in tame fashion to the 7th seeded Cheng Shao Chieh of Chinese Taipei to devoid the top half of the draw of any Chinese involvement. Tine Baun also crashed out to the on-form Juliane Schenk in very poor fashion, losing to the 9th seeded Schenk 21-9, 21-11 in just 30 minutes. The other semi final is an all-Chinese clash with Wang Xin taking on Wang Yihan, with the higher seed Wang Yihan winning their previous 4 encounters. Wang Xin’s victory came against the 6th seeded Saina Nehwal whilst Wang Yihan ended France’s involvement this year with her two game win over Pi Hongyan.

The anticipated semi final clash between Cai and Fu against Lee and Jung will take place tomorrow, with both pairs coming through their matches in two games to set up their 15th meeting for a place in the world championship final. The other semi final also has Korean interest with the 5th seeded Ko and Yoo defeating the Commonwealth champions Koo and Tan in two games in the opening match on the TV court this morning. Their opponents are the 7th seeded Ahsan and Septano who defeated the Danish 2nd seeds of Boe and Mogensen in three games, taking the deciding game 24-22 to progress.

Wang and Yu are safely into the semi final stage with another two game victory over Naito and Matsuo and will take on another Japanese pairing in the semi finals in the shape of Maeda and Suetsuna who defeated Indonesia’s Jauhari and Polii in two games to reach the last 4. The other semi final sees the 5th seeded Tian and Zhao taking on the unseeded pair of Gutta and Ponnappa, with the Indian’s defeating the 12th seeded Marissa and Melati of Indonesia in three games to guarantee India a world championship medal.

Adcock and Bankier’s incredible continues into the weekend after their two game victory over the 4th seeded Tian and Jiaming, with Adcock sprinting off court in celebration after Jiaming served into the net at match point down. They have their toughest test in the semi final in the 2nd seeded Indonesian pair of Ahmad and Natsir, who defeated the 5th seeded Danish pair of Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen in two games. The other semi final sees the top seeded Zhang and Zhao take on the 6th seeded Xu and Ma in an all-Chinese semi final. Zhang and Zhao defeated the 7th seeded Chen and Cheng of Chinese Taipei in two games whilst the 6th seeded Xu and Ma beat the unseeded Singapore pairing of Triyachart and Yao in two games also.

Quarter-Final Results

Cordon Elated With Victory Over Abian

The emerging stories from this week is the unlikely run of Kevin Cordon of Guatemala and Britain’s last hope at success with Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier in the mixed doubles.

The day began with Lee Chong Wei sending a message to the rest of the field with his impressive 21-10, 21-5 victory over the 9th seeded Park Sung Hwan. His opponent in the quarter finals has been making his own headlines with his unlikely run to the last 8, Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon defeated Pablo Abian of Spain in a tight three-game 71 minute match that the Guatemalan won to book his place in the quarter final against Lee Chong Wei. Lin Dan had little problem against Lee Hyun Il but will not face his Chinese team-mate in the last 8, instead he will play Sho Sasaki who defeated Lin Dan in the Indonesian Premier event just 6 weeks ago. Denmark joins China in have two players in the last 8, with Chen Jin taking on Hans-Kristian Vittinghus whilst the 3rd seeded Peter Gade had to spend 75 minutes on court to defeat Simon Santoso in three games to set up the last quarter final against Tien Minh Nguyen, who defeated Boonsak Ponsana in two games.

Wang Shixian progressed safely into the last 8 and will take on the 7th seeded Cheng Shao Chieh who ended the run of Spain’s Carolina Marin in the 3rd round in two tight games. The first Chinese casualty came today, with the 4th seeded Jiang Yanjiao losing to the on-form 9th seeded Juliane Schenk and the German will play Tine Baun in the last 8 to ensure a European medal in the women’s singles. Wang Yihan needed three games to progress over Inthanon Ratchanok and takes on France’s Pi Hongyan who defeated the 16th seeded Sayaka Sato to reach the last 8. Saina Nehwal progressed in just 19 minutes after the retirement of Yip Pui Yin and will take on Wang Xin in the quarter final after the Chinese 3rd defeated Petya Nedelcheva in three games, after the Bulgaria took the opening game 21-16.

Cai and Fu have needed three games in both matches to start to reach the last 8 and a match against the 16th seeded Danish pair of Conrad-Petersen and Rasmussen, who defeated the 8th seeded Chandra and Gunawan in three games. Lee and Jung have been ruthless this week, defeating the 14th seeded Endo and Hayakawa 21-14, 21-5 and will take on the Chinese pair of Hong and Shen who defeated the 10th seeded Fang and Lee of Chinese Taipei. One of the matches of tomorrow will be the quarter final match of Ko and Yoo against Koo and Tan, with both the 4th and 5th seeds winning their third round matches in two games. Boe and Mogensen are the second Danish pair in the last 6 and will take on the 7th seeded Ahsan and Septano with both pairings winning in two games.

Wang and Yu are also safely into the last 8 with another two game victory and will take on the 7th seeded Matsuo and Naito of Japan. The second of three Japanese pairs in the last 8 are the 3rd seeded Maeda and Suetsuna who take on Indonesia’s Polii and Jauhari, who defeated the 16th seeded Yao and Sari of Singapore in two games. The second Chinese pair of Zhao and Tian take on Japan’s third pair in the draw in Fujii and Kakiiwa whilst the second Indonesian pair of Marissa and Melati take on the Indian pair of Gutta and Ponnappa who defeated their second seeded pair this week in three tight games.

China’s fourth top seed is also safely into the last 8 with a two game victory over Fuchs and Michels of Germany, seeded 13 this week. They will face the 7th seeded Chen and Cheng of Chinese Taipei who defeated the 2009 champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl of Denmark in three tight games to reach the quarter finals. The unseeded Singapore pairing of Triyachart and Yao take on the 6th seeded Xu and Ma of China in the second quarter final in the top half of draw whilst the 4th seeded Jiaming and Tian take on the British pairing of Adcock and Bankier, who defeated their second seed of the week in the 15th seeded Shiota and Ikeda of Japan. The second seeded Ahmad and Natsir take on the 5th seeded Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen in the last of the quarter final matches, with both players coming through in two games to reach the last 8.

Day 4 results

Hidayat Falls Early In London

Another big name fell in the men’s singles as the 4th seeded Taufik Hidayat was defeated in the second round by Singapore’s Zi Liang Derek Wong, but Hidayat was not the only seed to crash out on the 3rd day in London.

Hidayat was joined by 14th seeded Marc Zwiebler, who defeated Hidayat twice in the build up events to the world championships but lost in three games to Spain’s Pablo Abian in 74 minutes. Abian takes on the fairytale story of the event to date, Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon who is through to the last 16 after defeating Sweden’s Henri Hurskainen in two games. The top three seeds remaining in the draw had little trouble reaching the last 16, with Lee Chong Wei defeating Ville Lang in two games to set up a match against Park Sung Hwan in the third round. Lin Dan defeated Ireland’s Scott Evans in two tight games to set up his third round match against Lee Hyun Il of Korea whilst the 3rd seeded Peter Gade was very impressive in his 21-9, 21-5 victory over Pukhov of Russia and takes on the 13th seeded Simon Santoso in the 3rd round tomorrow.

The second round of matches in the women’s singles was completed today, with the first big name casualty coming in the 8th seeded Bae Youn Joo losing out to Pi Hongyan of France whilst the top seeded Chinese players on show today progressed safely into the last 16. Wang Yihan defeated Gu of Singapore in two games, as did 3rd Wang Xin in her victory over Anastasia Prokopenko of Russia. Saina Nehwal’s campaign also started with a win over Chloe Magee of Ireland and will take on Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong in the last 16.

The second round in the men’s doubles was also completed today, with top seeded Boe and Mogensen winning in impressive fashion to reach the last 16 and a match against Hashimoto and Hirata of Japan, seeded 9th.The 4th seeded Koo and Tan were also given a real test by the Chinese pair of Liu and Qiu, taking them to three games before the Malaysian’s eventually progressed to take on Chen and Lin of Chinese Taipei, who defeated the 13th seeded Kindervater and Schoettler to reach the last 16. Ko and Yoo were also taken to three games by the English pairing of Adcock and Ellis, before the 5th seeds claimed victory and a last 16 place to take on Cho and Kwon, in an all-Korean match.

The biggest seed to fall to date came in the women’s doubles as the 2nd seeded Chien and Cheng crashed out to the Indian pair of Gutta and Ponnappa in two games, who will take on the 11th seeded Poon and Tse who ended the English pairing of Langley and Smith’s run at the championships this year. Fujii and Kakiiwa almost crashed out today also, needing 88 minutes and saving a match point in their match over Chin and Wong before progressing 22-20 in the deciding game and setting up a 3rd round match against Vislova and Sorokina of Russia, seeded 10.

Britain’s last hope of success lies with Bankier and Adcock in the mixed doubles, after their victory over the 8th seeded Anugritayawon and Voravichaikul of Thailand in two games. Their reward is a 3rd round match against Shiota and Ikeda of Japan, seeded 15th who defeated the Austrian pairing of Zirnwald and Baldurf in two games. There was little hassle for the top seedings in the bottom half of the draw, as Ahmad and Natsir progressed into the last 16 in two games, as did the 5th seeded Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen in two games also and the 4th seeded Tian and Jiaming are also through to the last 16 to take on Mateusiak and Zieba of Poland.

Day 3 results

Jonassen Couldn't Help Ouseph Beat Gade

Three quarter final places was the goal for the home nation going into the world championships, after just two days they are down to just four players and partnerships left in the five events. The four are spread across four different events, but the surprise defeat of the 10th seeded Robertson and Wallwork makes the goal of three quarter final places an unlikely one.

Lin Dan was the main attraction in the men’s singles today, with a two game victory ensuring his place in the last 32 tomorrow against Ireland’s Scott Evans who was also a winner in two games. Peter Gade ended English’s best chances of a good run in the singles in his two game victory over Rajiv Ouseph, whilst Toby Penty won the all-UK clash in the first round despite only getting into the event as a wild card. There were wins for Simon Santoso, Tien Minh Nguyen and Boonsak Ponsana, with the 10th seed having to come from a game down to defeat Eric Pang.

Wang Shixian’s campaign got off to the perfect start with a two game victory over Bulgaria’s Linda Zechiri, Jiang Yanjiao also progressed in two games to ensure a full compliment of Chinese players left in the draw after the shock defeat in the men’s singles by Kevin Cordon over Chen Long. One seed did fall today, Eriko Hirose was defeated by Spain’s Carolina Marin in three games, with the Spaniard claiming another impressive scalp on her way into the last 16 where she will meet Cheng Shao Chieh, the 7th seed in the 3rd round. Tine Baun kept European hopes alive with her two game victory over Chan Tsz Ka of Hong Kong, but did have to save three game points in the opening game before taking it 26-24.

Top seeded Cai and Fu had to battle through against their Russian opponents in three games to reach the last 16 where they will play the 12th seeded Kawamae and Sato of Japan, who defeated the Polish pair of Cwalina and Logosz. The 8th seeded Chandra and Gunawan also had to fight through in 3 games to reach the third round, where they will take on the 16th seeded Rasmussen and Conrad-Petersen who had little trouble in reaching the last 16. Lee and Jung also started their campaign with a win over England’s Clark and Langridge in two games to set up a match with the 14th seeded Endo and Hayakawa, who defeated Smith and Warfe of Australia in two games.

Top seeded Wang and Yu were rarely trouble in their opening match, defeated the Swedish pair of Wengberg and Lennartsson in two games to reach the last 16. There will be an all-Japanese third round match as Maeda and Suetsuna, seeded 3 take on the 15th seeded Misaki and Takahashi with both winning their matches in two games. One of the main European threats crashed out, with the 13th seeded Jonathans and Van Dooremalen losing out to the Hong Kong pair of Chan and Chau.

England’s big hope of a medal this year has already ended in the mixed doubles, with the 10th seeded Robertson and Wallwork crashing out in the second round to Malaysia’s Chan and Goh in two games. There is still interest with Adcock and Bankier flying the GB flag after their two game victory over Ng and Gao of Canada. Top seeded Zhao and Zhang progressed safely into the last 16 where they take on the 13th seeded German pair of Fuchs and Michels whilst the 3rd seeded Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam crashed out in the second round to the unseeded Singapore pairing of Triyachart and Yao. There was no problem for the 2009 world champions, Laybourn and Rytter Juhl who progressed in two games to set up a 3rd round match against Chen and Cheng of Chinese Taipei who also won in two games today over Hashimoto and Fujii of Japan.

Day 2 Results

Chen Long

Chen Long Falls To Kevin Cordon

The story of the day didn’t come from China, Indonesia, Malaysia of Denmark. It came from Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon as he gave us the first major shock in this years world championships in his three game victory over Chen Long, seeded 5.

His stunning upset could potentially aid the top seeded Lee Chong Wei, who was far from his best in his opening round victory but progressed in two games regardless. It was a day that seen Kenichi Tago and Hu Yun, seeded 15 and 16 also crash out, but today’s story in the men’s singles was Cordon’s victory.  Current world champion Chen Jin progressed safely in two games, as did the 4th seeded Taufik Hidayat and the 14th seeded Marc Zwiebler, whose quarter of the top half of the draw has been made all the more easier with Chen Long’s absence. Park Sung Hwan set up an all-Korean second round clash with Shon Wan Ho and Ville Lang has the unenviable task of taking on Lee Chong Wei in the second round on Wednesday.

There were no seeds on show in the women’s singles, only 32 women looking for a chance to face a seed in round 2. Linda Zechiri of Bulgaria will take on the top seeded Wang Shixian in round 2, whilst Elizabeth Cann and Susan Egelstaff’s dreams to represent Great Britain the 2012 Olympics could top the balance to the English woman with the results today, with Cann progressing into round and Egelstaff’s losing to Michelle Li of Canada in two games. Spain’s Carolina Marin was the star in the opening round, with her two game victory over Yao Jie of the Netherlands and a place in the second round against the 15th seeded Eriko Hirose.

The 2005 world champions dream ended at the first hurdle, with Bach and Gunawan losing to Malaysia’s Abdul Latif and Hoon in two games, who take on the 10th seeded Fang and Lee in the second round. Markus Kido’s withdrawal means that Hong and Shen receive a walkover over the 6th seeded Indonesian, before taking on the winners of the Fang/Lee and Abdul Latif/Hoon matchup. Russia’s Ivanov and Sozonov take on the top seeded Cai and Fu in the second round, defeating the English pair of Ellis and Mills. There was English success in the opening round, Clark and Langridge are into round 2 and take on the 3rd seeded Lee and Jung whilst the other English pair in the last 32, Adcock and Ellis also have a tough take in the second round against the 4th seeded Ko and Yoo of Korea.

English wild card pairing of Langley and Smith progressed into the second round of the women’s doubles, making them the last English pair left in the competition and take on the 11th seeded Poon and Tse. There was further bad news for Korea with the withdrawal of the 6th seeded Ha and Kim meaning the Dutch pair of Piek and Tabeling receive a second round bye. India’s Gutta and Ponnappa progressed into the second round to take on the 2nd seeded Chein and Cheng whilst the Malaysia pair of Chin and Wong defeated England’s Wallwork and White to book a place in the second round against the 4th seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa of Japan.

Fujii partnered Hashimoto in the mixed doubles and progressed into round 2 with victory over Liu and Ko of Canada to set up a second round clash with the 7th seeded Chen and Cheng of Chinese Taipei. England’s only seeded pair, Robertson and Wallwork take on the Malaysian pair of Chan and Goh in the second round after the Malaysian’s defeated Munoz and Gonzalez of Mexico in their opening round match whilst Selena Piek received another walkover, this time in the mixed doubles and will take on Xu and Ma of China in the second round with partner Jacco Arends.

Day 1 Results

The Chinese domination in recent years of this event would make picking a winner a straight fight between Wang Xin, Wang Yihan, Wang Shixian and Jiang Yanjiao. If the World Championships have taught us anything in recent years, it’s to expect the unexpected.

There is European resistance this year, with Tine Baun and Juliane Schenk hoping to defeat the Chinese seeds in the top half whilst in the bottom half of the draw, Saina Nehwal carries the hope of an entire nation once more into a major competition.

The Favourites:

Wang Shixian

Seeded – 1

2010 Result – Semi Finals

2nd Round Opponent – Zechiri/Rochdy

Likely Threats – Jiang Yanjiao (SF)

Her rise from unknown to world #1 in just over 2 and a half years has been not short of breathtaking but coming into this championships, her form is far from exceptional with losses to Lu Lan, Cheng Shao Chieh and most notably Tine Baun in her three previous events, her All-England triumph on her previous visit to British soil is almost a distant memory.

In the frightening competitiveness of the Chinese players, some would go as far as to say she’s not the best player in China, let alone in the world. The 21-year old has poor records against her Chinese teammates and her likely semi final opponent, Jiang Yanjiao has won 4 of the 6 meetings to date.

Wang Yihan

Seeded – 2

2010 Result – Round 2

2nd Round Opponent – Gu/Posana

Likely Threats – Wang Xin (SF)

Wang Yihan was heralded as the future of the Chinese game just 2 years ago and whilst 2010 was a stumbling block in that claim, her 2011 campaign has reasserted her at the top of the women’s singles game.

She enters the tournament as Asian Games champion and the winner of the most recent Super Series Premier event in Indonesia. The 23-year old is the biggest threat to Wang Shixian, as both look to claim their first world title.

The Contenders

Wang Xin

Seeded – 3

2010 Result – Runner-Up

2nd Round Opponent – Gavnholt/Prokopenko

Likely Threats – Saina Nehwal (QF) Wang Yihan (SF)

Wang Xin comes into the event as the elder stateswoman of the Chinese squad at just 25 but is considered the third best singles player in her country. 9 months ago she was world #1 but the emergence of Wang Shixian and return to form of Wang Yihan makes Wang Xin’s chances reaching the final for the second year final remote.

Her route to the last 8 is favourable, before her likely matchup against Saina Nehwal who defeated her in the Sudirman Cup in May. The 21-15, 21-11 victory is a distinct warning to Wang Xin that she must be at her best to reach the later stages of this event.

Jiang Yanjiao

Seeded – 4

2010 Result – DNP

2nd Round Opponent – Fu/Griga

Likely Threats – Tine Baun (QF) Wang Shixian (SF)

Jiang Yanjiao has been the world scene since 2006 but this is her first world championship at the age of 24. She comes into the tournament at the expense of Lin Xiu and Li Xuerui, but her rise to this point has been staggering. She was outside the top 80 in October of last year, but is now the world #4.

Her Asian Games victory over Liu Xin was one of the main reasons she has reached this world championships, she is undoubtedly the outside bet from the four Chinese players but her 4-2 head to head against the top seeded Wang Shixian is the stand out statistic, she has earned her place at the world championships.

Tine Baun

Seeded – 5

2010 Result – Semi Final

2nd Round Opponent – Chan/Cicognini

Likely Threats – Jiang Yanjiao (QF) Wang Shixian (SF)

It is almost the yearly tradition that Tine Baun comes into this event with the hopes of Europe on her shoulders to steal the women’s singles title away from China. Not since Camilla Martin in 1999 has a non-Chinese player won the world title.

Baun’s form coming into the event couldn’t be poorer, a stunning loss in the US Open 2 weeks ago to world #43 Kaori Imabeppu has question marks over her chances of winning the title this year and breaking the Chinese stranglehold on this event.

Saina Nehwal

Seeded – 6

2010 – Quarter Final

2nd Round Opponent – Magee/Firdasari

Likely Threats – Wang Xin (QF) Wang Yihan (SF)

India holds it’s breath that the Commonwealth Games champion can claim the world title. Her opening few rounds are favourable before the inevitable match against Wang Xin in the last 8.

Nehwal’s preparations ahead of this event are almost exactly the same as the build up to her Commonwealth Games triumph, with 6 weeks out from competitive play, she chose not to play in the US or Canada feeling that her defeat in the final of the Indonesian Open had her playing to the top of her ability.

The Outsiders

Eriko Hirose

Seeded – 15

2010 Result – Quarter Final

1st Round Opponent – Yao/Marin

Likely Threats – Cheng Shao Chieh (Last 16) Wang Shixian (QF)

Hirose ended the chances of Wang Yihan in 2010 in the 3rd round last year and had a chance to potentially take out the top seed in 2011 also in the quarter final. Her recent form has been poor but her run like Kazushi Yamada’s in the men’s singles makes her a dangerous opponent this year.

Carolina Marin

Unseeded

2010 Result – DNP

1st Round Opponent – Yao Jie (Netherlands)

Likely Threats – Eriko Hirose (Last 32) Cheng Shao Chieh (Last 16)

The 18-year old Spaniard is one of the future stars of the European game, already winning her national championship and gets the opportunity that many hoped that Viktor Axelsen would get in the men’s singles, the chance to take on the current crop of stars and test her game at the very highest level. She will be one to watch this week and in the future, even if her run at the title ends in Round 1.

Pi Hongyan

Unseeded

2010 Result – Quarter Final

1st Round Opponent – Sarah Walker (England)

Likely Threats – Bae Youn Joo (Last 32)  Wang Yihan (QF)

Forgotten about? Probably. Taken seriously? Absolutely. Her steady decline from a top 10 player to world #23 means she is far from the force she was 12 months ago in her run to the last 8 but her start against the English wild card Sarah Walker will ease her into the event before taking on Bae Youn Joo, who have both won a match in their 2 encounters.

Round 1 takes place on Monday, August 8 with the seeded players playing their first matches in Round 2 on Tuesday, August 9.

Women’s Singles Draw:

Can Zweibler Keep The Momentum?

With the pending retirement of Lee Chong Wei looming after the 2012 Olympics, the Malaysian world #1 has focused all of his efforts this year claiming one of the few titles to elude him in his career. His performances this year has propelled him to the undoubted favourite for the title, even with Lin Dan in the draw. The Chinese 2nd seed has also allegedly set his retirement after the 2012 Games in London, with both players not even reaching 30. China’s big hope has hand picked the events he has played since his Olympic triumph in Beijing three years ago.

There is the European threat, with Peter Gade who never considered a retirement before the age of 30 but still looking to claim his first world title. He is seeded 3rd this year to break up the Asian dominance in the top seeds this year. The next generation could break through this year with the likes of Chen Long, Kenichi Tago and Du Pengyu all receiving seeds this year.

There are some players to watch also from the 48 unseeded players, Kazushi Yamada reached the last 8 in Paris last year, Shon Wan Ho was a top 16 this year and Spain’s Pablo Abian is one of the most consistent players on the EBU Circuit.

The Favourites:

Lee Chong Wei

Seeded – 1

2010 Result – Quarter Finals

1st Round Opponent – Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (Thailand)

Likely Threats – Park Sung Hwan (Last 16) Chen Long (QF)

His performances in the past 8 months have put him at a level of invincibility that Lin Dan had going into the 2008 Olympics.  His opener against the world #32 Saensomboonsuk is s favourable start as Lee Chong Wei could have hoped for. He hold a 5-0 head to head advantage and has failed to drop a game in any of the five matches.

His 3rd round match if the seeds go according to plan is the world #9 Park Sung Hwan, who he holds an 11-1 head to head advantage against with that single victory for the Korean coming in 2004. Chen Long is a likely quarter final opponent,  but the Chinese player has only claimed a single win over the Malaysian in five matches and that was in 2009.

This event is ultimately Lee Chong Wei’s to lose.  With four Super Series victories in 2011 already to his name as well as winning two of their last three Super Series against Lin Dan.

Lin Dan

Seeded – 2

2010 Result – Quarter Finals

1st Round Opponent – Kestutis Navickas (Lithuania)

Likely Threats – Peter Gade (SF)

The 2009 world champion tamely crashed out last year and controversy had surrounded the Chinese player since.  Withdrawals before matches with Chinese players has been given as various injuries but losses to Sho Sasaki as well as Lee Chong Wei on numerous occasions have seen Lin Dan’s aura of invincibility disappear.

It will be his first meeting with Navickas on his opening round match, with a massive question mark looming over a potential quarterfinal match with Du Pengyu. Peter Gade should be his likely semi final opponent, who defeated him in the Swiss Open in 2010 but his overall record over the Dane is an impressive 14-3 in the Chinese players favour.

Lin Dan is capable of winning this event, if he turns up without the controversy that his plagued him for the past 12 months.

The Contenders

Peter Gade

Seeded – 3

2010 Result – Semi Finals

1st Round Opponent – Rajiv Ouseph (England)

Likely Threats – Simon Santoso (Last 16) Lin Dan (SF)

The 34-year old goes into the event knowing that he is capable of reaching the final of the world championships, a feat he accomplished ten years ago in Seville. His record against the top two seeds is poor, to say the least but his sole victory of Lee Chong Wei resulted in his last Super Series victory (Korean Open, 2009).

His opening match against England’s Rajiv Ouseph is a favourable one, with the Dane holding a 6-0 head to head advantage and the Englishman failing to claim a single game in any of the six defeats. His 3rd round match against Simon Santoso will be his first main test, with the Indonesian claiming a victory this year against Gade in Korea.

Chen Jin

Seeded – 6

2010 Result – Winner

1st Round Opponent – Raul Must (Estonia)

Likely Threats – Taufik Hidayat (QF) Lee Chong Wei (SF)

To say that Chen Jin was a surprise winner last year would be an understatement. It was so improbable that few could have believed that a Taufik Hidayat – Chen Jin final was possible. The two could potentially meet once again at the last 8 stage, with Chen Jin leading the head to head 3-1.

Raul Must is Chen Jin’s first opponent this week and their first meeting ever. Chen Jin’s recent form has been average, after inheriting the Singapore Open title with a Lin Dan withdrawal and three defeats to Sho Sasaki this year has seriously dented his credentials of retaining his world title.

Taufik Hidayat

Seeded – 4

2010 – Runner-Up

1st Round Opponent – Rodrigo Pacheco Carrillo (Peru)

Likely Threats – Chen Jin (QF) Lee Chong Wei (SF)

Taufik Hidayat took the decision to play the US Open and Canada Open in the build up to the World Championships and suffered a double dose of defeat from Marc Zwiebler, who defeated him in both tournaments.

His opening match against Peruvian Rodrigo Pacheco is one of the easiest matches the Indonesian could have faced and has already defeated the world #61 previously in the world championships, albeit eight years previously.

Hidayat has to prove he is capable of competing with the top 10 players once again and put the double disappointment of the US and Canada Open behind him.

The Outsiders

Marc Zweibler

Seeded – 14

2010 Result – 3rd Round

1st Round Opponent – Valeriy Atrashchenkov (Ukraine)

Likely Threats – Chen Long (Last 16) Lee Chong Wei (QF)

No player is coming into the event on a better run of form than the German, two victories in the US Open and Canada Open has put him well inside the top 20 in the world and with a very favourable opening two rounds before his biggest test against Chen Long.

Kazushi Yamada

Unseeded

2010 Result – Quarter Finals

1st Round Opponent – Daniel Paiola (Brazil)

Likely Threats – Du Pengyu (Last 32)

He appeared from almost nowhere in 2010 before losing out to Peter Gade in the quarterfinals, his run last year was a warning to all of the top players that the world championships is the premier event of the year and anyone can beat anyone on their day, can Yamada repeat the feat in 2011?

Sho Sasaki

Seeded – 11

2010 Result – Did Not Play

1st Round Opponent – Brice Leverdez (France)

Likely Threats – Du Pengyu (Last 16) Lin Dan (QF)

His impressive 2011 has made him into a player that nobody wants to face, Lin Dan, Chen Jin, Boonsak Ponsana , Park Sung Hwan and Tien Minh Nguyen have all lost to Sasaki in 2011. His second round match could be easier than his opener against Leverdez, who Sasaki was ranked lower than 12 month previously.

Kenichi Tago

Seeded – 15

2010 Result – 2nd Round

1st Round Opponent – Ajay Jayaram (India)

Likely Threats – Chen Jin (Last 16) Taufik Hidayat (QF)

His heroics in the 2010 All England proved he could play with the best in the world, his impressive wins over Zweibler and Santoso in the Sudirman was a reminder just a few months ago that he is a player not to be taken likely. His most recent match against his potential 3rd round opponent was a victory over Chen Jin in his run the 2010 All England final.

Play begins on August 8, with two days of first round matches.

Men’s Singles Draw:

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