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.
Lee Chong Wei claimed his 8th Malaysian Open in a demonstration of his ability against Kenichi Tago in the one of the most one-sided of their 11 meetings to date.
Lee Chong Wei Too Good
The highly anticipated final between Tago and Lee Chong Wei never materialized as a true contest, with too many errors from the Japanese player in the opening game. The first match was done in just 13 minutes, with the world number 1 taking the opening game 21-6. After a small delay in the second game, the Malaysian continued his masterclass and eventually took the second game 21-13h to clinch his second Super Series title of 2012 and his 25th of his career.
Top Chinese Seeds Win
It was the first against the second seeds in the all-Chinese finals, with a gulf in class clearly evident in the mixed doubles final as Zhang and Zhao got back to winning ways against their team mates Xu and Ma in a one-sided final, winning 21-12, 21-9 in just 27 minutes. Wang Yihan defeated Wang Xin in the women’s singles final, after a tight opening game the world number 1 was much more comfortable in the second game. Her 21-19, 21-11 victory is a clear sign that she is the top player in the world, not just in China.
Danish Delight In Doubles
Fang and Lee claiming the men’s doubles title against Cho and Shin, with the world number 13′s claiming their first Super Series title after dropping the opening game only to bounce back and claim the next two games. Rytter Juhl and Pedersen claimed Europe’s only title in the women’s doubles final after defeating the Korean pair of Ha and Kim in two games as the 2nd seed lost in the final of this event for the second week running.
A nation expects on finals day as Lee Chong Wei looks to claim his second title of 2012 on home soil after a three-game, 76-minute victory over Chen Long in the final match on semi finals days.
Tago Into Final
Keinchi Tago’s semi final with Chen Jin lasted just 5 points before the Chinese 5th seeded pulled out of the match, allowing the Japanese player a free pass into tomorrow’s final. It will be Tago’s 11th meeting with Lee Chong Wei, having lost the previous 10 and claiming just two games from those matches. Lee Chong Wei will hope to claim his final title on home soil tomorrow, with a nation expecting victory.
Two All-Chinese Finals
Without the big names in the doubles, the Chinese squad have still managed to claim a pair of all-Chinese matches. The first is in the women’s singles where Wang Yihan takes on Wang Xin for the title, with the world number one having a 7-2 advantage in their head to heads to date. The other final comes in the mixed doubles, as the top two pairs in the world battle it out for the 9th time, with the current world champions holding a 6-2 advantage.
The men’s doubles has for the first time in recent history no seeds in the final, with Cho and Shin of Korea taking on Fang and Lee of Chinese Taipei. Cho and Shin defeated Chai and Guo in their semi final whilst Fang and Lee took out Hashimoto and Hirata in their semi final to set up this unlikely final.
Rytter Juhl and Pedersen are the sole European hope on finals day, after defeating Zhong and Yixin to set up a final against the second seeded Ha and Kim of Korea. The 2nd seeds defeating Matsuo and Naito in their semi final to set up the 4th encounter between these two paits, with the Korean’s holding a 3-0 advantage to date.
It was 18th and potentially last encounter between two of the greatest players of the last 15 years, as Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat took on Lee Chong Wei on his home soil in Malaysia.
Tago Takes Out Another Seed
Kenichi Tago’s victory over Simon Santoso was his second seeded scalp this week, after taking out Gade in the second round. The unseeded Japanese player defeated the 7th seeded Santoso in a one-sided match, winning 21-15, 21-9 to set up a semi final against Chen Jin of China. The 5th seed defeated Jan O Jorgensen in his quarter final in a three game match to ensure his place in the last 4.
Lee Chong Wei defeated Taufik Hidayat in two games to claim his 12th victory in their 18 matchups to reach the last 4 to set up his 10th encounter with China’s Chen Long, who has taken 3 of the last 4 matches against the world number 1. Chen Long defeated Sho Sasaki in three games to reach the last 4 and set up his semi final with Lee Chong Wei.
Top 4 Into Semis
The top 4 seeds in the women’s singles are all present at the semi final stage this week, with Saina Nehwal breaking the Chinese monopoly on the semi final places. Wang Yihan takes on Saina Nehwal in the first of the semi finals, with the world number 1 not dropping a game to date whilst Nehwal was taken to a third game for the second time this week by Tine Baun in her quarter final. Wang Xin takes on Wang Shixian in the other semi final with their head to head evenly matched at 5-5 going into tomorrow’s semi final.
One European Hope Remains
The doubles events have been dominated by the Asian’s this week, with just a single European pairing left in either of the three events. Only two seeds remain in the men’s doubles as Chai and Guo take on the unseeded Korean pair of Cho and Shin for a place in Sunday’s final, whilst the other semi finals sees the 6th seeded Hashimoto and Hirata take on the unseeded Chinese Taipei pair of Fang and Lee, who defeated their second Chinese pairing of Hong and Shen to reach the semi finals.
Pedersen and Rytter Juhl are the only European hope left in any draw, their victory over the top seeded Japanese pairing of Fujii and Kakiiwa sets up a semi final against Zhong and Yixin of China who benefitted from a retirement from Woo and Hong halfway through the second game of their quarter final. The other semi final sees the 2nd seeded Ha and Kim take on the 4th seeded Matsuo and Naito of Japan.
Lee Yong Dae’s run ends at the quarter final stage, as he and partner Ha Jung Eun lost to the 2nd seeded Xu and Ma of China in two games. The Chinese pairing take on the 4th seeded Ahmad and Natsir in the semi finals after the Indonesian’s defeated the Thai pairing of Jongjit and Amitapai to reach the last 4. Chan and Goh saved four match points before their eventual progression to the last 4 to ensure some Malaysian interest in the semi finals. Their opponents in the semi final are the top seeded Zhang and Zhao of China who defeated the on-form pairing of Nikolaenko and Soronkina in their quarter final match.
Quarter Final Results
Gade’s defeat to Kenichi Tago was a massive blow to the Danish squad but the heroics of Jan O Jorgensen in his three game victory over the World and Olympic champion Lin Dan stole the headlines on day 2.
Lee Chong Wei Takes On Taufik
The doubters over Taufik’s desire to continue to perform at the highest level have lessened of the past month, with a victory in India and his run this week to the last 8 after this victory over Tien Minh Nguyen. His opponent in the last 8 is the world number 1 Lee Chong Wei who defeat Kazushi Yamada in two games to reach the quarter finals.
The doubters have now focussed on Peter Gade. Two early exits in Korea and this week in Malaysia to Kenichi Tago have put question marks over Gade’s chances at the London Olympics. Jan O Jorgensen could well be a legitimate contender to take over the Danish number 1 spot ahead of the summer after a stunning three game victory over Lin Dan in one of the last matches of the day.
5 From 8 For The Chinese
Only Tine Baun stopped a full compliment of Chinese players entering the quarter finals, with the Dane defeating Liu Xin in two games to set up the only quarter final without Chinese interest against Saina Nehwal of India. Juliane Schenk doubles the European involvement in the latter stages, but takes on the 3rd seed Wang Shixian in her quarter final matchup. Two all-Chinese matchups make up the remaining quarter finals, with top seeded Wang Yihan taking on Li Xuerui in the first of the quarter finals whilst Wang Xin takes on Jiang Yanjiao in the more competitive of the two matches.
Seeds Topple Throughout The Doubles
Just two rounds in and the draws for all three doubles events have been decimated. Just three seeds remain in the men’s doubles, headlined by the 3rd seeded Chai and Guo who take on Kido and Setiawan to be the last remaining seed left in the top half of the draw. Hashimoto and Hirata are the last seeds left in the bottom half of the draw and they take on Kim and Kim of Korea in their quarter final match, with the Korean’s taking out the 4th seeded Koo and Tan to ensure their place in the last 8.
The women’s doubles is often the event where 8 seeds will make up the last 8 but not this week. Just five seeds remain with top seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa taking on the 7th seeded Rytter Juhl and Pedersen in the last 8. Hoo and Woon take on Zhong and Yixin in the only quarter final without a seed taking part and the only Chinese pair left in the draw. 2nd seeded Ha and Kim take on the final unseeded pair left in the draw, taking on Chin and Wong of Malaysia in their quarter final match.
Just three seeds remain in the mixed doubles also, with the Russian pair of Nikolaenko and Sorokina continuing their excellent form to start the year. Their reward for defeating the 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl is a quarter final against the current world champions, Zhang and Zhao of China. Xu and Ma take on Lee and Ha of Korea in the bottom half of the draw in a rematch of the Korean Open final, a match that the Chinese pair won in three games.
Lee Chong Wei’s final Super Series event in his home nation started with an all-Malaysian encounter with Daren Liew, wrapped up in just over a half hour to give his fanatical home support a brief glimpse of what he is capable of this week.
Every Seed Through
The week has started completely differently to Seoul just 7 days ago, every seed has progressed as well as Taufik Hidayat, who has propped himself back into the top 10 in the world with a win in India over the Christmas period. Jan O Jorgensen’s reward for his three game battle with Du Pengyu is a even bigger Chinese threat, world number 2 Lin Dan. The 2nd seed defeat Viktor Axelsen in two games to set up his second round match, with the Danish teenager getting a lot more experience at Super Series level with the pending retirement of Peter Gade. Gade progressed in two tight games over Wong Wing Ki to set up a second round match against Kenichi Tago. Taufik Hidayat defeated Chou Tien Chen in two games to book his place in the last 16 against Tien Minh Nguyen of Vietnam, seeded 7.
6 Through To Last 16
The all-conquering Chinese squad are here in numbers in the women’s singles, with the prospect of 6 players in the last 8 looming tomorrow. Top seeded Wang Yihan takes on Bae Youn Joo of Korea, a quarter finalist in Korea last week. 2nd seeded Wang Xin takes on Eriko Hirose of Japan in her second round match, with a likely quarter final match with Jiang Yanjiao should the 6th seeded defeat Pi Hongyan of France. The European threat as always comes from Tine Baun and Juliane Schenk, with both players progressing to the second round, with Baun having the toughest draw facing Liu Xin of China in her second round match.
Shocks and Withdrawals Open Door For New Winners
The men’s doubles is without the top two in the world this week, leaving Ko and Yoo as the clear favourites this week. Their run lasted just a single round as they were shocked in the 1st round by Endo and Hayakawa of Japan. The draw is wide open with the 3rd seed Chai and Guo being the top seeds left in the draw but needing three games to beat Ellis and Mills of England in their opening round matches. There were wins for the 4th seeded Koo and Tan as well as the 5th seeded Ahsan and Septano to ensure some seeds remained in the draw.
Without the top two Chinese pairs in the women’s doubles, the draw is an absolute lottery as there will be a non-Chinese winner of this event for the first time in almost a year. Fujii and Kakiiwa are the top seeds this week and started off strongly with a three game victory over the Chinese pair of Huan and Tang. Finalists last week, Ha and Kim are the second seeds this week and they also started strong with a two game victory over Wallwork and White of England. The biggest casualty of the opening round was the 3rd seeded Maeda and Suetsuna who crashed out to Malaysia’s Woon and Hoo in three games.
The mixed doubles has a full compliment of Chinese pairs, with four in the last 16. Zhao and Zhang are safely into round 2 with a two game victory over Lee and Chien whilst the bottom half sees an all-Chinese second round clash between Ma and Xu playing He and Yixin after both pairs won in two games. The Russian pair of Nikolaenko and Sorokina continue their excellent run of form, disposing of the 6th seeded Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam to reach the second round where they will take on the 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl.
After losing the top seed in the mixed doubles, the Chinese squad got back on track in Seoul today whilst the Danish contingent had little to celebrate in the second round.
Four Seeds Remain
The top two in the world progressed to the last 8 with both needing the full three games to ensure their place in the quarter finals. Lee Chong Wei was tested by Shon Wan Ho before eventually setting up his quarter final match with Kenichi Tago. Simon Santoso is the other seed remaining in the top half of the draw who will likely move up the rankings after this week after securing a quarter final match against Du Pengyu who continues his excellent run with a three game victory over Hu Yun.
A lot was expected of Marc Zwiebler after his double victory over Taufik Hidayat and he has finally delivered with a run to a Premier quarter final against Sho Sasaki. The Japanese 6th seed was impressive in his two game victory over Wang Zhengming to ensure his place in the last 8. Jan O Jorgensen claimed the biggest scalp of the day in his victory over Chen Jin in three games to set up a quarter final against Lin Dan, who had his own struggles in beating Lee Hyun Il before progressing in three games.
Chinese Presence In All Quarter Finals
All four of the quarter finals will have some Chinese presence as the three seeded players are joined in the last 8 by Li Xuerui. Juliane Schenk is the sole European in the draw but will have a tough test to still be in the draw after the end of play tomorrow as she takes on Wang Yihan, whilst Jiang Yanjiao or Saina Nehwal will face the winner depending on the result of their quarter final in the top half of the draw. Wang Shixian takes on Gu Juan for a place in the last 4 whilst the only non-seeded Chinese player Li Xuerui takes on Bae Youn Joo in the second quarter final in the bottom half of the draw.
Seeds Topple In Men’s Doubles
Only three seeds remain in the draw, with a Cai/Fu versus Lee/Jung final looming large. Boe and Mogensen crashed out to Hong and Shen of China who take on Korea’s Kim and Kim for a place in the semi final. Lee and Jung needed three games to ensure their place in the last 8 where they will take on the Chinese Taipei pair of Fang and Lee a place in the last 4. Cai and Fu saved a match point before booking their place in the quarter finals against the German pairing of Fuchs and Roth, the last remaining European pair in the draw. Ko and Yoo will hope to ensure an all-Korean final as they try to progress into the last 4 in their match against Endo and Hayakawa of Japan.
Chinese Powerhouses Cruise Into Last 8
Wang and Yu progressed into the last 8 in straight forward fashion, and were joined by their team-mates Tian and Zhao in equally impressive fashion. The prospect of a ninth meeting of the year in Sunday is almost a foregone conclusion, such is their gap at the top of the world’s elite. Xu and Ma are into the last 8 in the mixed doubles and take on the 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl in their quarter final matchup. Whilst in the top half, He and Yixin ensured a Chinese involvement after their victory over Adcock and Bankier in the second round.
Several seeds crashed out of the opening round in Seoul, but there were some big-name departures on the opening day also.
Gade & Taufik Crash Out
Whilst Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan both progressed into the second round, the two big surprises were the loss of the 3rd and 4th seeded players. Chen Long retired from his opening round match with Hsu Jen Hao trailing 20-15 in the first game whilst Peter Gade was comprehensively beaten by Du Pengyu of China, with the Dane losing 21-9, 21-12. Gade cited his busy schedule over the last 4 months as a factor in his defeat to the world number 11.
Kenichi Tago disposed of the 7th seeded Tien Minh Nugyen to take the number of seeds left in the event down to 5. The big match not containing a seed seen Taufik Hidayat crash out at the first round to England’s Rajiv Ouseph to further question the Indonesian’s ability to qualify for the London Olympics.
Seeds Topple In Women’s Singles
There was a similar story in the women’s singles, with 3rd seeded Wang Xin losing out to Bae Youn Joo in third games as well as Sung Ji Hyun crashing out to Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in two games. Wang Yihan needed three games to defeat Jie Yao but there was no such trouble for Wang Shixian who progressed safely into the second round.
Denmark Lead European Charge
With the loss of Gade, the Danes will rely on their doubles partnerships to bring some success in Seoul. Boe and Mogensen needed three games to defeat the 2005 world champs Bach and Gunawan and are joined in the last 16 by Conrad-Petersen and Rasmussen who take on the 4th seeded Ko and Yoo in the second round. The top two seeds in the men’s doubles both progressed in straightforward fashion, winning their matches in 2 games.
Wang and Yu reminded everyone why they are the best pair in the world with a merciless 21-7, 21-5 victory over Wang and Wang of the USA. Tian and Zhao also progressed easily to set up their all Chinese second round against Yixin and Zhong. The lone Danish pair left is Rytter Juhl and Pedersen who take on the 7th seeded Japanese pairing of Matsuo and Naito who were impressive in their 21-7, 21-9 over Grether and Reid of Canada.
The biggest shock of the day came in the mixed doubles as top seeded Zhao and Zhang crashed out to the British pair of Adcock and Bankier in a rematch of the 2011 World Championship final. The British pair take on another Chinese pair in the second round, facing He and Yixin. Xu and Ma lead the Chinese charge and take on the Russian qualifiers Durkin and Vislova in their second round match. The Danes have two seeded pairs remaining, the 3rd seeded Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen faught back from a game down to reach the last 16 whilst the 8th seeded Laybourn and Rytter Juhl defeated the British pairing of Blair and White to reach the last 16.
With a new Super Series season starting the BWF is once again providing free live streaming in select countries. The first event of the year is the Victor Korea Open 2012.
The coverage begins at 4am GMT on Thursday January 5th.
Round of 16