The first event of 2012 takes the world’s elite to Seoul for the biggest prize money of the year in the opening Super Series Premier event.
Tough Start For Gade
Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan both avoided a potentially tough opener, with the world number 1 taking on Kashyap Parupalli of India whilst Lin Dan has a first round clash with Spain’s Pablo Abian. Chen Long takes on a qualifier whilst Peter Gade has the toughest draw of the top four seeds as he takes on Du Pengyu of China. The world number 4 and world number 11 clash in the biggest match of the opening day of play. Gade holds a 3-0 head to head advantage and won their most recent encounter in China in late November last year.
Tien Minh Nguyen will be tested in his opening round match against Keinchi Tago in another fantastic opening round match with countless intriguing encounters taking place out with the seeded players. Boonsak Ponsana and Wang Zhengming also clash in the opening round, as well as Lee Hyun Il taking on Wong Wing Ki. Taufik Hidayat starts with a potential banana skin against Rajiv Ouseph of England, with a loss almost ensure he will drop out of the top 16 in the world.
Chinese Presence Throughout
The top 3 seeds in the women’s singles are as expected, Chinese. With Wang Yihan claiming the top seed and an opening round match against Jie Yao of Holland, Wang Shixian is seeded 2 and takes on Fu Mingtian of Singapore. The 3rd seed Wang Xin takes on Bae Youn Joo of Korea in the toughest of the three encounters, taking on the world number 14. Saina Nehwal takes on Susan Egelstaff in a rematch of the 2010 Commonwealth Games semi final whilst the final Chinese seed, Jiang Yanjiao take on Bulgaria’s Linda Zechiri in the opening round.
European hopes lie with Tine Baun, seeded 5th this week the Dane takes on the Canadian Michelle Li in a potentially tough opener. Juliane Schenk is seeded 7 but faces Liu Xin of China in her opening match in the biggest match of the opening round in the women’s singles draw. Liu Xin is ranked 10 in the world and holds a 2-0 head to head advantage against her German opponent.
The 3rd Force In Men’s Doubles?
Boe and Mogensen come into 2012 as the form pair in the men’s doubles after success in the Super Series Finals before Christmas and come into this week seeded 3. Their opening round match is against the 2005 world champions, Bach and Gunawan of the USA with a potential rematch with Lee and Jung in the semi finals. The 2nd seeds are the defending champions and take on Kumar and Thomas of India in their opening round match.
Top seeds Cai and Fu crashed out of the Super Series Finals at the group stage and have a potentially tough opener against the Polish pair of Logosz and Cwalina whilst the 4th seeded Korean pair of Ko and Yoo take on the Chinese pairing of Liu and Qiu of China, who are ranked 15 in the world.
Wang And Yu Still The Pair To Beat
World number 1 since June and haven’t lost a match since January of last year, Wang and Yu are the super power of the women’s doubles and come into 2012 looking for an unthinkable run of a year without losing a match. They start 2012 with a opening round match against Wang and Wang of the USA and a likely matchup with the 2nd seeded Zhao and Tian in the final on Sunday. Zhao and Tian start their campaign against Agustin and Maheswari of Indonesia.
2011 World Championship Rematch
Zhang and Zhao take on Adcock and Bankier in a rematch of the 2011 World Championship final, this time in the opening round in Korea. It is a tough blow for the British pair hoping to grab valuable ranking points in a 3-way fight for an Olympic place with Robertson and Wallwork as well as White and Blair. The 8th seeds and 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl wait in the first round for White and Blair. The 2nd seeded Xu and Ma start with a tough opener of their own, taking on Widianto and Marissa of Indonesia with both previous meetings going to three games.
Lee and Eun of Korea are the wildcard of the draw, they take on a qualifier in their opening round before a likely second round match with Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam of Thailand.
The chance of a clean sheet on home soil loomed large, but Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen ensured a Danish success in Liuzhou.
Lin Dan and Wang Yihan Claim Singles Titles
Lin Dan completed his exceptional week with a second victory over Chen Long in 5 days, this time it was much more one seeded then their meeting on Wednesday with Lin Dan winning in two games. Wang Yihan needed to battle back from a game down against Saina Nehwal to claim the women’s singles titles, winning in 71-minutes in her third three game match of the week and spent almost 5 hours on court to claim the title this week.
Two More Titles in Doubles
Wang and Yu completed their 63rd victory over the year to claim yet another title in the women’s doubles over Ha and Kim for the second time this week, with the victory just as impressive as their group match win. Zhang and Zhao won the mixed doubles in their all-Chinese match against Xu and Ma also for the second time this week, but their victory in the final was much more one-sided than their group match.
Danish Delight In Men’s Doubles
There was a European victory in the men’s doubles as Boe and Mogensen defeated Chai and Guo to ensure there was no clean sweep for the Chinese. The Danes defeated the Chinese pairing in two games after winning a tight opening game 25-23, then cruised to victory with a 21-7 victory in the second game.
Seven of the ten finals spots will come from the home nation as they dominated in Liuzhou on semi finals day.
Two All-Chinese Finals
Chen Long started the morning session with another victory over the world number 1 to claim his third win over the Malaysian in their last 4 meetings and set up an all-Chinese final against Lin Dan. The Group B winner had little trouble in claiming his 16th victory over Peter Gade in two games to set up his clash with Chen Long in tomorrow’s final. The mixed doubles is also an all-Chinese affair, with Zhang and Zhao defeating the Japanese pairing of Ikeda and Shiota in routine fashion. Xu and Ma finally broke the streak of three consecutive losses over Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen in the other semi final, with the Chinese pair beating the Danes in two games to set up their second match against Zhang and Zhao this week.
Chinese Interest In Other Three Finals
Whilst they may not be all-Chinese finals, there is still interest the women’s singles, doubles and men’s doubles. Wang Yihan takes on Saina Nehwal in the women’s singles final, with the Indian beating Tine Baun in her semi final. Wang Yihan won the all-Chinese semi final against Wang Xin to claim her first victory over the world number 2 since the world championships in August. Wang and Yu won their semi final in a walkover against Zhang and Zhao and will take on the Korean pair of Ha and Kim in the final of the women’s doubles, with the two pairs already playing this week in a one-sided victory for the Chinese pair. The men’s doubles final is far from the expected pairings as Boe and Mogensen will take on Chai and Guo, with the Chinese pairing beating Lee and Jung in two games to reach the final whilst the Danish pair defeating the other Korean pair of Ko and Yoo in the other semi final in a three-game, 51 minute match.
Cai and Fu’s absence in the semi finals will be a loss for the home fans but the Chinese squad still have interest in every event. There is Danish involvement in all five events too with the headline match of tomorrow being Peter Gade against Lin Dan.
Peter Gade v Lin Dan
Head to Head: 15-3 Lin Dan
Peter Gade needed to defeat Lee Chong Wei to avoid this matchup, but the world number 1 was simply too strong for the Dane which seen Gade take second spot in the group. Lin Dan has dropped just a single game on route to the semi final stage against Chen Long and will go into tomorrow’s game as the undoubted favourite on recent form as well as the overwhelming head to head advantage for the current world champion.
Lee Chong Wei v Chen Long
Head to Head: 5-3 Lee Chong Wei
Chen Long has beaten Lee Chong Wei twice in their past three meetings, but Lee Chong Wei took their previous encounter at the French Super Series in three games to take back the momentum in their matchups. The Malaysian has just dropped a single set against Sho Sasaki in his group opener and was never in any doubt of winning his matches against Tago and Gade. Chen Long bounced back from an opening day defeat to Lin Dan to ensure second spot and a chance for a third victory over Lee Chong Wei in since September.
Wang Yihan v Wang Xin
Tine Baun v Saina Nehwal
Head to Heads: 6-2 Wang Yihan, 3-1 Tine Baun
The all-Chinese matchup was meant to be in the final, but Saina Nehwal’s victory over Wang Xin ensured she topped Group B and set up these matches instead of the expected ones. Despite Baun being the lower of the ranked players, the Dane has an excellent record against the Indian world number 4 and won their most recent matchup in Hong Kong last month. The all-Chinese semi final sees the top two in the world go head to head with the world number Wang Xin winning their previous two matches, however Wang Yihan did lead 18-12 in their most recent match before the world number 2 retired through injury.
Cai and Fu Out
The big Chinese disappointment is the absence of Cai and Fu but their form this week has been far from their stellar best. Their two game defeat to Ko and Yoo ensured they wouldn’t be taking part this weekend but instead the Korean pair would top Group A instead. Their opponents in the semi final is the Group B runners up, Boe and Mogensen who lost to Lee and Jung today in the fight for top spot in Group B, with the Korean pair taking on Chai and Guo of China in their semi final.
Top Two Collide
Wang and Yu topped their group in stunning fashion, but have been rewarded with a semi final against the world number 2 pairing of Tian and Zhao who finished second in Group B after a defeat to the world number 3 pairing of Fujii and Kakiiwa. The Japanese pair still failed to make the playoffs, instead the other semi final is between Ha and Kim of Korea against Rytter Juhl and Pedersen of Denmark, with the Danish pair topping Group B on games difference.
On Form Danes Look To Topple Chinese
Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen have been the form pair in the world for the past few months and after a straightforward progression into the last 4, they take on the world number 2 pairing of Ma and Xu. The Danes hold a 3-2 head to head advantage, winning their last 3 meetings over the Chinese pair. The other semi final sees Zhang and Zhao take on Shiota and Ikeda of Japan for only their second meeting, their previous matchup coming over 18 months ago. The world number 12 pairing had a negative games difference from Group B and will need play some of the best badminton of their life to compete with the world number 1 pairing.
The majority of the top ranked players and pairs have progressed into the playoffs needing just two games to ensure qualification, however some groups are doing down to the wire tomorrow in the final matches of the group stage.
Lee Chong Wei, Peter Gade, Lin Dan All Through
Few expected any resistance in Group A as Sho Sasaki and Simon Santoso were outclassed by the eventual qualifiers from the group in Peter Gade and Lee Chong Wei. Both players secured two victories and will play tomorrow for top spot within the group and the likelihood of the loser meeting Lin Dan in the semi final stage. The Group B winner takes on Kenichi Tago to ensure top spot, whilst the Japanese player needs a victory to have any chance of progressing. The other match in Group B sees Chen Long take on Taufik Hidayat, with the Chinese player also looking for a victory to ensure his place whilst the Indonesian cannot qualify for the last 4.
Sung Ji Hyun Remains Unbeaten
After her stunning win over Wang Yihan, Sung Ji Hyun ensured her place at the top of Group A with a two game victory over Juliane Schenk but still needs a victory over Tine Baun to ensure qualification, whilst the Dane must defeat Sung to have any chance of qualifying whilst Wang Yihan needs only to beat Juliane Schenk to reach the last 4. Group B is already settled with only the top spot on offer as Wang Xin and Saina Nehwal play in the final group match.
All To Play For In Doubles
Group A of the men’s doubles offers the simplest of equations, win and progress into the playoffs. All four pairs have won one and lost one going into the final round of matches tomorrow, with Cai and Fu against Ko and Yoo likely to be the standout match of tomorrow’s play with at least one of these pairs not playing this weekend. Chai and Guo take on Hashimoto and Hirata for the other place in the last 4. Group B is a different story, with Boe and Mogensen progressing as well as Lee and Jung ahead of their match tomorrow to determine top spot in the group.
Wang and Yu are safely into the last 4, even with a defeat tomorrow their points and games difference is too strong and have secured the top spot in Group A. Ha and Kim have to become the first non-Chinese pair to defeat Wang and Yu to have any chance of progressing into the last 4. Tian and Zhao are not mathematically through, but would need to lose convincingly to the Japanese pair of Fujii and Kakiiwa for the world number 3 pairing to have any chance of progressing.
Zhao Yunlei faces a similar situation in the mixed doubles, needing only to avoid a big defeat to Ahmad and Natsir to advance to the playoff stages. Xu and Ma need a victory against the British pair of Blair and White to ensure their place in the last 4, with the world number 22 pairing already out of contention. Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen have already won Group B, whilst either of the three pairings in their group capable of taking second place in the group. The likely winner between Ikeda and Shiota against Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam will look like the favourite to take the second place spot in the group.
Once again BWF is offering a live stream to select countries. You can find the various feeds here:
Day 1 Session 1
Day 1 Session 2
Day 2 Session 1
Day 2 Session 2
Day 3 Session 1
Day 3 Session 2
Semi Finals Session 1
Semi Finals Session 2
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.
China were guaranteed at least three golds on home soil but also secured a 4th title as Lin Dan claimed his first title in China in almost 18 months.
Lin Dan Too Strong For Chen Long
The current world and Olympic champion proved to be too strong for the higher seeded Chen Long after inflicting his 3rd defeat on the 2nd seed in their three meetings with a 21-17, 26-24 victory, with Lin Dan claiming the title on his 7th match point. Wang Yihan claimed the women’s singles title after Wang Xin’s retirement at 18-12 in the opening game of their encounter.
Boe And Mogensen Claim Only Non-Chinese Title
Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen claimed their first title since the Super Series Finals in January of this year with a two game victory over the 4th seeded Ko and Yoo of Korea winning 21-17, 21-15 in 42 minutes. Wang and Yu claimed their 5th straight title and their 58th victory of the year against the unseeded China pairing of Tang and Xia, winning 21-11, 21-10 in 40 minutes. The mixed doubles seen the top seeded Zhang and Zhao defeat Fischer and Nielsen for the second time in two weeks to claim the title in a two game victory, with the Chinese pair winning 21-11, 21-14 to ensure a fourth title for the China in Shanghai.
If China’s plan is to demoralize Lee Chong Wei before the Olympics, their plan is succeeding. After two losses in a month to Chen Long, the world number has suffered a double defeat to Lin Dan in back to back events but this time it was in front of a partisan crowd in Shanghai.
Chinese Dominance In Singles
Lin Dan’s 75-minute marathon victory over Lee Chong ensured two all-Chinese finals in the singles, with Chen Long defeating Simon Santoso in two games to ensure his place in the final without the loss of a game. The two finalists last met in exactly a year ago in this event at the final, with Lin Dan winning in three games and currently leads their overall head to head 2-0. The women’s singles final also sees the 2nd and 3rd seeds from Chinese face each other, with Wang Yihan taking on Wang Xin. Both players progressed after a tough three game match against an unseeded Chinese player, with Wang Xin saving two match points against Li Xuerui to reach the final, winning 23-21 in the deciding game.
Danish Delight In Doubles
Whilst China can claim half of the remaining finalists in the doubles events, Denmark can also claim two of their own in a resurgence of form for the European nation. Boe and Mogensen defeated the 2nd seeded Lee and Jung in one of the best results of the year for the former world number one pairing and will take on Ko and Yoo of Korea in the only final with no Chinese interests. The women’s doubles final sees the pairing of Wang and Yu going for win number 58 of the year against the unseeded pairing of Tang and Xia who received a walkover against Tian and Zhao in their semi final. Zhao Yunlei managed to reach one final with partner Zhang Nan in the mixed doubles and will take on the Danish pairing of Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen who have an excellent 4-1 head to head matchup against the world number 1 pairing, but the Chinese pairs only victory came in their most recent encounter, last week in Hong Kong.
With China having more than half the remaining players in the draw, the few non-Chinese players will stand out over the weekend but some big names will not be around for the semi final stages in Shanghai.
Gade Out To Santoso
Simon Santoso’s run of good form this run has claimed another seed, the 4th seeded Peter Gade. The Indonesian defeated Gade in a three game 73-minute match to book his place in the last 4 where he will face Chen Long. The 2nd seed defeated his countryman Chen Jin in a one-sided quarter final to book his place in the semi finals. The other semi final is a repeat from last week that sees Lee Chong Wei take on Lin Dan after both secured two game victories in their respective quarter final matches.
Clean Sweep In Women’s Singles
The question in the women’s singles is now which of the four Chinese players will take the title on home soil. Wang Yihan is the top seed remaining and takes on Liu Xin in the bottom half of the draw, with both players winning in three games. Wang Xin will play Li Xuerui in the other semi final, with Wang Xin the other player of the four remaining not to drop a game in the quarter finals.
Chinese Interest Looms Large In Doubles
The men’s doubles is without a Chinese pair going into the last 4, with Cai and Fu pulling out before their match with Kawamae and Sato to set up a semi final against Ko and Yoo of Korea. Lee and Jung are the highest seeds left in the draw and take on Boe and Mogensen after they defeated Kido and Setiawan 28-26 in a 73-minute thriller. Wang and Yu are one of three Chinese pairs left in the women’s doubles with the top seeds taking the 3rd seeded Fujii and Kakiiwa in the first of the semi finals. The other semi final sees the 2nd seeded Tian and Zhao take on the unseeded pair of Tang and Xia for a place in Sunday’s final. China are also guaranteed a finalist in the doubles with Zhang and Zhao taking on qualifiers Jiaming and Xia, who defeated the Danish pair of Laybourn and Rytter Juhl to reach the last 4. The other semi final sees the 3rd seeded Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen take on the Thai pairing of Anugritayawon and Voravichitchaikul for a place in Sunday’s final.