Indonesia Reignites Superseries!

Fans are revving up for the resumption of the MetLife BWF World Superseries tour next week with one of the calendar’s most popular – and definitely most noisy – tournaments: the BCA Indonesia Open 2017!

This season, however, the decibel level will be fever pitch, not at the accustomed Istora Senayan, but at the Jakarta Convention Center as the regular venue is undergoing refurbishment ahead of next year’s Asian Games.

Nonetheless, when badminton’s big guns reignite ther battle in the Indonesian capital, they will be zeroing in on the top eight spots to enhance their qualification chances for the the Dubai World Superseries Finals. The season’s eight highest-ranked singles players and doubles pairs will compete in the desert showdown for a share of the US$1million jackpot from 13-17 December this year.

In Men’s Singles, Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei) leads the standings after four out of 12 events, followed by Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen and Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia. Chinese superstar, Lin Dan; Ng Ka Long of Hong Kong; Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (Thailand); Wong Wing Ki (Hong Kong) and young Chinese ace, Shi Yuqi, round out the top contenders in that order.

Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying – riding a wave of unprecedented success – has been victorious in three of the four Superseries events held this season so far, to sit atop Women’s Singles in the Destination Dubai Rankings. Unbeaten since last November in Hong Kong, Tai has won five Superseries in succession; with only the India title eluding her as she did not compete in Delhi.

Close on her heels is Carolina Marin, with Spain’s Olympic gold medallist having been runner-up three weeks on a stretch in India, Malaysia and Singapore. The consistent Sung Ji Hyun of Korea is third overall, thanks to semi-final runs in every Superseries this season.

Akane Yamaguchi (Japan), Pusarla V Sindhu (India), Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand), Nozomi Okuhara (Japan) and Sun Yu (China) round out the elite eight.

Men’s Doubles supremos, Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo/Marcus Fernaldi Gideon (featured image), will enjoy deafening support when they take to home court next week. Having blazed to the top of the podium in three Superseries this season, the Indonesians head the standings followed by China’s twin towers, Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen, and Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda of Japan.

Another Indonesian pair – Angga Pratama and Ricky Karanda Suwardi – are in fourth place, with Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding (Denmark), Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong (Malaysia), Bodin Isara/Nipitphon Phuangphuapet (Thailand) ranking fifth to seventh respectively. Meanwhile, Denmark’s evergreen masters, Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen of Denmark, have moved into reckoning with their victory in the OUE Singapore Open 2017 to be in eighth position currently.

YONEX All England Open 2017 champions, Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee, are the leaders of the Women’s Doubles pack. Having starred in Korea’s recent Sudirman Cup success, they will be keen to continue their strong form in Jakarta. Their compatriots, Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan are in third place but the big headline in this category is that Japan has four pairs in the top seven of the Destination Dubai Rankings!

Celcom Axiata Malaysia Open champions Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota are in second place. These Japanese came of age rapidly this season, with a quarter-final in Birmingham, followed by a semi-final in Delhi, before winning in Kuching. Their team-mates, Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao, are in fifth while another Japanese pair, Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto – champions in their first Superseries final in India – are sixth. Japan’s Rio 2016 gold medallists, Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi are seventh, having lost their only Superseries final this season  (Singapore) to Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl who are fourth overall. China’s recently-paired Huang Yaqiong/Tang Jinhua are beginning to make inroads and sit in eighth at the moment.

Huang Yaqiong’s name has featured prominently in Mixed Doubles though, as she and partner, Lu Kai, have reached all four Superseries finals – capturing three of them. They are comfortably ahead of the competition in the Destination Dubai Rankings, with Chinese peers, Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen, who defeated them in the Kuching finale, currently in second place. The blossoming partnership of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai has been reaping handsome rewards and the Thai tandem are third in race for the desert classic.

England’s Adcock household – Chris and Gabby – are fourth with Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying in fifth. The remainder of the top eight is completed by Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen (Denmark); Olympic gold medallists, Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (Indonesia); and Korea’s upcoming duo, Choi Solgyu/Chae Yoo Jung – fresh from clinching the Sudirman Cup for their country.

The BCA Indonesia Open 2017 will be followed by the CROWN GROUP Australian Open 2017 in Sydney. These two events will bring the MetLife BWF World Superseries to its halfway mark and fans will get a better picture of how fortunes are shaping up. Exciting times and more surprises are certainly ahead with stops in Japan, Korea, Denmark, France, China and Hong Kong in the second half of the season.

Sindhu Leads ‘Last-Minute’ Dubai Qualifiers

India’s sizzling stroke-maker, Pusarla Venkata Sindhu, finished strongly in the last two qualifying events to surge into the prestigious season-ending Dubai World Superseries Finals for the first time.dubai-world-superseries-finals-logo

Another Dubai debutant and China’s latest ‘double doubles’ sensation, Chen Qingchen, earned a shot at two titles in the showdown at Hamdan Sports Complex.

Meanwhile, the amazing comeback of gritty Danes, Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen, will see them duelling in Dubai versus first-time finalists, Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda of Japan and Malaysia’s Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong.

These were among the compelling storylines last week as badminton’s elite fought hard to qualify for the 14-18 December tournament, featuring the best eight singles players and doubles pairs of this year’s MetLife BWF World Superseries tour. While Rio 2016 Olympic Games champions knew that, worst-case scenario, they would benefit from a wild-card invitation, some of their peers endured a nervous wait as qualification went down to the wire. It was not until the last of the 12 stops – the YONEX-SUNRISE Hong Kong Open – that some athletes secured their places in the lucrative event.

WOMEN’S SINGLES

5day_tai-tzu-yingQualification seemed a distant dream for PV Sindhu who was 16th in the Destination Dubai Rankings with just two events left. The 21-year-old’s victory at the THAIHOT China Open earned her 11000 points and revived her chances. However, competition for the last Women’s Singles spot was tight with Sindhu’s Indian compatriot Saina Nehwal, Japan’s Sayaka Sato and Minatsu Mitani, and Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk in the reckoning as players gathered in Hong Kong.

When the dust settled, it was near six-footer Sindhu who stood tall, clutching the last plane ticket to Dubai; her runner-up finish at Hong Kong Coliseum seeing her past the other hopefuls.

“I did not think too far ahead,” Sindhu said. “I knew that if I did well, I would qualify for Dubai. I’m looking forward to it.

“It’s an honour to play in Dubai, it’s an event that I have always wanted to qualify for. My form is good and hopefully it will continue in Dubai. I’m happy that I did well the last two weeks. I’m a bit upset I didn’t win Hong Kong, but Tai (Tzu Ying) played better than me.”

It was a bitter-sweet celebration for India though as former world No.1 Nehwal fell at the last hurdle in her comeback from knee surgery. Her quarter-final loss in Hong Kong saw her finish ninth overall. Injury also thwarted defending Dubai World Superseries Finals champion and Olympic bronze medallist, Nozomi Okuhara. The Japanese’s shoulder complaint forced her to skip Hong Kong and she slipped from 7th to 11th.

A star-studded field, including 2016 Olympic gold medallist Spain’s Carolina Marin, will vie for Women’s Singles supremacy. Other qualifiers are: 2014 Superseries Finals winner Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei), Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi; China’s Sun Yu and He Bingjiao; Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon who blazed to three Superseries titles in three weeks this year; and Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun.

MEN’S SINGLES

5day_ng-ka-long

Men’s Singles was also bitter-sweet for Denmark, with three players qualifying in the top eight, but with only two from each country eligible to qualify, 2014 World Superseries Finals runner-up Hans-Kristian Vittinghus misses out. Vittinghus was well in contention with two events to go – ahead of Olympic bronze medallist Viktor Axelsen – but appendicitis ruled him out of China and Hong Kong. Jan Jorgensen and Axelsen, who finished first and fifth in the rankings, will now represent Denmark.

“They’ve done a good job making things interesting for the players. You see a lot of players wanting to qualify,” said Jorgensen of the glamorous Dubai finale.

“It’s a lot of small things. All the events should be like that. You want to go to Dubai. Less matches, prestige, good prize money, nice surroundings, gala, everything. It’s very nice and that’s something we players like.”

Other Men’s Singles players contending for a share of the USD$1 million jackpot are: Rio 2016 goldmathias-boe-carsten-mogensen-v medallist and World champion, Chen Long (qualifying courtesy of an Olympic wild card); Chen’s Chinese team-mate Tian Houwei; Malaysia’s three-time Olympic silver medallist, Lee Chong Wei; Korea’s Son Wan Ho; Ng Ka Long who just won his first-ever Superseries title on home soil in Hong Kong; and Germany’s first Men’s Singles representative at the Dubai show-stopper, Marc Zwiebler.

MEN’S DOUBLES

In Men’s Doubles, Denmark’s Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen produced a magnificent last-ditch run. They wily veterans reached three straight Superseries finals to squeeze into the eighth qualifying position, overtaking their team-mates Anders Rasmussen/Kim Astrup. This was an astounding achievement considering Mogensen survived a brain aneurysm in February. Japan’s Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda’s maiden Superseries crown in Hong Kong put them atop the rankings, while Rio gold medallists China’s Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan will rely on a wild card to compete.

WOMEN’S DOUBLES

In Women’s Doubles, Olympic champions, Japan’s Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi lead the field, with Olympic silver medallists Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl of Denmark finishing strongly, taking their second Superseries title of 2016 in Hong Kong. Japan had three pairs in the top eight so it was heartbreak for Shizuka Matsuo and Mami Naito who missed qualifying, opening the door for Chinese teenagers, Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan, to debut in Dubai.

denmark-open-2016-day-6-misaki-matsutomo-ayaka-takahashi-of-japan

MIXED DOUBLES

Mixed Doubles will see 2015 Dubai champions and England’s husband-and-wife duo, Chris and Gabby Adcock, defending their title versus red-hot Olympic gold medallists, Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir. The Indonesians are in blistering form, with successive Superseries wins in China and Hong Kong. China’s exciting ‘new kids’ Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen will also be in the mix.

5day_Tontowi Ahmad & Liliyana Natsir

Tickets for the Dubai World Superseries Finals are on sale at www.ticketmaster.ae. Prices start from AED25, with fans under 18 years entering for free when accompanied by an adult with a ticket.

*****

Destination Dubai Rankings 2016 

Qualifiers

(taking into account Olympic Wild Cards and Maximum 2 Qualifiers per Member Association per Category)

ms-qualifiers

ws-qualifiers

md-qualifiers

wd-qualifiers

xd-qualifiers

Athletes, Public Embrace Anti-Doping Campaign

BWF’s joint anti-doping initiative with the Japan Anti-Doping Agency (JADA) has been well received by players, entourage and fans at the ongoing Yonex Open Japan 2016.

The multi-level engagement, blending BWF’s Integrity campaign – ‘i am badminton’ – and JADA’s ‘Play True’ initiative, and supported by Nippon Badminton Association, consisted of a quiz andChris Adcock social-media activity for players and entourage on Monday and Tuesday, and outreach for the public yesterday and today. The Yonex Open Japan, the seventh event in the MetLife BWF World Superseries circuit, began on Monday and ends with the finals on Sunday.

Former Japan international and current BWF Athletes’ Commission member Shintaro Ikeda assisted JADA staff at the booth in the training hall, explaining concepts to players and inviting them to participate in the quiz and sign the ‘Play True’ flag. Among the players who took part were Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara, Akane Yamaguchi, Ayaka Takahashi, Minatsu Mitani, Denmark’s Anders Skaarup Rasmussen, Malaysia’s Iskander Zulkarnain, Korea’s Lee Dong Keun, Ko Sung Hyun, Thailand’s Bodin Issara, Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto and England’s Chris Adcock. Brochures and wrist bands were given to participants.

Players participated in a quiz to test their awareness of anti-doping procedures. Prepared in a fun format with multiple-choice questions, the top scores and times taken were displayed on a board. Chris Adcock won the quiz, getting all ten answers right.

“It’s a good initiative. Obviously, we all want clean sport,” said Adcock. “It’s useful they have come up with something like this.”

Players were also invited to take photos with ‘i am badminton’ x ‘Play True’ selfie boards and post them on their social media accounts. Twitter posts by Japanese star Ayaka Takahashi, Ikeda and Adcock attracted a number of likes and re-tweets.Indian players support the anti-doping campaign

London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Mizuki Fujii was the face of the campaign yesterday at the spectator booth which was strategically placed at an aisle near the stands. Several fans, and even parents of players, stopped by to chat with Fujii and JADA staff. To attract young fans, a JADA Manga animation film highlighting anti-doping messages played on a laptop. Another screen showed images of the stars at the athletes’ booth.

“It was a great opportunity for me to acknowledge the importance of sharing the message of sport integrity and anti-doping to the public,” said Fujii.

“Not only athletes, but also as supporters of badminton, I hope we, the badminton community, can disseminate ‘clean sport’ universally.”

Her former partner, Reika Kakiiwa, was at the booth today, attracting a long queue of spectators who posed for selfies and received wristbands, stickers and brochures in return.Korean players