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.

Korea Head in With Young Blood – TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017

Three-time champions Korea head in to the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017 in Gold Coast dependent on a mostly emerging set of players.

Korea, the last non-Chinese team to win the Sudirman Cup, will hope their young and relatively untested players deliver at the World Mixed Team Championships that will be held from 21 to 28 May.

The team will be led by Son Wan Ho (Men’s Singles) and Sung Ji Hyun (Women’s Singles), but quite a few prominent names are missing. World No.3 in Mixed Doubles, Ko Sung Hyun, hasn’t played this year and his absence is perhaps not surprising. However, accomplished doubles stars Yoo Yeon Seong, Kim Gi Jung and Shin Seung Chan haven’t been included. The other absentees are Women’s Doubles duo Yoo Hae Won and Kim Hye Rin, runners-up at the Badminton Asia Championships recently.

While the women players are relatively experienced, the male members of the squad include teenagers Kim Won Ho (17), Park Kyung Hoon (19) and Seo Seung Jae (19; featured image).

Korea are in sub-group 1B with Chinese Taipei and Russia. The 12 teams of Group 1 will contest the title, while the two other groups (Group 2 and Group 3 with eight and seven teams respectively) will fight for placings. Chinese Taipei, led by Chou Tien Chen (Men’s Singles) and Tai Tzu Ying (Women’s Doubles), will fancy their chances of emerging on top of the sub-group 1B.

Defending champions China, meanwhile, can boast of a strong squad spearheaded by veterans Lin Dan and Chen Long in Men’s Singles and backed by doubles players like Fu Haifeng, Zhang Nan, Li Junhui, Liu Yuchen and Zheng Siwei. The women doubles too is an array of top stars – Bao Yixin, Tang Jinhua, Chen Qingchen, Huang Yaqiong, Huang Dongping and Jia Yifan. The choice in Women’s Singles will be between Sun Yu, He Bingjiao and World Junior champion Chen Yufei.

China will be wary of group-mates Thailand and Hong Kong in sub-group 1A.

Last edition runners-up Japan are sub-group 1C with Malaysia and Germany. The Japanese have some accomplished women players, but the Men’s Singles could be of concern as their spearhead is Kenta Nishimoto (No.61). The 20-year-old Yu Igarashi is the only other Men’s Singles player included. The Japanese though can call upon the services of Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi in Women’s Singles and an equally impressive cast in Women’s Doubles (Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi and Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonetomo). Mixed Doubles responsibilities will be shouldered by Kenta Kazuno/Ayane Kurihara and the fast-improving Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino.

Malaysia were dealt a blow with Mixed Doubles Olympic silver medallist Goh Liu Ying forced to skip the event due to injury trouble. Malaysia will field some fresh faces with players like Lee Zii Jia and Cheah Yee See making their foray at this level of competition.

Denmark, Indonesia and India are in sub-group 1D. European Championships Men’s Singles runner-up Anders Antonsen has been included in the squad alongside most of the players who won the Thomas Cup for Denmark.

Indonesia have been weakened by the non-availability of Rio Olympic gold medallist Liliyana Natsir and the injury derailment of Nitya Krishinda Maheswari. Of particular concern to them will be the Women’s Singles, with emerging players like Gregoria Mariska and Dinar Dyah Ayustine having to shoulder the responsibility.

Newly-crowned OUE Singapore Open champion Sai Praneeth is missing from the Indian line-up, but they have a strong Men’s Singles squad comprising of Ajay Jayaram, HS Prannoy and Kidambi Srikanth. The Indians, given their strength in singles, will sniff a chance against Indonesia in hoping to qualify for the knock-out stage.

For full team lists, click here.