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.

China, Japan to Face Off – Day 6 (Session 1): TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017

Last edition finalists China and Japan booked a semi-final meeting at the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017 with one-sided victories today in Gold Coast.

There were no surprises in either quarter-final – Japan versus Malaysia and China versus India – although India’s scratch Mixed Doubles combination Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa did create some flutters against World No.2 duo Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong in the opening match before China took the tie 3-0. A short while later, Japan wrapped up their quarter-final against Malaysia 3-1.

Rankireddy, perhaps the find of the tournament, had the Chinese under pressure with his monster smashes, giving Ponnappa the openings she needed to put away the returns that came her way. Lu and Huang struggled to contain the rampant Indians, who played with great assurance and touch at the front court to deny their opponents any opportunities.

Lu and Huang, veterans of many a battle, seized the initiative early in the second and held their lead. The Indians went ahead briefly in the third but Lu and Huang had started to anticipate the Indians’ lines of attack and reeled in quick points.  Rankireddy and Ponnappa faltered on the delicate shots at net and the Chinese eventually came away winners at 16-21 21-13 21-16.

“We had a good chance, we had the confidence that we could pull it off,” said Ponnappa. “They’re very experienced, while we’re just starting off as a pair. Satwik has to get used to pressure situations. It’s kind of fun playing with him, because he’s strong and his game style complements mine. I’ve started moving into the net. In the past I’ve always run back and never taken charge. Having a promising player like Satwik to partner with is a huge confidence booster.”

World champion Chen Long had a 4-0 career record going into his Men’s Singles match-up with Kidambi Srikanth and nothing suggested that the Indian would get his first win, for the Chinese was at his fluid, powerful best.

Kidambi did little wrong; he varied the pace, worked the shuttle around and fired sharp winners through the narrow openings he crafted. The Indian stayed close but couldn’t quite wriggle free, for the quick-moving Chinese was invariably at the end of the flicks and half-smashes that Kidambi created. The frustration started to show in the Indian’s game and it was 2-0 for China in 48 minutes: 21-16 21-17.

“My opponent was very good, and he strongly challenged me in the second game,” said Chen. “We have to be our best tomorrow. The Japanese Men’s Singles players are quite young and have already got the opportunity to play at this level, so we have to be cautious. More than the pressure from outside, I will be putting pressure on myself to perform well.”

India’s Men’s Doubles pair were just not up to the level required to trouble Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan. Rankireddy returned with Chirag Shetty and the duo were blown off court by the Olympic champions, 21-9 21-11, in just 29 minutes.

Japan’s victory over Malaysia followed the same pattern as in their sub-group 1C tie on Wednesday. For Malaysia, everything hinged on their Men’s Doubles pair of Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong getting past Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda (featured image), given Japan’s superior Women’s Singles and Women’s Doubles. Goh and Tan hit their stride mid-match against Sonoda and Kamura, but the Japanese kept up their high-intensity style, and the energy-sapping rallies started to tell on the Malaysians in the third as they fell apart in the hour-long battle: 21-17 16-21 21-11.

Soniia Cheah replaced Goh Jin Wei in Women’s Singles for Malaysia while Japan fielded Nozomi Okuhara. It was too vast a gulf for Cheah to cover, with the nimble Okuhara controlling the match from start to finish: 21-11 21-9.

Lee Chong Wei, as expected, delivered Men’s Singles for Malaysia over Kenta Nishimoto (21-15 21-13), leaving the burden of salvaging the nation’s hopes on Vivian Hoo and Woon Khe Wei. The Malaysian Women’s Doubles duo had taken only one game off Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi in nine previous matches. The Japanese duly made it ten wins in ten matches with a 21-7 21-14 result.

“We played Malaysia in the group stage as well, we weren’t sure who we would face today,” said Takahashi. “After we won the Men’s Doubles, we went in feeling good and there wasn’t any pressure.

“We lost the Sudirman Cup final to China two years ago. All the Chinese players are good. Our role is that of challengers. We always enjoy playing China and we have to prepare our best. They have won the Sudirman Cup six times in a row and we appreciate the opportunity to fight against them. It’s a big challenge in front of us.”

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Danes Dig Deep – Day 4 (Session 2): TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017

As has so often been the case, Denmark’s tried and tested Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles warriors saw their country through perilous waters tonight to the safe harbour of the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017 quarter-finals.

For the second successive night, sub-group 1D – dubbed the ‘group of death’ – provided high drama inside the Gold Coast Sports & Leisure Centre as the No.2 seeds saw their progression in the event in danger after losses in Mixed Doubles and Men’s Singles. That gave Indonesia a 2-0 advantage in a tie they needed win by at least 4-1 to have chance of ousting either Denmark or India. Knowing they had to win two of the five games, Denmark’s veterans Mathias Boe (featured image) and Carsten Mogensen produced an incredible rear-guard fight to beat Men’s Doubles boy wonders, Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, and then left it up to their Women’s Doubles peers, Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl, to do the rest.

It mattered not that Indonesia won the tie 3-2 – the result was enough, not only to see Denmark into the last eight, but also to ensure they topped the group and secured one of the seeded places in the knockout draw, thus avoiding the likes of China, Japan and Chinese Taipei.

They are pitted against Thailand while defending champions, China, face India. The other battles for semi-final places will feature group-stage rematches as Japan and Malaysia were drawn against each other as were Chinese Taipei and Korea.

“I think we have a good chance of winning the match against Thailand but, as you can see from today, all matches are going to be close. Most teams will have to fight for every match we play. We cannot say anything for certain,” noted Denmark’s team manager, Jens Meibom.

Malaysia’s Technical Director Morten Frost was equally cautious about any predictions after his team were drawn against Japan – to whom they lost 2-3 earlier in the last group-stage encounters – and also in China’s half of the draw.

“Japan is one of the toughest teams. We will have to see if we can reverse the result,” he noted.

Japan’s Head Coach Park Joo Bong agreed the rematch would be testing but surmised the “bottom half (of the draw) is also strong” and that the teams “are fairly even”. His Chinese Taipei counterpart, Chang Jeng Shyuang, would have preferred to face another team but resigned himself to having to beat Korea again. It is a clash which Korean coach Ji Hyun Marr assessed as “50-50”.

Meanwhile, in the evening’s epic battle, the tide seemed to be turning Indonesia’s way as Gideon and Sukamuljo grabbed two match points versus the evergreen Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen. Somehow, the experienced Danes coolly withstood their rivals – saving a third match before forcing a decider which went to the wire; the European champions levelling the scores from 10-15 down and then outlasting the young guns in a tense shoot-out that had fans riveted to the action.

Boe and Mogensen displayed nerves of steel as they lost a match point, then saved a match point and duelled with their opponents around the net for the last two vital points; Boe smashing to bring them a second match point and Gideon succumbing with a backhand into the net to seal the amazing Danish comeback: 16-21 24-22 23-21.

Indonesia’s diminutive Women’s Singles player, Fitriani Fitriani, then wrested the tie for her nation, beating Mia Blichfeldt, 24-22 15-21 14-21. Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto had won Mixed Doubles against Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen (21-12 21-13) while Anthony Ginting capitalised on Viktor Axelsen’s meltdown to snatch Men’s Singles (13-21 21-17 21-14). However, having perished 1-4 to India yesterday, today’s heroics were not enough to save Indonesia as Pedersen and Rytter Juhl conquered Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu, 21-18 13-21 21-13.

“We were under pressure after Viktor lost. It was a very tough group and I am very happy we qualified as No.1,” said a relieved Meibom.

On the adjoining court, Japan’s leading lights guided them past Malaysia in sub-group 1C with wins in Men’s Doubles (Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda), Women’s Singles (Akane Yamaguchi) and Women’s Doubles (Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi). Men’s Singles star, Lee Chong Wei and Mixed Doubles pair, Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing, were the Malaysian successes.

In sub-group 2B, USA defeated Austria, 3-2, with Jamie Subandhi triumphing in Women’s Singles and Mixed Doubles. Vietnam cemented their place atop sub-group 2A, trouncing Scotland 4-1; Do Tuan Duc starring in Mixed Doubles and Men’s Doubles.

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Easy for Malaysia, Scotland – Day 3 (Session 1): TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017

One-sided contests dominated today’s opening session at the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017, with Malaysia, Vietnam, Scotland and Macau emerging easy winners.

Canada were expected to trouble Vietnam in sub-group 2A, but the Canadians chose to rest their strongest players. Michelle Li and Rachel Honderich sat out and Vietnam were in no danger against the Canadians, whitewashing them 5-0 without dropping a game.

Do Tuan Duc/Pham Nhu Thao started the rout, beating Nyl Yakura/Brittney Tam in Mixed Doubles 21-13 21-18 in 25 minutes. Pham returned for the last match, the Women’s Doubles with Vu Thi Trang, and they shut out Michelle Tong/Josephine Wu 21-9 21-13 to complete the 5-0 result, with none of the matches going beyond 33 minutes.

The other sub-group 2A tie, featuring Scotland and New Zealand, went Scotland’s way, 4-1. Martin Campbell and Patrick MacHugh (featured image) provided the breakthrough at the beginning, holding off a strong challenge from Kevin Dennerly-Minturn/Oliver Leydon-Davis to win 19-21 21-10 21-15.

Kirsty Gilmour made it 2-0 with a 21-minute rout of Gaea Galvez, 21-5 21-19 in Women’s Singles before Keiran Merrilees stopped Oscar Guo 21-15 21-18 to ensure victory for Scotland.

“We wanted to really win today after losing to Canada,” said Merrilees, who had suffered food poisoning a day before his opening match yesterday. “We had to make changes in our team in Women’s Doubles, make it stronger, and that helped a lot. I didn’t play well, it was enough to complete the match, but I have to play better tomorrow. I wasn’t really concentrating. I wasn’t going a 100 percent; hopefully I can play better. If we beat Vietnam we still can win the group, so that’s the aim, but we know it’s going to be hard. We were surprised with Canada, I don’t really know (why they didn’t field their best players). When we saw that we knew we had a good chance at getting to No.1 in the group.”

Gilmour returned for her Women’s Doubles with Julie MacPherson and the pair needed just 25 minutes to beat Sally Fu/Danielle Tahuri.

“This (venue) is brilliant, I’m taking in the surroundings and this environment because of course we are going to be back here in a year for the Commonwealth Games,” said Gilmour. “It’s something I know that is on the minds of all the Commonwealth countries so I’m trying to drink it all in and learn as much as I possibly can.”

New Zealand earned a consolation win through Oliver Leydon-Davis/Susannah Leydon-Davis in Mixed Doubles, beating Adam Hall/Eleanor O’Donnell 21-17 12-21 21-13.

Scotland and Canada are level with a win each from two matches, while Vietnam leads the group with two wins. Scotland will hope for an upset over Vietnam to nurse hopes of emerging top of the group.

In sub-group 1C, Germany exited the tournament as they crashed to their second straight defeat. Malaysia wrapped up the tie 5-0 without dropping a game; none of the matches went over 35 minutes.

Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing gave Malaysia the lead in Mixed Doubles, beating Mark Lamsfuss/Isabel Herttrich 21-17 21-13.

Spearhead Lee Chong Wei took 34 minutes to get past Fabian Roth (21-12 21-11) in his Men’s Singles. Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong were extended by Jones Ralfy Jansen/Josche Zurwonne in the second game but came away victors at 21-16 21-19 in their Men’s Doubles.

Goh Jin Wei (Women’s Singles) and Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei (Women’s Doubles) did not let up the pressure and duly completed the rout.

Macau Blank New Caledonia

Macau China chalked up their second straight win of sub-group 3A beating New Caledonia 5-0.

New Caledonia started combatively, with Ronan Ho-Yagues/Morgan Paitio competing on level terms with Che Pui Ngai/Lam Hou Him in their opening Men’s Doubles.

But once the Macau pair took the third game and the match, the rest of the New Caledonian challenge fell apart. Ng Weng Chi made it 2-0 in Women’s Singles.  Jeremy LeMaitre put up some resistance against Pui Pang Fong in their Men’s Singles encounter, which was won by Macau 21-9 24-22.

With two wins, Macau emerged on top of sub-group 3A.

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Top Guns Confirm Places

The stage is set for some high-profile clashes at the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 in Glasgow with most of the top qualifiers confirming their entries.

In Men’s Singles, gladiatorial contests between the likes of Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia; featured image), China’s Lin Dan and Chen Long, and Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen and Jan O Jorgensen are on the cards as the top qualifiers in Phase 1 of the eligibility list have accepted their invitations.

Among the other top Men’s Singles qualifiers are Son Wan Ho (Korea); Shi Yuqi and Tian Houwei (China); Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei); Ng Ka Long, Wong Wing Ki and Hu Yun (Hong Kong), and Ajay Jayaram, Kidambi Srikanth and Sai Praneeth (India).

Phase 1 having concluded on Thursday 11 April, invitations have been sent to other eligible players under Phase 2 that will conclude on Thursday 25 April. Among the beneficiaries in the Phase 2 invitation list is Denmark’s Anders Antonsen. If his invitation is accepted by Badminton Denmark, the European Championships runner-up would join his compatriots Axelsen, Jorgensen and Hans-Kristian Vittinghus in the competition. A member association can field four players if they are within the top 8 of the rankings on the eligibility date in Phase 1, or if places open up due to other eligible players declining their invitations in Phase 2. An MA cannot exceed four entries in any category.

A few eligible players in all categories have declined their invitations mainly due to the Southeast Asian Games (in Kuala Lumpur) and the Summer Universiade (in Taipei) which coincide with the World Championships.

In Men’s Singles, some of the prominent names who have declined invitations are Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu Wei and Hsu Jen Hao; Korea’s Lee Hyun Il; Thailand’s Khosit Phetpradab; Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh and Singapore’s Derek Wong.

Women’s Singles

World No.1 Tai Tzu Ying, who has been on a run of six straight title victories, will not be contesting the World Championships as she has declined the invitation to compete in the Summer Universiade in her homeland.

Nevertheless, Women’s Singles boasts a very competitive category, with the likes of two-time champion Carolina Marin (Spain); India’s Pusarla V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal; Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun; Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon; Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi, Nozomi Okuhara and Aya Ohori; and China’s Sun Yu, He Bingjiao and Chen Yufei accepting their invitations.

Men’s Doubles

In-form pair Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (Indonesia) lead a star cast in Men’s Doubles. Indonesia have confirmed their three pairs – Angga Pratama/Ricky Karanda Suwardi and Muhammad Rian Ardianto/Fajar Alfian being the other two.

Similarly, three Chinese, Danish and Japanese pairs each have confirmed their participation.

Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov/Ivan Sozonov; Chinese Taipei’s Yang Po Han/Lu Ching Yao; Olympic bronze medallists Chris Langridge/Marcus Ellis and Hong Kong’s Or Chin Chung/Tang Chun Man are all headed to Glasgow as well.

Women’s Doubles

Olympic champions Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi lead a strong Japanese charge that includes Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao and Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto.

China too will be represented by three pairs: Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan, Luo Ying/Luo Yu and Li Yinhui/Huang Dongping.

Indonesia’s fourth-ranked pair Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari have received an invitation for Phase 2. If they accept, they will accompany compatriots Mahadewi Istirani Ni Ketut/Anggia Shitta Awanda and Rosyita Eka Putri Sari/Della Destiara Haris.

Denmark’s two pairs have accepted: Olympic silver medallists Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Sara Thygesen/Maiken Fruergaard, while fellow Europeans, Bulgaria, will field Stoeva sisters Gabriela and Stefani.

Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei and Lim Yin Loo/Yap Cheng Wen will be the two pairs doing duty for Malaysia, while Australia can look to Gronya Somerville/Setyana Mapasa.

Mixed Doubles

Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong have been in blazing form this year, and the duo are part of a strong Chinese line-up that includes Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen and Zhang Nan/Li Yinhui.

Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na, who have been out of action this year, have confirmed their entry, as have Olympic gold medallists Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (Indonesia) and Denmark’s Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen.

Indonesia have two more pairs who will do battle in Glasgow: Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto and Ronald Ronald/Melati Daeva Oktavianti.

England’s Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock will be buoyed by their recent victory at the European Championships as they seek a first World title.

Also in the running are Malaysia’s top two pairs Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying and Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing; Hong Kong’s Lee Chun Hei/Chau Hoi Wah; Japan’s Kenta Kazuno/Ayane Kurihara and Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino; India’s Pranaav Jerry Chopra/Sikki Reddy; Polish veterans Robert Mateusiak/Nadiezda Zieba; and Russia’s Evgenij Dremin/Evgenia Dimova.

Click here for full lists:

Men’s Singles

Women’s Singles

Men’s Doubles

Women’s Doubles

Mixed Doubles