Top Seeds Tumble – Day 3: BCA Indonesia Open 2017

The wretched fortunes of Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi took another twist this morning as the top seeds and defending Women’s Doubles champions were felled in the first round of the BCA Indonesia Open 2017.

In the day’s opening fixture, the Japanese – whose best result on tour this season has been runners-up in Singapore – were knocked out of the Superseries Premier event by Huang Yaqiong and Yu Xiaohan, 21-7 22-20. The Chinese grabbed control of the match in the first game and, though the points were closer in the second, dug in at the critical moments to ensure they took the honours at Jakarta Convention Center.

Once again, Matsutomo and Takahashi were left pondering how their results have plummeted compared to a year ago when they were Olympic champions and winners of five Superseries events, including Superseries Premiers in England, Indonesia and Denmark. While three other Japanese pairs romped into the second round, they were at pains to explain what happened, conceding they made a lot of errors and that, right now, their best is simply not good enough.

On the adjoining court, a similar fate was unfolding for Men’s Doubles top seeds and one of Indonesia’s prime hopes for a title at this tournament, Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon. The star pairing, winners of three Superseries already this year, cut a picture of shell-shocked dejection as they trudged from the court while Denmark’s Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (featured image) celebrated victory, 21-16 21-16 in 34 minutes.

“We played one of our best matches ever. Kevin and Marcus are a world-class pair. We knew we would have to step up our game and control the match and also have good defence,” said Rasmussen, adding that shifting drift in the arena heightened their challenge.

“We wanted to defend our semi-final points from last year but we got a tough draw so we just focused on this match.”

The vanquished Sukamuljo and Gideon acknowledged “we were not on top of our game” and Sukamuljo revealed a recent shoulder injury hampered his shot-making.

“I got injured in training last week and every time I tried to smash I felt pain,” he told media.

Though buoyed by this result, Danish fans were stunned in the evening by the demise of No.7 seeds, Mad Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding, who seemed to have command of their match with a 19-15 lead in the decider, only to perish in the end. The outcome was even a surprise to winners Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov; the latter bluntly stating “We don’t know how we made that comeback”.

The Russians had pulled away at 12-12 to win the opener to which their rivals answered emphatically by leading the second game from the outset and yielding only ten points. The Danes continued in that authoritative vein in the decider, speeding ahead 7-0 and maintaining a good buffer at 17-12. However, Ivanov and Sozonov began to narrow the gap, with a 7-2 run levelling matters 19-19 before the Danes earned match point. It was not to be though as the next three points went Russia’s way, ushering them into the second round: 21-16 10-21 22-20 in 57 minutes.

Denmark’s disappointment was tempered by the progression of two of its other Men’s Doubles pairs (Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen and Mathias Christiansen/David Daugaard). China’s Liu Cheng/Zhang Nan, Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen, and Chai Biao/Hong Wei, all advanced though their compatriots, Lu Kai/Zheng Siwei were sidelined due to Lu being injured. Thailand’s Bodin Isara/Nipitphon Phuangphuapet and Kittinupong Kedren/Dechapol Puavaranukroh are also into the second round while hosts, Indonesia, have three pairs to fight their cause (Ricky Karanda Suwardi/Angga Pratama; Fajar Alfian/Muhammad Rian Ardianto; and Hendra Aprida Gunawan/Markis Kido). Another Indonesian son, Hendra Setiawan and his Malaysian partner, Tan Boon Heong, survived a dramatic test by Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe.

Apart from the top seeds’ departure, Women’s Doubles suffered no other upheaval with the remaining seeds advancing. China’s No.7 seeds (Huang Dongping/Li Yinhui) withdrew yesterday due to Li’s back injury. One of the category’s most exciting encounters today was the clash between Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia and Korea’s Chae Yoo Jung/Kim So Yeong. The local pair earned a hard-fought 15-21 25-23 21-14 win.

“We weren’t settled in the first game but we were determined not to lose. Thank God we won the second game and eventually the match. The drift made the shuttle difficult to control so we had to be patient and not rush to beat our opponents,” said Polii.

Click here for results

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.”

Click here for results

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

Tai Rakes in the Big Bucks

World No.1 Tai Tzu Ying has struck it rich while reeling in the major titles this season. The Chinese Taipei star has pocketed over US$116,000 so far this year – the highest by any player in 2017.

The earnings include prize money only for BWF tournaments and not continental championships.

Tai has been on a tournament-winning spree – claiming the Yonex All England, Celcom Axiata Malaysia Open, OUE Singapore Open and the Badminton Asia Championships. Her earnings are over twice that of World and Olympic champion Carolina Marin’s despite the Spaniard having finished runner-up in three Superseries besides the quarter-finals of the All England.

Other big earners in Women’s Singles are: Pusarla V Sindhu (India, US$39,075); Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand, US$28,350); Akane Yamaguchi (Japan, US$28,112); Sung Ji Hyun (Korea, US$27,187); Saina Nehwal (India, US$14,550); Chen Yufei (China, US$ 13,225) and Busanan Ongbamrungphan (Thailand, US$11,520).

Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei leads the big earners in Men’s Singles with US$67,800 thanks to his All England victory and runner-up finish at the Malaysia Open, while second spot is occupied by his close rival Lin Dan (China; US$63,120), who beat him in Malaysia. Lin won the Yonex Swiss Open and the Malaysia Open, besides making the semi-finals of the All England and the China Masters.

Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen (US$32,150), runner-up at the India Open; India’s Sai Praneeth (US$31,947), winner of the Singapore Open; Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen (US$30,075), India Open winner, and China’s Shi Yuqi (US$29,460), All England runner-up, follow Lin on the list of top earners.

Indonesia’s Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon won three straight Superseries this season – the All England, India Open and Malaysia Open. Consequently, their earnings are the highest in the category at US$62,687 each, followed by China’s Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen (US$22,725 each), Denmark’s Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen (US$19,174 each) and China’s Zheng Siwei and Fu Haifeng.

Maiden Superseries winners Sayaka Hirota and Yuki Fukushima top the earnings in Women’s Doubles. The Japanese pair, who won their first Superseries in Malaysia, took home US$32,890 each. Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl (US$32,140 each) and Korea’s Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee (US$30,350 each) also enjoyed a profitable season.

Mixed Doubles pair Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong have been on a roll this year, making the finals of all six tournaments, and winning four. Their performances have netted them US$64,042 each, while compatriots Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen, winners in Malaysia, saw their wallets swell by US$31,840 each. Thailand’s Dechapol Puavaranukroh/ Sapsiree Taerattanachai (US$15,845 each); China’s Zhang Nan/Li Yinhui (US$15,645 each) and Malaysia’s Chang Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying (US$14,110 each) too had reason to be happy.

Click here for the list of top earners