HONG KONG OPEN 2009 Preview – Hong-ry for more

With his convincing performance at the French Open, Lin Dan is the clear favourite to be victorious in Hong Kong as well.  But some stiff competition will try to prevent […]

With his convincing performance at the French Open, Lin Dan is the clear favourite to be victorious in Hong Kong as well.  But some stiff competition will try to prevent Dan from winning in the former British colony for a fifth time.  Titleholder Wang Chen has withdrawn, leaving Yip Pui Yin and Zhou Mi to attempt to keep the women’s crown on the island.  Last year’s double title-winner Zhang Yawen is back in Hong Kong in an attempt to one of those titles, with a new women’s doubles partner, Tian Qing.  In the men’s doubles, Korean pair Jung Jae Sung / Lee Yong Dae hope to be triumphant once again, but it won’t be the first time if Guo Zhendong / Xu Chen can oust them in the first round.

By Elm Vandevorst, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: BadmintonPhoto

Lin Dan’s record at the is impressive, even by his standards.  Already having claimed four titles here, he’s back for another one after his defeat in last year’s final against Chen Jin.  Lin must feel confident after he defeated his compatriot in the semis of the French Open last week the draw revealed a dazzling field with some exciting first round contests.  The French Open champion himself has to compete against Sony Dwi Kuncoro while Chen faces the dangerous Hu Yun (pictured) on the latter’s home court.  But also the Chen Long-Park Sung Hwan and Nguyen Tien Minh-Andre Tedjono Kurniawan duels are more than promising.

Another all-Wang women’s singles final, just like in France, is a possibility.  Even without titleholder Wang Chen, there is top-seeded Wang Lin, third-seeded Wang Yihan and two other Wangs in the draw.  Another home player, though, Zhou Mi, hopes to go all the way after her semi-final loss last year.   She’s likely to meet Pi Hongyan in the quarter-finals.  Furthermore Junior World Cup silver medallist Porntip Buranaprasertuk will meet world champion Lu Lan.  In a clash between generations 19-year-old Saina Nehwal is up against the 32-year-old veteran Yao Jie.

Zhang Yawen (pictured), who has played with a few different partners recently, has been put together with Tian Qing in an attempt to claim another women’s doubles title for China.   They can expect fierce completion from some compatriots, including third seeds Du Jing / Yu Yang who won the China Masters in September.  A repeat of this year’s Indonesian Super Series final might be the case in Hong Kong as well.  Second seeds Cheng Shu / Zhao Yunlei will be very eager to take revenge for their defeat against top-seeded Malaysian pair Chin Eei Hui / Wong Pei Tty.

Another Malaysian duo, Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong, had talked of withdrawing after reaching 3 finals in their last four tournaments.  If they stay with it, they will be gunning for their fifth title of the year; however there are plenty of top class pairs taking part in this year’s edition.  Korean titleholders Jung Jae Sung / Lee Yong Dae (pictured below) are back in action for the first time since their runner-up performance in Hyderabad.  Back, too, are Indonesians Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan who tasted victory in 2006 and 2007.  What’s more, World Champions Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng, who won in 2005, decided to throw their hats in the ring.  In addition to all that, a fascinating first round encounter between Gunawan/Chandra and Ashan/Septano is on the menu.  These Indonesian twosomes played the final at the Philippine Open, but one of them is bound to leave Hong Kong at a very early stage.

Zheng Bo and Ma Jin are not unstoppable, but with successes at the Swiss, Singapore and Indonesia Super Series in mind, they are a main contender to take another title back home.  Nevertheless the Chinese top pair went down at the Japan Open in September in their first match.  Their opponents at that time, Hendra Gunawan/ Vita Marissa, are also contenders in Hong Kong and are probably up for a quarter-final against first seeded Koreans Lee Yong Dae / Lee Hyo Jung.  Moreover Indonesia has some other prospects like Nova Widianto/Liliyana Natsir and Devin Fitriawan/Lita Nurlita.  All pairs will be hoping to capitalize on the absence of World Champions Laybourn / Rytter Juhl.

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About Elm Vandevorst