SINGAPORE OPEN 2011 Preview – Longing for London

This year’s Singapore Open is the first Super Series event to take place during the qualifying period for the London Olympics. Some will be able to take a big step […]

This year’s is the first Super Series event to take place during the qualifying period for the London Olympics. Some will be able to take a big step towards their Olympic dream at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. But with the impressive entry list in mind, surprises are bound to happen.

By Elm Vandevorst, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

Men’s Singles

From the current top 20 only two players, Lee Chong Wei and Yu Hun, will be absent at Singapore. Which results in some first round fixtures worthy of being any tournament’s final. For example Nguyen Tien Minh from Vietnam who will meet Simon Santoso. Or the match between defending champion Sony Dwi Kuncoro who has to defeat Bao Chunlai, victorious in 2009, just to make it to the second round. Their last meeting goes back to this year’s All England where the Chinese crushed his adversary 21-10 21-6.

The title favourite however must be Lin Dan, current World n° 3, who’s already looking forward to the Singapore Open.

It’s for sure a tournament I want to win and add to my collection of trophies. Singapore is also somewhere I’d like to visit, the food is good, people are friendly and the place is very clean,” Lin explained on the tournament’s website.

Also Taufik Hidayat will be keen to win his third title after previous wins in 2001 and 2005.

With these, and other, tough Asian competitors, Europe’s main contenders must be Peter Gade, man in form Rajiv Ouseph and German Marc Zwiebler. Depending on the results of the qualification rounds, shuttlers such as Dicky Palyama or Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk can enter the first round.

First round men’s singles matches of note:

Boonsak Ponsana [5] (THA) vs Du Pengyu (CHN)
Nguyen Tien Minh [6] (VIE) vs Simon Santoso (INA)
Bao Chunlai [7] (CHN) vs Sony Dwi Kuncoro (INA – photo)
Kenichi Tago (JPN) vs Jan Jorgensen (DEN)

Women’s Doubles

With all these top international shuttlers touching down on Singapore’s shores to compete, also the home country has some aces up their sleeve. Top of their bill are defending champions Shinta Mulia Sari and Yao Lei.  As an unseeded pair in the 2010 edition, they defeated Kim Min Jung / Lee Hyo Jung in the final. This year they’ll start against Mariana Agathangelou and Heather Olver of England, and are likely to meet eighth seeds Valeri Sorokina / Nina Vislova in the second round.

If the Singapore twosome should prove unable to repeat their stunt, it seems the Japanese women hold all the aces with the top and second seeded duos Miyuki Maeda / Satoko Suetsuna (photo) and Mizuki Fujii / Reika Kakiiwa.  Malaysia Grand Prix Gold champions Maeda/Suetsuna will have a tricky opening match up against Ma Jin and Pan Pan.  Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei could be their second round opponents, at least if they don’t fall at the first Chinese hurdle.

First round women’s doubles matches of note:

Miyuki Maeda / Satoko Suetsuna [1] (JPN) vs Ma Jin / Pan Pan (CHN)
Greysia Polii / Meiliana Jauhari [3] (INA) vs Cheng Shu / Bao Yixin (CHN)
Ha Jung Eun / Kim Min Jung [6] (KOR) vs. Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN)
Kunchala Voravichitchaikul / Duang Anong Aroonkesorn [7] (THA) vs Vita Marissa / Melati Nadya (INA)

Mixed Doubles

Two players can add another Singapore Open title to their record. The first is Indonesian Nova Widianto, who is coming back to Singapore to hold the trophy for the fourth time, after his victories in 2004, 2006, and 2008. Widianto won those three titles, as well as two World Championships, alongside Lilyana Natsir.  This year however he is accompanied by Vita Marissa, with whom he won the Asian Championships in 2003. Seventh seeds Robert Mateusiak and Nadiezda Zieba from Poland will be their first, big test.

On the other hand, Danes Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl (photo) share the same dream. The reigning champions defeated Widianto (and Natsir) in the 2010 final without further ado 21-12, 21-15. Their 2011 adventure begins with a match against Japan’s Shoji Sato and Shizuka Matsuo. A quarter-final against fellow citizens Fischer Nielsen/Pedersen is an option, if the latter can survive a tricky test against Chinese Taipei.

First round mixed doubles matches of note:

Robert Mateusiak / Nadiezda Zieba [7] (POL) vs. Nova Widianto / Vita Marissa (INA)
Michael Fuchs / Birgit Michels (GER) vs. Lee Yong Dae / Ha Jung Eun (KOR)
Tao Jiaming / Tian Qing [6] (CHN) vs. Fran Kurniawan / Pia Zebediah Bernadet (INA)
Songphon Anugritayawon / Kunchala Voravichitchaikul [8] (THA) vs He Hanbin / Yu Yang (CHN)
Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen [3] (DEN) vs. Chen Hung Ling / Cheng Wen Hsing (TPE)

Women’s Singles

Which Wang will win? With Wangs Yihan, Wang Xin (photo) and Shixian all in competition, it will be difficult for their challengers to prevent an All-Chinese final. One of them might be reigning champion Saina Nehwal, who overcame Wang Xin at the Sudirman Cup 21-15, 21-11. However, Saina also lost her match against Ratchanok Intanon in Qingdao.  If the promising Thai can go all the way to the final, she wouldn’t be the first 16-year-old to do it, as Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying did not fall until the last hurdle in 2010.  Ratchanok’s compatriot Porntip Buranaprasertsuk is also a strong threat, having won the India Open on the first of May, where she was too strong for Bae Youn Joo, who has just entered the world’s top five for the first time.

Also Juliane Schenk has to be considered as a title contender. Her most recent victories at the same Sudirman cup, beating Eriko Hirose and Wang Shixian, must have given her a confidence boost. Which has to count as well for Tine Baun. The Danish number one won all four matches against her respective opponents.

First round women’s singles matches of note:

Porntip Buranaprasertsuk [7] (THA) vs. Ai Goto (JPN)
Bae Youn Joo [5] (KOR) vs. Salakjit Ponsana (THA)
Wang Xin [3] (CHN) vs Pi Hongyan (FRA)
Saina Nehwal [4] (IND) vs Lu Lan (CHN)

Men’s Doubles

Fang Chieh Min and Lee Sheng Mu (photo) versus Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan. The two pairs had to compete in three different Super Series events last year, with the Taiwanese taking the upper hand twice. Their first encounter was the Singapore Open final, won by Fang and Lee in straight games 21-14, 21-15.  Their 2010 title was a highlight in their career as they were also responsible for kicking Boe/Mogensen and Kido/Setiawan out of the tournament. This year their starter will be a clash with Indonesians Alvent Yulianto Chandra / Hendra Aprida Gunawan.

USA’s top pair Bach and Gunawan find some other veterans on the other side of the net for their first match. Both pairs go back a long time and are considered living legends.  Unfortunately only one twosome can win and they will face plenty of competition as all of Korea and China’s top pairs will be back this year, as will Denmark’s Boe/Mogensen, who have something to prove after their early exit last year, as well as their disappointment at the recent Sudirman Cup in Qingdao.

First round men’s doubles matches of note:

Jung Jae Sung / Lee Yong Dae [2] (KOR) vs. Ruud Bosch / Koen Ridder (NED)
Lee Sheng Mu / Fang Chieh Min [5] (TPE) vs. Alvent Yulianto Chandra / Hendra Aprida Gunawan (INA)
Markis Kido / Hendra Setiawan [6] (INA) vs. Tony Gunawan / Howard Bach (USA)

Click here for the complete draws for the 2011 Li-Ning Singapore Open Super Series

About Elm Vandevorst