HONG KONG OPEN 2011 Preview – Big things come in bigger packages

The 2011 OSIM BWF Super Series moves into the homestretch later this month with the Hong Kong Open in a new and bigger venue which badminton’s biggest stars will be […]

The 2011 OSIM BWF Super Series moves into the homestretch later this month with the in a new and bigger venue which badminton’s biggest stars will be certain to fill with fans and great action, beginning with a tough opener for local boy Wong Wing Ki.

By Kevin Kung, Badzine Correspondent in Hong Kong.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

Moving from Queen Elizabeth Stadium to Hong Kong Coliseum, the Hong Kong Open will say goodbye to an additional competition day for qualifying rounds, which had made it the only 7-day event in the Super Series.

Queen Elizabeth Stadium is small and could only hold a maximum of three badminton courts. Due to this limitation, some qualifiers needed to play on Monday, while the Round of 32 was also spread across two days, which is different from any other Super Series tournaments.  With a much bigger venue this year, this problem is finally solved and the competitions will start on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 for a leaner – but no less exciting – Yonex Sunrise Hong Kong Open.

Men’s singles

Three years ago, local star Wong Wing Ki (pictured top) entered his first Super Series quarter-final at the Hong Kong Open, which he lost in straight games to veteran Taufik Hidayat. He lost to Du Pengyu at the qualifying stage in 2009 and Lee Hyun Il from Korea in round 2 last year.  However, Wong’s recent victory over Lin Dan in Denmark Open has made him the talk of the town.  Will he be able to give another surprise to his fans and new supporters?

The 21-year-old new star will face Japan’s Takuma Ueda in first round and have a possible rematch with World Champion Lin Dan if he proceeds.  However, the lower-ranked Takuma has already proven that he is no pushover, having beaten Wong in two close matches this year.

Another highlight of the tournament will be Lin Dan’s form.  He granted a walkover to Nguyen Tien Minh in the quarter-finals last year and failed to finish nearly a third of the 13 tournaments he’s played since. Will he disappoint the local crowd once again?  Or he will bounce back to claim his fifth Hong Kong Open title?  What we do know is that his main rival Lee Chong Wei (pictured right), who is in the same upper half of the draw, will like to win his third consecutive title at Hong Kong Coliseum.

First round men’s singles matches of note:
Wong Wing Ki (HKG) vs. Takuma Ueda (JPN)
Kenichi Tago (JPN) vs Jan Jorgensen (DEN)

Women’s singles

China’s Wang Shixian just got back to the top of the world rankings this week for the first time since before the Worlds.  The second seeded player suffered a mental and physical letdown against India’s Saina Nehwal in the 2010 final. Wang will have a tricky opener against Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying (pictured). Tai upset Tine Baun in the first round in front of the Dane’s home crowd at Denmark Open, after which she continued to eliminate Hong Kong’s Yip Pui Yin and Wang Yihan, before losing to Li Xuerui. It is obvious that she is a threat to Wang this time.

First round women’s singles matches of note:
Wang Shixian [2] (CHN) vs. Tai Tzu Ying (TPE)
Wang Xin [3] (CHN) vs. Sung Ji Hyun (KOR)
Cheng Shao Chieh [8] (TPE) vs. Sayaka Sato (JPN)

Mixed doubles

In their first match, mixed doubles World Champions Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei will face the newest inductees to the world’s top 10, Lee Yong Dae / Ha Jung Eun.  Lee and Ha are Korea’s only pair with even a glimmer of a chance at a berth in the point- and prize-money-rich Super Series Finals but a first-round loss here would ensure that they’d be travelling to Liuzhou for just one event each.

The real challenge for the top-seeded Chinese pair, and for their compatriots Xu Chen / Ma Jin, has got to be third-seeded Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (pictured). Both Chinese pairs lost to the Danes two times in a row at Denmark and French Open last month.  As the Olympics are around the corner, they urgently need to find a way to beat the Danish pair.

First round mixed doubles matches of note:
Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei [1] (CHN) vs. Lee Yong Dae / Ha Jung Eun (KOR)
Chris Adcock (ENG) / Imogen Bankier (SCO) [6] vs. He Hanbin / Bao Yixin (CHN)
Shintaro Ikeda / Reiko Shiota [8] (JPN) vs. Hong Wei / Pan Pan (CHN)

Women’s doubles

For women’s doubles, 7 local pairs are in the draw but the final of the event is likely to be held between the Chinese pairs. Top seeded Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang and second seeded Tian Qing / Zhao Yunlei will aim to face each other pair in the final.  The only surprise could be to see a usurper sneak into one of those final spots.

While the rest of the women’s doubles field fights to keep up with these two top pairs, the Chinese will only dominate the two ends of the draw, as Ma Jin and Zhong Qianxin have withdrawn, and the struggling Cheng Shu / Pan Pan are set to clash with Tian/Zhao in the second round.

First round women’s doubles matches of note:
Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl [8] (DEN) vs. Jwala Gutta / Ashwini Ponnappa (IND) (pictured)
Line Damkjaer Kruse / Marie Roepke (DEN) vs. Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN)

Men’s doubles

Men’s doubles World champions Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng fell in the quarter-final last year. They are well-known to the Hong Kongers and they have a pretty good draw this year.  In the same half of the draw, Denmark’s Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen are likely to meet Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong in the quarter-final to duke it out for a shot at meeting Cai/Fu.

Korea’s three pairs should also make things interesting.  In addition to their recent trio of losses to second-seeded Jung/Lee, Cai/Fu have had trouble this year with three other Korean pairs and one such, Kim Ki Jung / Shin Baek Cheol (pictured) are back to meddle in the Chinese stars’ first round in Hong Kong.  Meanwhile, China’s Hong Wei / Shen Ye will hope to follow up their upset of defending champions Ko/Yoo in France with a similar performance when they meet two-time winners Jung Jae Sung / Lee Yong Dae in the first round.

First round men’s doubles matches of note:
Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng [1] (CHN) vs. Kim Ki Jung / Shin Baek Cheol (KOR)
Tao Jiaming / Zhang Nan (CHN) vs. Gan Teik Chai / Tan Bin Shen (MAS)
Anthony Clark / Chris Langridge (ENG) vs. Liu Xiaolong / Qiu Zihan(CHN)
Mads Conrad Petersen / Jonas Rasmussen (DEN) vs. Alvent Yulianto Chandra / Hendra Aprida Gunawan (INA)

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