The Road to…Liuzhou?

With the badminton world fixated on qualifying for the London Olympics, 40 competitors are in the process of earning their shot at the big money and points of December’s OSIM […]

With the badminton world fixated on qualifying for the London Olympics, 40 competitors are in the process of earning their shot at the big money and points of December’s OSIM Super Series Finals in Liuzhou and the Hong Kong Open provided a significant shake-up to the standings.

By Don Hearn. Photos: Badmintonphoto

By now, it is clear that the Super Series Finals are here to stay.  Once again this year, we had early scheduling and early announcements of venue and sponsor.  If there was any doubt about the efficacy of the Badminton World Federation (BWF)’s plan to make the Finals compulsory for all players who qualify, these were allayed when China sent their full nine to Taiwan in January, without even picking and choosing among their many top 8 singles players.

Players from all over will be keen for a slice of the points on offer, equivalent to a Premier Super Series, not to mention the half million in .   But this year’s event is even more of a sure draw for Team China, as the home team, and they have even upped their share of the berths as firming up of their doubles pairs has resulted in a full faction of 10 players and pairs making the grade for 2011.

The Hong Kong Open week provided a particular shake-up in the OSIM Super Series standings, not only because of the normal ebb and flow of players’ performances, but also because of the coincidence with the SEA Games, which kept away most of the top players from Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore.

What follows is a calculation of the expected Super Series standings, once the BWF adds in points won at the Hong Kong Open.  Obviously, these standings are unofficial.  Official standings should be available by November 24th at this link.

Men’s singles

Simon Santoso (pictured above) may have won gold at the SEA Games but missing the Hong Kong Open bumped him out of contention for a spot in Liuzhou.  However, he is still within striking distance, whereas Nguyen Tien Minh, who also had a shot at qualifying again, will basically need a finals appearance in Shanghai and a few other contingencies.

The battle to usurp Simon’s spot actually happened on Thursday, between Korea’s Shon Wan Ho (pictured left) and Germany’s Mark Zwiebler and it was Shon who took the advantage.  However, Shon’s Finals ticket is in a very precarious situation as Zwiebler, Santoso and even Japan’s Kazushi Yamada are all breathing down his neck as the Korean gets set to take on Peter Gade on Wednesday in the first round of the Li Ning China Open.  Gade had considerable trouble with Shon their first three meetings but seems to have found the secret in their two most recent meetings.

1  Lee Chong Wei (MAS) – 82520
2  Chen Long (CHN) – 71980
3  Lin Dan (CHN) – 70290
4  Peter Gade (DEN) – 64850
5  Chen Jin (CHN) – 59220
6  Kenichi Tago (JPN) – 45490
7  Du Pengyu (CHN) – 44110
8  Taufik Hidayat (INA) – 39960
9  Sho Sasaki (JPN) – 39180
10  Wang Zhengming (CHN) – 38230
11  Shon Wan Ho (KOR) – 37620
12  Marc Zwiebler (GER) – 36460
13  Simon Santoso (INA) – 36060
14 Kazushi Yamada (JPN) – 35370

Women’s singles

Singapore’s Gu Juan had quietly sneaked into the last spot in women’s singles but missing Hong Kong has all but taken her out of the running.  Tine Baun was barely in the top 8 (not counting China’s ineligible 3rd and 4th) but her stellar performance in Hong Kong has obviously solidified that position.

It was Cheng Shao Chieh (pictured) who slipped into the last qualifying spot by reaching the Hong Kong quarter-finals.  Bae Youn Joo of Korea also clambered up a few rungs but in China, she starts against Saina Nehwal, whom she has never beaten.

Finally, there has been some jostling for position among the top 3 Wangs – with Wang Xin pulling out in front by a nose and looking set to make her first SSF appearance – but as all three are contenders in Shanghai, all three have basically equal chance of earning their tickets west in December.

1  Wang Xin (CHN) – 71450
2  Wang Yihan (CHN) – 71270
3  Wang Shixian (CHN) – 70870
4  Juliane Schenk (GER) – 50920
5  Saina Nehwal (IND) – 49960
6  Tine Baun (DEN) – 47920
7  Sayaka Sato (JPN) – 44050
8  Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) – 43230
9  Jiang Yanjiao (CHN) – 42290
10  Cheng Shao Chieh (TPE) – 41880
11  Bae Youn Joo (KOR) – 39280
12  Gu Juan (SIN) – 38630
13 Liu Xin (CHN) – 38290
14 Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) – 38230

Men’s doubles

There has been surprisingly little SEA Games effect in the men’s doubles, despite the preponderance of pairs from this region in the ’s top 10.  Gold medallists Ahsan/Septano are secure for now, as they head up to Shanghai.  Despite the concurrent absence of Koo/Tan and Boe Mogensen, as well as the poor performance by Chai/Guo in Hong Kong, which has resulted in 7 pairs being within a 2000-point window, only Hong Kong quarter-finalists Alvent Yulianto Chandra and Hendra Aprida Gunawan have a realistic shot at ousting one of the top eight.

Kido/Setiawan are now more than 5000 points out of 8th place, which has been snapped up by Ko Sung Hyun / Yoo Yeon Seong (pictured).  The Koreans had to fight for it on Friday with Chandra and Gunawan, who are now also the second ranked Indonesians in the OSIM Super Series table.  This year is a whole different situation for Ko/Yoo, who went to Taipei as the #1 seeds in the 2010 edition of the Super Series Finals.

1  Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng (CHN) – 75570
2  Jung Jae Sung / Lee Yong Dae (KOR) – 63260
3  Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong (MAS) – 49460
4  Muhammad Ahsan / Bona Septano (INA) – 49190
5  Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (DEN) – 49160
6  Hirokatsu Hashimoto / Noriyasu Hirata (JPN) – 49080
7  Chai Biao / Guo Zhendong (CHN) – 48250
8  Ko Sung Hyun / Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) – 48170
9  Alvent Yulianto Chandra / Hendra Aprida Gunawan (INA) – 47740
10  Markis Kido / Hendra Setiawan (INA) – 42990

Women’s doubles

Not so much has happened at the top in this discipline but Marissa/Melati have been replaced as the 8th pair by Poon Lok Yan / Tse Ying Suet (pictured), who reached their home quarter-final this week.  The Indonesians are still only 2000 points away and are thus closer than Gutta/Ponnappa of India and Jung/Kim of Korea, but only the Indians are in a quarter with no Chinese and thus they have the best shot at making up a lot of points in Shanghai.

1  Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang (CHN) – 78000
2  Tian Qing / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) – 68770
3  Mizuki Fujii / Reika Kakiiwa (JPN) – 62770
4  Ha Jung Eun / Kim Min Jung (KOR) – 52740
5  Cheng Wen Hsing / Chien Yu Chin (TPE) – 45870
6  Shizuka Matsuo / Mami Naito (JPN) – 45830
7  Miyuki Maeda / Satoko Suetsuna (JPN) – 41350
8  Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN) – 39880
9  Poon Lok Yan / Tse Ying Suet (HKG) – 38010
10  Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) – 37030
11  Vita Marissa / Melati Nadya (INA) – 36110
12  Jwala Gutta / Ashwini Ponnappa (IND) – 35650
13 Jung Kyung Eun / Kim Ha Na (KOR) – 33180

Mixed doubles

Going into the Hong Kong Open, there was such a huge gap between the top 6 and the rest of the field that the Finals tickets of the two SEA Games finalists are clearly secure.  Not so for Indonesia’s second pair Rijal/Susanto, who lost their spot to Japan’s Shintaro Ikeda / Reiko Shiota (pictured).

Still, there are four pairs in the chase group, although only three are entered in the China Open and the race is close enough that the UK’s Blair/White could well be ousted as well, though only if India’s Diju V. / Jwala Gutta are among the assailants, as only one of Indonesia’s two pairs will be allowed to join Ahmad/Natsir in Liuzhou.

1  Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) – 74290
2  Joachim Fischer-Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) – 67280
3  Xu Chen / Ma Jin (CHN) – 60110
4  Chen Hung Ling / Cheng Wen Hsing (TPE) – 57830
5  Tantowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir (INA) – 53020
6  Sudket Prapakamol / Saralee Thoungthongkam (THA) – 40500
7  Robert Blair / Gabrielle White (SCO/ENG) – 37060
8  Shintaro Ikeda / Reiko Shiota (JPN) – 36750
9  Muhammad Rijal / Debby Susanto (INA) – 35410
10  Fran Kurniawan / Pia Zebediah Bernadet (INA) – 35130
11  Diju Valiyaveetil / Jwala Gutta (IND) – 34130
12  Nova Widianto / Vita Marissa (INA) – 34020

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Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net