By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent. Photos: Badmintonphoto
2011 marks the first time that the BWF World Superseries Finals will have its half-million-dollar season finale during an Olympic qualifying season. The world’s top shuttlers have shown unprecedented loyalty to the OSIM BWF World Superseries and its high ranking points and Liuzhou should definitely play host to the cream of the crop.
Barring injury or other surprises, 2011 should also be the first time that the great Lin Dan (pictured) graces this event with his presence. The Badminton World Federation made attendance compulsory for last year’s edition but by some fluke, Lin was not in the Superseries top ten in 2010. This year, Lin is the second-ranked Chinese player in men’s singles, though not even his consecutive titles in Hong Kong and Shanghai could inch him ahead of team-mate Chen Long.
In fact, Lin Dan should be at the head of the largest ever Superseries Finals contingent, a fortuitous development for the Chinese, who are also hosting for the first time. China sent nine entries last time around but they have placed another mixed doubles pair to join World Champions Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei, to make up their maximum two per discipline. Japan will have the second biggest contingent with seven entries, while Korea and Denmark can send five each.
Variety: The spice of Liuzhou
Unlike last year (see 2010 standings here), where three men and two women were in Taipei for mixed and level doubles, the only double qualifiers in 2011 will be three women: Zhao Yunlei, Cheng Wen Hsing (pictured right with mixed partner Chen Hung Ling), and Christinna Pedersen as the Olympic qualifying year seems to have given rise to more mixed doubles specialists, Chen Hung Ling being the only man in the mixed top 14 who is a regular top men’s doubles performer.
The limit of two entries per country accounts for the biggest omissions from the Liuzhou talent pool. As usual, China feels this pinch the hardest, though only in the two singles categories, where players from abroad will cut into the queue ahead of four Chinese shuttlers in total. The only other instance is Japan, with four pairs in the top 8 but two staying home.
Any tickets on standby?
After the big upheaval in the rankings due to the interruption of several campaigns by the South East Asian Games (see previous discussion here), there should be relatively little change in the standings after the China Open is figured in.
Indonesia’s Simon Santoso (pictured left) was the only SEA Games casualty to make the ground back. At first, it may have looked like Peter Gade had done him the favour by beating Shon Wan Ho in the first round, but Simon earned his passage to Liuzhou with a march all the way to the semi-finals.
The top eight in both men’s and mixed doubles remained constant through the China Open, but with some jumbling away from the top. SEA Games gold medallists Ahsan/Septano were vulnerable after missing Hong Kong and losing early in Shanghai but they still emerge the first of the three Indonesian pairs vying for 8th spot.
Similarly, first round exits by #7 Blair/White and #8 Ikeda/Shiota left the door wide open to about half a dozen mixed doubles pairs but all came up short and the top Japanese duo will bring up the rear.
China Open semi-finalists Anugritayawon and Voravichitchaikul were just one win away from sneaking into the last spot but they will have to work hard in the Grand Prix events instead, to stay in the world’s top 10 once they lose the points they earned at last year’s Finals.
Also coming up just short were India’s Jwala Gutta and Diju Valiyaveetil (pictured right), coincidentally the Thais’ first opponent next week in Macau. Jwala Gutta was even closer in the women’s doubles, where she and Ashwini Ponnappa lucked in with the withdrawal of the fifth seeds, but they were still just shy of a ticket to the finals.
2010 runner-up Bae Youn Joo put together two consecutive quarter-final finishes to snatch the last spot away from Cheng Shao Chieh. She thus joins team-mate Sung Ji Hyun not only in the small field in Liuzhou, but in looking ahead to a solid five weeks of tournament play.
The final week saw no rearrangement of top two seeds nor of any Chinese or Japanese top twos. Reigning women’s singles champion Wang Shixian (pictured left) had the most realistic chance, going into the China Open, but her second round loss nixed that possibility and she remains the third-ranked Chinese shuttler.
Non-stop for some at the top
For the forty qualifiers, the Li-Ning BWF World Superseries Finals is a great opportunity. It offers ranking points on a par with an OSIM BWF World Superseries Premier event, has only eight players per discipline, and singles, excludes China’s 3rd and 4th ranked players. It comes as no surprise, then, that the majority have elected to skip the next two Grand Prix Gold events – in Macau then Hwasun, Korea – which span the two weeks until the Superseries Finals kick off in Liuzhou on December 14th.
In men’s singles, Simon Santoso is alone in entering both Macau and Korea while Chen Long, Peter Gade, and Sho Sasaki are the only ones taking the two weeks off. In the women’s event, all but Sayaka Sato and the two Koreans will be resting. In men’s doubles, Ko Sung Hyun / Yoo Yeon Seong (pictured) still plan to play both. Three other pairs in men’s doubles and four each in women’s and mixed will play one each between now and Liuzhou.
You will find below a calculation of the expected final standings for the OSIM BWF World Superseries, once the BWF adds in points won at the China Open. These standings are unofficial, and are merely in anticipation of the official standings, which should be available by December 1st at this link.
1 Wang Yihan (CHN) – 82270
2 Wang Xin (CHN) – 80800
3 Wang Shixian (CHN) – 75190
4 Juliane Schenk (GER) – 53580
5 Saina Nehwal (IND) – 52620
6 Tine Baun (DEN) – 52240
7 Sayaka Sato (JPN) – 48370
8 Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) – 47550
9 Liu Xin (CHN) – 45990
10 Bae Youn Joo (KOR) – 45330 (pictured left)
11 Jiang Yanjiao (CHN) – 44950
12 Cheng Shao Chieh (TPE) – 44540
1 Lee Chong Wei (MAS) – 90220
2 Chen Long (CHN) – 81330
3 Lin Dan (CHN) – 81290
4 Peter Gade (DEN) – 70900
5 Chen Jin (CHN) – 65270
6 Kenichi Tago (JPN) – 49810
7 Du Pengyu (CHN) – 48430
8 Sho Sasaki (JPN) – 45230
9 Taufik Hidayat (INA) – 44280
10 Simon Santoso (INA) – 43760
11 Wang Zhengming (CHN) – 42550
12 Shon Wan Ho (KOR) – 40280
1 Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang (CHN) – 89000
2 Tian Qing / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) – 76470 (pictured right)
3 Mizuki Fujii / Reika Kakiiwa (JPN) – 70470
4 Ha Jung Eun / Kim Min Jung (KOR) – 57060
5 Shizuka Matsuo / Mami Naito (JPN) – 51880
6 Cheng Wen Hsing / Chien Yu Chin (TPE) – 48530
7 Miyuki Maeda / Satoko Suetsuna (JPN) – 45670
8 Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) – 43080
9 Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN) – 42540
10 Poon Lok Yan / Tse Ying Suet (HKG) – 42330
11 Jwala Gutta / Ashwini Ponnappa (IND) – 41700
12 Vita Marissa / Melati Nadya (INA) – 38770
1 Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng (CHN) – 81620
2 Jung Jae Sung / Lee Yong Dae (KOR) – 70960
3 Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (DEN) – 60160
4 Ko Sung Hyun / Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) – 57520
5 Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong (MAS) – 55510
6 Chai Biao / Guo Zhendong (CHN) – 54300
7 Hirokatsu Hashimoto / Noriyasu Hirata (JPN) – 53400
8 Muhammad Ahsan / Bona Septano (INA) – 51850
9 Alvent Yulianto Chandra / Hendra Aprida Gunawan (INA) – 50400
10 Markis Kido / Hendra Setiawan (INA) – 49040
1 Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) – 85290
2 Joachim Fischer-Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) – 76630
3 Xu Chen / Ma Jin (CHN) – 64430 (pictured left)
4 Chen Hung Ling / Cheng Wen Hsing (TPE) – 63880
5 Tantowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir (INA) – 57340
6 Sudket Prapakamol / Saralee Thoungthongkam (THA) – 43160
7 Robert Blair / Gabrielle White (SCO/ENG) – 39720
8 Shintaro Ikeda / Reiko Shiota (JPN) – 39410
9 Diju Valiyaveetil / Jwala Gutta (IND) – 38450
10 Songphon Anugritayawon / Kunchala Voravichitchaikul (THA) – 38120
11 Muhammad Rijal / Debby Susanto (INA) – 38070
12 Nova Widianto / Vita Marissa (INA) – 36680