The Sudirman Cup’s ‘free agents’

As always with a team event, there are several top players who end up attending without their regular partners.  In the 2017 edition of the Sudirman, we have injuries, retirements […]


As always with a team event, there are several top players who end up attending without their regular partners.  In the 2017 edition of the Sudirman, we have injuries, retirements and otherwise unexplained absences that have prevented successful – and in some cases top – pairs from appearing together.  The teams bringing along the uncommitted, remaining partners will be hoping to be able to capitalize on a lethal, surprise partnership.

In women’s doubles, Greysia Polii, Bao Yixin, and Jung Kyung Eun will all be on hand without their most established partners, while in mixed, Chan Peng Soon and Tontowi Ahmad’s partners are on the injured list and Kim Ha Na’s world #3 partner Ko Sung Hyun has retired, while his replacement Yoo Yeon Seong has also left the national squad after just three outings with Kim.

The scratch partnerships at the Sudirman do not involve quite the strategizing that they do in a men’s or women’s team event.  In the latter case, a scratch can take advantage of lower to pit a seasoned veteran against an inexperienced second doubles pair, sometimes by bringing a mixed specialist over to level doubles.  At the Sudirman, seeding is not an issue and a team can field whoever it wants – strong or weak – in each discipline.

The inexperience of a scratch pairing is often offset by such a duo’s unfamiliarity to an established pair, whose own playing style can be studied in advance by video analysis.  China, in particular, has seen such arrangements bear fruit in the past year.  Not only did Fu Haifeng and Zheng Siwei reach the Malaysia Open final in their first appearance this spring but last year, Chen Qingchen blazed to the youngster’s first Superseries title right here in Australia last summer and this same partnership – with Bao Yixin – is one of China’s many options for women’s doubles on the Gold Coast.

Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun did team up with her former partner Kim Ha Na in Jeju recently to beat one of Japan’s top pairs but in general, it seems unlikely that we’ll see mixed specialists cross over to level doubles or vice versa.  Kim partnered Choi Sol Gyu at the Asian Mixed Team Championships but did not end up with any huge upsets.  Chan Peng Soon has experience with Lai Pei Jing but they had such limited success that barring injury, one would expect the stable partnership of Lai with Tan Kian Meng to be the obvious choice.  As for Ahmad, asking him to rise to the occasion with fellow Malaysia Masters semi-finalist Widjaja seems like a sensible alternative but only in the case of Jordan/Susanto being out of commission.

The most likely ‘free agent’ to see extensive action is Greysia Polii.  Unlike the other five cases, Indonesian women’s doubles has been without a top ten pair since Polii’s former partner Maheswari left to seek surgery.  Polii briefly paired up with Putri Sari earlier this year and helped the 20-year-old to her first ever win over a top Chinese pair.

Click here to read Badzine’s full for the 2017
For the draws and team rosters, click here

Photos: Badmintonphoto

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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