34 still chasing 14 Dubai spots in Hong Kong

The Superseries heads to Hong Kong for the final event where players will have their last chance to score points toward qualifying for the Superseries Finals in Dubai. By Don […]

The heads to Hong Kong for the final event where players will have their last chance to score points toward qualifying for the in Dubai.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

In one way, the was eventful in terms of the race to qualify for the season-ending, million-dollar Superseries Finals in Dubai.  An additional 12 players and pairs mathematically clinched their spots for the December event, nearly equalling the 14 whose places had been secure after the French Open in October.  Those earlier 14 included the 5 World Champions, whose qualification was automatic.

The new certainties were most numerous in the mixed doubles, where 5 additional pairs confirmed their Dubai spots, while women’s doubles was the only discipline where all the spots that were in limbo after Paris remain so following the China Open in Fuzhou.  The other major change was in the sizes of the chase packs, the biggest being a halving in men’s doubles from 13 to 6.

On the other hand, a mere 2 of the 40 tentative Dubai tickets changed hands in Fuzhou.  One in men’s doubles and one in women’s are in different hands now and both pairs remain in a very precarious position going into the next week.

Men’s singles remains the most wide open of the five disciplines.  As in men’s doubles, the number of players with a mathematical chance of moving into the top eight decreased by 7 but the chase pack remains a healthy 10 shuttlers.

This number is likely to be cut quite quickly as Wong Wing Ki appearing on court for his home Superseries event, will make it a mathematical impossibility for an additional 4 shuttlers to qualify, including former champion Lin Dan.  Only Son Wan Ho and Chou Tien Chen (pictured below) clinched their spots last week but China’s Shi Yuqi will join them the moment he steps on court in Hong Kong.

The big story in men’s singles is the surge by new China Open champion Chen Long.  His 11,000 points from Fuzhou place him within a victory of current #8 Wong Wing Ki (pictured above).  That’s a far cry from languishing down at #20 in the standings after the French Open.

Tentative qualifiers: (see explanation below)

1  K. Srikanth (IND) – 59500 x
2  Son Wan Ho (KOR) – 57940
3  Chou Tien Chen (TPE) – 51890
4  Viktor Axelsen (DEN) – 49050

5  Shi Yuqi (CHN) – 47960
6  Ng Ka Long (HKG) – 47800
7  Lee Chong Wei (MAS) – 45060
8  Wong Wing Ki (HKG) – 42280

9  Chen Long (CHN) – 41480
10  H. S. Prannoy (IND) – 40510
11  Jonatan Christie (INA) – 39890
12  Anthony Ginting (INA) – 39780
13  Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (DEN) – 39500
14  Anders Antonsen (DEN) – 39160
15  Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (THA) – 37810 x
16  Sai Praneeth (IND) – 35240
17  Kazumasa Sakai (JPN) – 34570
18  Lin Dan (CHN) – 34100
19  Hu Yun (HKG) – 33800 *
20  Brice Leverdez (FRA) – 31860

Women’s doubles has only three pairs who have mathematically clinched their Dubai spots but of the top 3 pairs, all of them from Japan, we know that two will qualify.  But even with a 4,000-point cushion, Shiho Tanaka / Koharu Yonemoto (pictured below) can’t relax until they’ve reached the semi-finals in Hong Kong.

This discipline also has a much smaller chase pack than men’s singles, with 6 pairs vying for the bottom 3 spots and 2 of those about to leave the race as soon as Korea Open champions Huang Yaqiong / Yu Xiaohan step on court in Hong Kong.  Huang and Yu were the first of only two pairs across all 5 disciplines to effect a change in the top 8 bound for Dubai.  The moment they won their first round match in Fuzhou, they inched past India’s Ashwini Ponnappa / Sikki Reddy but they were unable to do much to consolidate that position.

The pair in the most precarious position remains Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan.  They have continued to slip since they stopped playing together after the Japan Open and if 3 pairs pass them this week in Hong Kong, then only one Korean pair will be qualified for Dubai.

The trick is that exactly 3 pairs have a shot at passing the Koreans and it won’t be easy.  Huang/Yu would have to reach the final, Ponnappa/Reddy the semi-finals, and while Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Ya Ching / Wu Ti Jung (pictured above) need only one win, that first win would have to be against Shin Seung Chan herself, in a new pairing with Macau Open finalist Lee Yu Rim (pictured bottom).

If any of those 3 pairs fail to catch the Koreans, they will also find themselves in danger of being caught by the likes of French Open winners Greysia Polii / Apriyani Rahayu.  The Indonesians have certainly proven they have what it takes to surge to the finish and they may be quite motivated to do just that when there is a Dubai ticket on the line.

1  Shiho Tanaka / Koharu Yonemoto (JPN) – 66640
2  Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) – 62710

3  Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota (JPN) – 62150
4  Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan (CHN) – 55130
5  Chang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (KOR) – 54570 x
6  Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN) – 53140

7  Naoko Fukuman / Kurumi Yonao (JPN) – 47910
8  Jung Kyung Eun / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) – 37220 x
9  Hsu Ya Ching / Wu Ti Jung (TPE) – 34080
10  Huang Yaqiong / Yu Xiaohan (CHN) – 31970

11  Ashwini Ponnappa / Sikki Reddy (IND) – 30540
12  Greysia Polii / Apriyani Rahayu (INA) – 27480
13  Maiken Fruergaard / Sara Thygesen (DEN) – 27220
14  Gabriela Stoeva / Stefani Stoeva (BUL) – 25600
15  Jongkolphan Kititharakul / Rawinda Prajongjai (THA) – 24880
17  Poon Lok Yan / Tse Ying Suet (HKG) – 23500
18  Vivian Hoo / Woon Khe Wei (MAS) – 21060

Men’s doubles may have one of the smallest chase packs but it also has 3 Dubai tickets up for grabs and only one of these will be confirmed by a first-round appearance in Hong Kong.  French Open winners Lee Jhe-Huei / Lee Yang will have mathematically clinched their spot in the Superseries Finals by Wednesday evening, provided they don’t withdraw from the tournament.  By the same time, their compatriots Wang/Chen will be out of the race if Hoki/Kobayashi have also shown up to play.

Takuro Hoki / Yugo Kobayashi were the only other new entrants to the Dubai list last week, apart from Huang/Yu in the women’s doubles.  They were past Hendra Setiawan / Tan Boon Heong (pictured above) once they reached the Hong Kong quarters.

Unfortunately for the Japanese #2 pair, they have the world #1 pair standing in their way in the second round and it will be very difficult for them to accumulate many points in Hong Kong.  The good news is that if they can win their opening match, they will be down to three chasing pairs having to reach the semis to catch them.

1  Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA) – 77630
2  Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (DEN) – 65280
3  Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (CHN) – 61840
4  Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (JPN) – 61410
5  Liu Cheng / Zhang Nan (CHN) – 60470

6  Lee Jhe-Huei / Lee Yang (TPE) – 50090
7  Mads Conrad Petersen / Mads Pieler Kolding (DEN) – 45710
8  Takuro Hoki / Yugo Kobayashi (JPN) – 42550

9  Hendra Setiawan (INA) / Tan Boon Heong (MAS) – 41040
10  Vladimir Ivanov / Ivan Sozonov (RUS) – 38800 (pictured right)
11  Anders Skaarup Rasmussen / Kim Astrup Sorensen (DEN) – 37440 *
12  Angga Pratama / Ricky Karanda Suwardi (INA) – 36720
13  Lu Ching Yao / Yang Po Han (TPE) – 36340
14  Chen Hung Ling / Wang Chi Lin (TPE) – 34140
15  Fajar Alfian / Muhammad Rian Ardianto (INA) – 31360

Mixed doubles may have a long list of chasers but it is one of two disciplines with exactly one spot not yet clinched.  Furthermore, Kenta Kazuno / Ayane Kurihara may have lucked in before the Hong Kong Open has even started as the withdrawal of World Champions Ahmad/Natsir.  With no seeded pairs in their path to the quarter-final, even were they to fall in the final 8, only a champion in Hong Kong would be able to catch them.

On the other hand, Hong Kong champions are exactly what Lee Chun Hei / Chau Hoi Wah (pictured top) will be keen to become at long last.  It was four years ago that they were in the semi-final at home and two years since their first and only Superseries title but they have been in the final four at the Worlds, the Asian Championships and earlier this month at the Macau Open so there is no question they have the potential to get back to the top of the podium.

The latest mixed pair to clinch their Dubai spot was actually Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong.  That happened the instant Wang Yilyu / Huang Dongping (pictured above) lost their semi-final match in Fuzhou, as the latter’s only chance at catching their compatriots and qualifying for Dubai as the 2nd pair for China was to win the last two Superseries events.  However, they are still firmly in the top 8 and could still go to Dubai if the Chinese team were to elect to keep one or both of their now disbanded pairs at home.

1  Zheng Siwei / Chen Qingchen (CHN) – 58820 x
2  Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) – 57470 x
3  Tontowi Ahmad / Liliyana Natsir (INA) – 52140 x

4  Wang Yilyu / Huang Dongping (CHN) – 45810
5  Praveen Jordan / Debby Susanto (INA) – 44360
6  Tang Chun Man / Tse Ying Suet (HKG) – 42580
7  Chris Adcock / Gabrielle Adcock (ENG) – 42330
8  Tan Kian Meng / Lai Pei Jing (MAS) – 39230

9  Kenta Kazuno / Ayane Kurihara (JPN) – 32020

10  Lee Chun Hei / Chau Hoi Wah (HKG) – 28770
11  Wang Chi-Lin / Lee Chia Hsin (TPE) – 28760
12  Lee Yang / Hsu Ya Ching (TPE) – 28400
13  Yugo Kobayashi / Misaki Matsutomo (JPN) – 27050 (pictured right)
16  Seo Seung Jae / Kim Ha Na (KOR) – 25780
17  Goh Soon Huat / Shevon Jemie Lai (MAS) – 25540
18  Bodin Issara / Savitree Amitrapai (THA) – 24100 x
19  Yuta Watanabe / Arisa Higashino (JPN) – 24000
20  Takuro Hoki / Sayaka Hirota (JPN) – 23700
21  Lu Ching Yao / Chiang Kai Hsin (TPE) – 23010

Women’s singles is really a two-horse race.  Carolina Marin became the 7th sure thing as soon as Saina Nehwal lost her 2nd round match in Fuzhou.  The 8th spot, currently belonging to He Bingjiao (pictured),  is the only Dubai ticket not yet mathematically clinched and as soon as she appears on court on Wednesday, her only challenger will be compatriot Chen Yufei.

For Chen Yufei (pictured below), not only does she have tough opponents like Saina Nehwal and Tai Tzu Ying in her quarter, but her team-mate He need only reach the quarter-final of the Hong Kong Open before she’ll be assured of passage to Dubai.  On the other hand, He Bingjiao’s first opponent, Zhang Beiwen, has beaten her already this year and Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan is no pushover either.

1  Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) – 78670
2  Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) – 70220
3  Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) – 62480
4  Ratchanok Intanon (THA) – 61300
5  P. V. Sindhu (IND) – 60240
6  Carolina Marin (ESP) – 59040
7  Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) – 48020

8  He Bingjiao (CHN) – 47850

9  Sayaka Sato (JPN) – 43930
10  Chen Yufei (CHN) – 43490
11  Saina Nehwal (IND) – 40680
12  Zhang Beiwen (USA) – 37560

In the above analysis, I am using a conservative definition of ‘clinch’ – marked on the table in bold, green italics – that entails a top 8 player having enough points to be out of reach of the 9th place player or pair even should the latter win the last title and the former be unable to play in the first round in Hong Kong.

I have shown in bold green the 8 players and pairs who would qualify were the Superseries to end after the first 11 tournaments.  I have shown in grey the players or pairs who cannot catch one of the current 8 qualifiers or who cannot catch either of two qualified compatriots.  Finally, I have displayed an x if a player or pair has withdrawn from or not entered the Hong Kong Open.  An asterisk (*) denotes a player who can only qualify by beating out a currently qualified compatriot.  The numbers are based on calculations to include points earned from the China Open but the official Superseries standings will be available later in the week from the BWF website.

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