WORLD TOUR FINALS 2018 – And then there were two…

First round appearances at the Syed Modi Super 300 mean that 38 spots at the World Tour Finals have been clinched, with one longshot in India and one serious possibility […]

First round appearances at the Syed Modi Super 300 mean that 38 spots at the have been clinched, with one longshot in India and one serious possibility remaining in Scotland…

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

Technically all but six invitations for the World Tour Finals (WTF) remained unassigned when the Hong Kong Open wrapped up but 3 of those were actually mere formalities as the only question remaining was whether the three pairs would show up to play on Wednesday in Lucknow.  In fact, the first of the six was an abdication by long-shots Inoue/Kaneko, who withdrew from the Syed Modi Super 300, where they would have had to win the title to be invited to Guangzhou.

There is still one more hopeful who needs a title in Lucknow and one pair that needs a semi-final in the event they are favoured to win.  Let’s take a look at the last remaining questions to be answered on the road to Guangzhou.

Mixed doubles

The list of Guangzhou qualifiers in mixed doubles did not change over the course of the week in Hong Kong.  However, the important development that was observed there was the absence of game-changing results by two chasing pairs and the lowest on the qualifying list.

At the start of the week, Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet needed to make the finals to be safe from all challengers but even though their job got easier as the tournament progressed, they were unable to make it out of the woods.  Chris and Gabrielle Adcock needing a very strong performance but they went out early, while Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti could have at least taken tentative possession of the last Guangzhou ticket with one more win but in the end all three pairs left the door open to one last hopeful.

Enter England’s Lauren Smith and Marcus Ellis (pictured).  Top seeds at this week’s Scottish Open and newly-crowned champions at the last two Super 100 events, they are again favourites in Glasgow but really all they need is to make the semi-finals.  If they can merely equal the point total of Tang/Tan, they will qualify for Guangzhou by virtue of having played more tournaments than the Hong Kong pair.

1  Zheng Siwei / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) – 104820
2  Yuta Watanabe / Arisa Higashino (JPN) – 83970
3  Dechapol Puavaranukroh / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA) – 81060
4  Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (MAS) – 76340
5  Wang Yilü / Huang Dongping (CHN) – 75080
6  Hafiz Faizal / Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja (INA) – 73590
7  Goh Soon Huat / Shevon Jemie Lai (MAS) – 72270
8  He Jiting / Du Yue (CHN) – 64060
9  Tang Chun Man / Tse Ying Suet (HKG) – 63660
10  Praveen Jordan / Melati Daeva Oktavianti (INA) – 63090
11  Tontowi Ahmad / (INA) – 63050
12  Wang Chi-Lin / Lee Chia Hsin (TPE) – 62120
13  Mathias Christiansen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) – 60250
14  Chris Adcock / Gabrielle Adcock (ENG) – 59850
15  Marcus Ellis / Lauren Smith (ENG) – 59810  *

Men’s singles

This discipline is almost all wrapped up.  Son Wan Ho and Kenta Nishimoto both passed Lin Dan with their first round results and he eventually dropped to 10th spot.  The final in Hong Kong decided not only who would double his money and take home the winner’s cheque, but also which player would be able to breathe easily, knowing the trip to China next month was confirmed.

Even though Kenta Nishimoto (pictured) was the one who let the final slip through his fingers and found himself still in limbo by Sunday night, he only needs to hold his breath until India’s Sameer Verma’s luck runs out.  Verma is the 3rd seed at the Syed Modi but top-seeded compatriot Srikanth Kidambi has already withdrawn.  The trouble is that Sameer Verma (pictured top) has to win the title to catch Nishimoto and the draw in Lucknow is still packed with talent.

1  Chou Tien Chen (TPE) – 96890
2  Kento Momota (JPN) – 86370
3  Tommy Sugiarto (INA) – 78000
4  Shi Yuqi (CHN) – 73540
5  Son Wan Ho (KOR) – 67900
6  Kantaphon Wancharoen (THA) – 66680
7  Anthony Ginting (INA) – 66610

8  Kenta Nishimoto (JPN) – 66300
9  Jonatan Christie (INA) – 62790
10  Sameer Verma (IND) – 62370  †

Women’s singles

This was the first discipline to be completely confirmed.  As soon as He Bingjiao withdrew mid-match in the Hong Kong Open quarter-final stage, Canada’s Michelle Li (pictured) had clinched her ticket to the season finale.

Like men’s singles, the women’s event will see invitations sent out to the actual top 8 in the Race to Guangzhou rankings.  This is impossible in men’s and women’s doubles, and as for mixed, it depends on how far the Brits progress in Britain.

1  Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) – 93090
2  Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) – 90730
3  Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) – 86860
4  Chen Yufei (CHN) – 79340
5  Ratchanok Intanon (THA) – 76210
6  P. V. Sindhu (IND) – 72620
7  Carolina Marin (ESP) – 70550
8  Michelle Li (CAN) – 70180

Women’s doubles

This discipline had to sort things out at the top.  The Hong Kong Open title performance pushed world #1 pair Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota ahead of #2 Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (pictured) in the see-saw atop the women’s doubles World Tour standings.  But it is entering the Syed Modi International which would prove the clincher as merely an on-court appearance in the first round – where they indeed threw in the towel after 8 rallies – proved sufficient to push the Olympic gold medallists to the top, as their compatriots had elected to stay home.

The India event is actually the first tournament under a Super 500 for Matsutomo/Takahashi all year, while Fukushima and Hirota also played exactly one, at the German Open last spring.  Of course has two other pairs, in addition to the world #1, who will be passed over for Guanzhou invitations, as one had to be given to World Champions Matsumoto/Nagahara and only two pairs from Japan could be welcomed to the Finals.

The battle for the bottom spot ended in Hong Kong when Haris/Pradipta were blocked by the eventual winners.  The same day, Du/Li also lost but by that time, there was no one left to chase them.

1  Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) – 96680
2  Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota (JPN) – 95900
3  Mayu Matsumoto / Wakana Nagahara (JPN) – 85960
4  Greysia Polii / Apriyani Rahayu (INA) – 79770
5  Jongkolphan Kititharakul / Rawinda Prajongjai (THA) – 78000
6  Lee So Hee / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) – 70870
7  Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan (CHN) – 67410
8  Ayako Sakuramoto / Yukiko Takahata (JPN) – 67010
9  Gabriela Stoeva / Stefani Stoeva (BUL) – 65210  *
10  Shiho Tanaka / Koharu Yonemoto (JPN) – 65120
11  Du Yue / Li Yinhui (CHN) – 63280

Men’s doubles

A few hours after Mastutomo/Takahashi stepped on court to claim their berth in the World Tour Finals in place of their team-mates, the same formality saw another Japanese pair cede a spot in the men’s doubles final eight.  Like Nishimoto, Kamura/Sonoda could have clinched a spot if they had been able to win the final in Hong Kong.  Unlike their singles counterpart, Japan’s top doubles pair was left hoping that one of two pairs would not show up for their first round match in India, as that was the only eventuality that would keep them in the running for Guangzhou.

Moving into 6th and 7th spot respectively with their first round appearances are Kim Astrup / Anders Skaarup Rasmussen and Hiroyuki Endo / Yuta Watanabe (pictured).  Endo and Watanabe were the only ones among the 3 pairs who confirmed their Guangzhou berths on Wednesday and actually finished their match.  With their quick loss to Russia’s Grachev/Kotsarenko, Watanabe becomes the only double qualifier at this year’s Finals.

1  Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA) – 108400
2  Chen Hung Ling / Wang Chi Lin (TPE) – 80410
3  Liao Min Chun / Su Cheng Heng (TPE) – 77120
4  Han Chengkai / Zhou Haodong (CHN) – 74340
5  Anders Skaarup Rasmussen / Kim Astrup Sorensen (DEN) – 68920
6  Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (INA) – 67900
7  Hiroyuki Endo / Yuta Watanabe (JPN) – 67890

8  Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (JPN) – 67600
9  Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (CHN) – 64800

In the above analysis, I am using a conservative definition of ‘clinch’ – marked on the table in bold purple, highlighted in green – 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.

I have shown in bold purple the 8 players and pairs who would qualify were the tour to end after the Syed Modi first round.  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 a † if a player or pair entered the Syed Modi Super 300 event this week and an asterisk (*) denotes a player who is playing in the Scottish Open.  The numbers are based on calculations to include points earned from the Hong Kong Open but the official Race to Guangzhou 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 @