CHINA OPEN 2011 Preview – High spirits as season draws to a close

As the year draws to an end, so too does the 2011 OSIM BWF Super Series season.  The Li Ning 2011 Premier Super Series is the second last Super Series event.  Much is at stake, as players flock to Shanghai for various reasons.  Several players are looking to gain more points to book a place for the Olympics games.  However, many will be there to fight for glory, as it is a prestigious event.  Playing in front their home crowd, the battalion of Chinese players will be in full strength to battle for a clean sweep in all five disciplines for a second consecutive week.

By Adrian Kok, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

Men’s Singles

As the current reigning champion, expectations will be high for Chen Long (pictured left) to retain the title.  Chen will be up against Hsueh Hsuan Yi of Taiwan in the first round.  He is also drawn in the same half as Taufik Hidayat, Peter Gade and the late bloomer – Sho Sasaki.  All of them have the ability to deny him a championship.

In the upper half of the draw, the current World Champion Lin Dan will be playing against Kenichi Tago.  Tago, ranked 16th in the world, will have a chance at a proper match with Lin, after the Chinese legend retired from their semi-final match during last month’s French Open, giving Tago a ticket to the finals.  Both players are in the same half with their arch-nemesis and the current world number one, Lee Chong Wei, who faced Lin and Tago consecutively in his last two All England final victories.

First round men’s singles matches of note:
Peter Gade (DEN) [4] vs. Shon Wan Ho (KOR)
Nguyen Tien Minh (VIE) [7] vs. Tommy Sugiarto (INA)
Marc Zwiebler (GER) vs. Pablo Abian (ESP)

Women’s Singles

It seems that China will continue its dominance in the women’s singles category.  The three “Wangs” – Shixian, Yihan and Xin – are ranked first to third respectively.  However, players like Saina Nehwal, Tine Baun and Juliane Schenk (pictured right) have the ability to stop the trio from getting to the finals.

Juliane will face Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong in the first round.  Based on statistics, Juliane should not have a problem with Pui Yin as the head-to-head record favours the German. Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand, winner of three consecutive World Junior Championship titles, will meet Eriko Hirose of Japan in the first round.  These two players have never met each other before but it is always interesting to watch this phenomenal junior player taken on an experienced veteran.

First round women’s singles matches of note:
Juliane Schenk (GER) [6] vs. Yip Pui Yin (HKG)
Cheng Shao Chieh [8] (TPE) vs. Liu Xin (CHN) [3]
Eriko Hirose (JPN) vs. Ratchanok Intanon (THA)

Men’s Doubles

Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung (pictured left) are the current titleholders for this event.  Last year they defeated Chai Biao and Zhang Nan in the finals.  Naoki Kawamae and Shoji Sato from Japan will be the first pair that the Koreans will meet.  Previously they have met once and the head to head favours the Korean pair.

The Koreans were the only non-Chinese pair featured in the finals last year and although their streak of both Super Series finals and of victories over Cai/Fu was snapped in Hong Kong on Sunday, they still have a string of three titles in Shanghai that they will be fighting to extend.

Jung/Lee’s team-mates Ko Sung Hyun and Yoo Yeon Seong, who are 4th seeds, will also be facing a Japanese pair of Yoshiteru Hirobe and Kenta Kazuno.  The Japanese pair’s progress was halted by Jung and Lee in both the Denmark and French Opens.

First round men’s doubles matches of note:
Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (DEN) [3] vs. Howard Bach / Tony Gunawan (USA)
Chai Biao / Guo Zhendong (CHN) [7] vs. Fang Chieh Min / Lee Sheng Mu (TPE)
Tao Jiaming / Zhang Nan (CHN) vs. Angga Pratama / Ryan Agung Saputra (INA)

Mixed Doubles

The current World Champion silver medallists Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier (pictured right) will face the pair from India, Diju V. and Jwala Gutta.  Since the World Championships, Chris and Imogen have find it hard to get back to the form that took them to the final in Wembley.  The English/Scottish combination will have to double their efforts to collect the required points to reserve a spot for the Olympic Games.  The number one choice to win the title will once again be the Chinese pair of Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei and coupled with their usual desire for victory will be their need for redress after losing to their compatriots last year.  Their first round match against Muhammad Rijal and Debby Susanto of Indonesian should be a smooth hurdle for them.

First round mixed doubles matches of note:
Chen Hung Ling / Cheng Wen Hsing (TPE) [5] vs. Nova Widianto / Vita Marissa (INA)
Chris Adcock (ENG) / Imogen Bankier (SCO) vs. Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (MAS)
Maneepong Jongjit / Savitree Amitapai (THA) vs. Nathan Robertson / Jenny Wallwork (ENG)

Women’s doubles

Of late, women’s doubles has been drearily predictable.  The 2011 OSIM Super Series season seems destined to finish just as it began, with Tian/Zhao and Wang/Yu steamrolling into the finals, leaving everyone else in their wake.

One advantage the could have over next month’s OSIM Super Series Finals, however, is that there will be two tough, young Chinese pairs to inject a little badly-needed variety.  China Masters champions Tang/Xia and Japan Open winner Bao Yixin (pictured left), now paired with Xie Jing, may just be able to succeed where the outside world’s women’s doubles pairs have not, in troubling the top two seeds.  Along the way, of course, they are sure to accumulate their own trail of casualties among visiting partnerships.

First round women’s doubles matches of note:
Mizuki Fujii / Reika Kakiiwa (JPN) [3] vs. Chin Eei Hui / Wong Pei Tty (MAS)
Ha Jung Eun / Kim Min Jung (KOR) [4] vs. Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN)
Meiliana Jauhari / Greysia Polii (INA) [8] vs. Cheng Shu / Pan Pan (CHN)

Click here for the complete draws for the 2011 Li Ning China Open Premier Super Series

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