CHINA OPEN 2010 Preview – Europe returns

Exactly four days after Asian Games and almost a month since the 10th leg of the Super Series in France, here comes more action- this time from arguably the Mecca […]

Exactly four days after Asian Games and almost a month since the 10th leg of the Super Series in France, here comes more action- this time from arguably the Mecca of badminton, China!  Having dominated last year’s edition, can China and Korea rule the courts again?  Does Europe have the chops this time to regain a title after a 5-year drought?  Or will there be an upset from the rising talents of Thailand?

By Lee Anne Yabut, Badzine Correspondent.   Photos: Badmintonphoto

Mixed Doubles

With Lee Hyo-Jung’s surprising retirement, there was a question – since her name had not yet disappeared from the draw as of press time – whether there might still be a small chance she would change her mind and finish the year fighting to defend her title, this time with Shin Baek Cheol.   However, the Badminton Korea Association confirmed that Lee will not be going and we will not see the Asian Games gold medallists play in the first round against current number 1 seeds, Thomas Laybourn / Kamilla Rytter Juhl of Denmark.

At the same time, Europe is feisty with its possible dynamic finals match-up between the number one seeds and Poland’s second-seeded Robert Mateusiak / Nadiezda Zieba.  However, things will not be easy for Korea or Europe.  With Thailand’s rising performance and amazing upsets, its insatiable hunger for championship includes back to back tandems of Sudket Prapakamol / Saralee Thounghthongkam and Songphon Anugritayawon / Kunchala Voravichitchaikul.

Europe’s last win was way back in 2005 when Nathan Robertson / Gail Emms took home the championship.  Thailand has now been more assertive in the international arena more than ever while Lee Hyo Jung’s sudden absence puts a strain in Korea’s chances and their top remaining pairs have tricky first round encounters, including Ko/Ha having to face Lita Nurlita and the mighty Markis Kido (pictured above).  With all the issues and situations, who will prevail— will Europe finally reclaim its mixed doubles title, will Thailand succeed or will Korea be able to defend its title 3rd time in a row?

First round matches of note:
Tao Jiaming / Tian Qing (CHN) vs. Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN)
Koo Kien Keat / Chin Eei Hui (MAS) vs. Yoo Yeon Seong / Kim Min Jung (KOR)
Lee Sheng Mu / Chien Yu Chin (TPE) vs. Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (MAS)
Markis Kido / Lita Nurlita (INA) vs. Ko Sung Hyun / Ha Jung Eun (KOR)

Women’s Doubles

What will happen to Korea now that Lee Hyo Jung has called it quits? Along with her partner Kim Min Jung, she was supposed to go against Cheng Shu and Zhao Yunlei in the quarter-finals, after which they could have played opposite to whoever wins between Russian pair, Valeria Sorokina and Nina Vislova [3] and reigning champ, Tian Qing with Pan Pan as replacement to old partner, Zhang Yawen.

In contrast, Thailand is getting more aggressive including recent first-time Super Series winners and fourth seeds Duanganong Aroonkesorn and Kunchala Voravichitchaikul (photo) in its line-up.  They will most probably be facing Ha Jung Eun and Korea Grand Prix winner Jung Kyung Eun before Chinese Taipei’s top-seeded Cheng Wen Hsing and Chien Yu Chin in the semis.

First round matches of note:

Duanganong Aroonkesorn / Kunchala Voravichitchaikul (THA) vs.  Nan Qiao / Wu Qianqian (CHN)
Ha Jung Eun / Jung Kyung Eun (KOR) vs. Xia Huan / Tang Jinhua (CHN)

Men’s Doubles

With outstanding wins against Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong in Tokyo and Paris, Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng (photo) hope to make a winning streak.  The road to the chance to repeat this is not an easy one though: they must first win against veterans Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan before meeting whoever wins between Robert Blair / Flandy Limpele versus Jonas Rasmussen / Mads Conrad-Petersen.  If that is not enough, they have to face 2-time defending champs Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung, who won their last two meetings in China, before they could meet Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong in the semi-finals.

On the other hand, things seem to be more smooth-sailing for a potential match-up between new world number ones Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen and Indonesia’s Asian Games gold medallists Markis Kido and Hendra Sentiawan in the quarter-finals.  Markis Kido and Setiawan will be itching to reclaim the title they last won in 2007 but it won’t be easy for them though as they might need to go against Chinese pair, Guo Zhendong and Xu Chen in Round 2.

As for Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong, the only challenging contenders expected to go against them would be Ko Sung Hyun and Yoo Yeon Seong, who will be hungry after narrowly missing out on a title at home and confident after beating the Malaysians twice already this year.  Still unless there are surprising upsets, particularly from the Chinese in their quarter, it is most likely the World Championship and Asian Games runners-up will reach the semis safely.

First round matches of note:
Howard Bach / Tony Gunawan (USA) vs.  Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng (CHN) (MD)
Markis Kido / Hendra Setiawan (INA) vs. Chen Hung Ling / Lin Yu Lang (TPE)
Fang Chieh Min / Lee Sheng Mu (TPE) vs. Kwon Yi Goo / Shin Baek Cheol (KOR)

Men’s Singles

After winning Asian Games gold just 10 days ago, Lin Dan (photo) will start the with a formidable front with no Lee Chong Wei or Taufik Hidayat in sight.  Even Peter Gade, who would have been seeded first, is out and has been replaced by Korea’s Lee Hyun Il, himself no slouch.  Lee will most probably be working his magic against Korean Grand Prix champion Bao Chunlai in Round 2 before waiting for either Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand or his own compatriot Jan O Jorgensen in the semis.  Boonsak Ponsana, however, may have to watch out for Du Pengyu who made an astonishing upset against Jan Jorgensen and a near win against another Dane, Joachim Persson, in the French Open.  If the young Chinese can pull another upset, then he will have a rematch against a ready Jan Jorgensen in the quarter-finals.

The only Vietnamese player and SEA Games bronze medallist, Nguyen Tien Minh will most likely be going against World Champion, Chen Jin, in the quarter-finals before the winner meets Lin Dan.  That is, unless Bitburger Open champion Chen Long, longing for a new and bigger title, is able to produce a surprise victory against the recently awarded Asian Games MVP.

First round match of note:
Boonsak Ponsana (THA) vs.  Du Pengyu (CHN)

Women’s Singles

China’s present and former world #1’s, Wang Xin and Wang Yihan, are at the opposite ends of the draw and have to face, respectively, Germany’s Juliane Schenk and Pi Hongyan of France correspondingly in the quarter-finals.  Wang Yihan will be set to meet Pi Hongyan again if Pi beats Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun in round one.

Thailand’s Salakjit Ponsana (photo) may also have a chance to sail to the semis if, immediately in Round 2, she can work against 2-time defending champ Jiang Yanjiao some of the magic she had in Europe earlier this month.  If she wins that ordeal, it may be easier for her to proceed to the semis after playing against Ella Diehl [8] in the quarter-finals.  Only then will she be able to meet the mighty Wang Yihan.  With Ponsana’s remarkable retrieving capabilities witnessed in the French Open, it will be interesting to see whether she can pull off the same fighting stance and charisma on the court.

First round matches of note:
Juliane Schenk (GER) vs. Bae Seung Hee (KOR)
Wang Shixian (CHN) vs. Yip Pui Yin (HKG)
Lu Lan (CHN) vs. Ella Diehl (RUS)
Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) vs. Pi Hongyan (FRA)

For complete draws and results, CLICK HERE

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