MALAYSIA OPEN 2011 Preview – History maker

Lee Chong Wei’s name is recorded in the history books as the first and only player to win the BWF Super Series Finals three consecutive times.  Now the question is: […]

Lee Chong Wei’s name is recorded in the history books as the first and only player to win the BWF Super Series Finals three consecutive times.  Now the question is: will he be the first Malaysian to win the men’s singles title for the 7th time?

By Adrian Kok, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

The 2011 edition of Malaysia Open has made it in the history books as it is the first time ever that this event is offering USD 400,000 as the prize money. On that note, players from all around the world will be eager to participate in this BWF Super Series event.

Men’s Singles

There was a lot of speculation on whether Misbun Sidek’s resignation will affect Lee Chong Wei’s (pictured top) performance in the BWF Super Series Finals.  Lee proved a lot of people wrong, showing that he can still perform even under the pressure of his “Guru” leaving by winning the BWF Super Series Finals. However, there is still a lot of work ahead of him.

If it all goes well, Lee will meet his arch nemesis Lin Dan in the semi-finals, where the Chinese legend will be going all out to make it difficult for Lee and take his first ever Malaysia Open title.  Lin will likely have to play two tough compatriots before he gets a shot at Lee, however, including a likely match against Wang Zhengming, if the youngster makes it through qualifying – followed by one against Chen Long (pictured), unless Hafiz Hashim can find some of his old form when he plays the China Open champion in the first round.

Boonsak Ponsana and Chen Jin are in the other half of the draw but they have to fight their way to the quarter-finals before they can set up a game with each other.

First round men’s singles matches of note:
Chen Long (CHN) [3] vs. Muhammad Hafiz Hashim (MAS)
Taufik Hidayat (INA) [2] vs. Park Sung Hwan (KOR)
Bao Chunlai (CHN) [7] vs. Tago Kenichi (JPN)
Du Pengyu (CHN) vs. Simon Santoso (INA)
Lin Dan (CHN) [5] vs. Wang Zhengming (CHN) (possible)
Lee Hyun Il (KOR) vs. Alamsyah Yunus (INA) (qualifiers – possible)

Women’s Singles

Thailand’s rising star Ratchanok Intanon will take on Wang Yihan (pictured). Wang has been struggling with her form recently. Wang is unlikely to let her guard down as she is aware of Ratchanok’s ability to beat world class players. This will be the first major tournament for Ratchanok in the year 2011 and she has been making history for herself by winning a few tournaments in 2010 and beating world class players such as Lu Lan, Ella Diehl, Cheng Shao Chieh, and Bae Seung Hee. This will be a proving ground for her and after so many surprises from her last year, might she even make history as the youngest player to win a BWF Super Series event?

First round women’s singles matches of note:
Wang Yihan (CHN) [3] vs. Ratchanok Intanon (THA)
Liu Xin (CHN) vs. Bae Youn Joo (KOR) [6]
Lu Lan (CHN) vs. Wong Mew Choo (MAS)
Eriko Hirose (JPN) vs. Yip Pui Yin (HKG) [7]
Sayaka Sato (JPN) vs. Sung Ji Hyun (KOR)

Men’s Doubles

Malaysian Open 2011 might seem a little boring with the absence of current world number one men’s doubles pair of Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen and Korea’s top pair of Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae.  Indeed, for the first time ever, the Super Series Finals, featuring as they did the top 8 pairs in the world, are a tough act to follow.  However, the presence of Ko Sung Hyun / Yoo Yeon Seong of Korea, Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong (pictured) of Malaysia and rising Indonesian doubles of Mohammed Ahsan / Bona Septano should serve up some terrific badminton action.

Koo and Yoo are in the same half of the draw with the only other player who participated in Taipei, but Chai Biao will be in a possibly even more formidable pairing with veteran Guo Zhendong.  Dark horses in the top half of the draw include Tony Gunawan and Howard Bach of USA and surprise Copenhagen Masters winners Jonas Rasmussen / Mads Conrad-Petersen of Denmark.

First round men’s doubles matches of note:
Kwon Yi Goo / Cho Gun Woo (KOR) vs. Lee Wan Wah / Chan Chong Ming (MAS)

Women’s Doubles

The women’s doubles is once again a story of China, who are sending 3 brand new pairings to go along with the most familiar partnership, the post-World Championship juggernaut of Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang.  Top seeds are, of course, world #1’s Cheng Wen Hsing / Chien Yu Chin (pictured) of Chinese Taipei but they will have their hands full in the quarter-finals with one of the new Chinese duos, facing Du Jing, who will make her first appearance since her Paris victory, this time playing with Pan Pan.   That is, if the Chinese win their first round test against the Commonwealth Games champions.

Second and third seeds Anastasia Russkikh / Petya Nedelcheva and Duang Anong Aroonkesorn / Kunchala Voravichitchaikul respectively will both be hoping to do well in Kuala Lumpur to put their winless performances at the Super Series Finals behind them.  Japan’s top two pairs will take a break after Taipei but they will still be represented by two pairs, including Ayaka Takahashi / Misaki Matsutomo (pictured), who take on the Thais in the first round.

First round women’s doubles matches of note:
Meiliana Jauhari / Greysia Polii (INA) [4]  vs. Shinta Mulia Sari / Yao Lei (SIN)
Chin Eei Hui / Goh Liu Ying (MAS) vs. Ha Jung Eun / Kim Min Jung (KOR)
Du Jing / Pan Pan (CHN) [5] vs. Jwala Gutta / Ashwini Ponnappa (IND)

Mixed Doubles

The top seeds for the mixed doubles category are Thailand’s Sudket Prapakamol & Saralee Thoungthongkam, who recently lost to China’s Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei in the Super Series Finals in Taipei.  They will do their best to get noticed but the real story in the top half of the draw is likely to be the two China vs. Indonesia matchups in the first round.  Tao Jiaming / Tian Qing narrowly missed out on being a second Chinese qualifier for the Super Series Finals and they could perpetrate a China Open rematch with Zhang and Zhao in the finals.

Zhang/Zhao, however, will likely face their first test against Denmark’s Joachim Fischer-Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (pictured) before a likely semi-final against either second seeds Ha/Ko of Korea or compatriots He/Ma.

First round mixed doubles matches of note:
Tao Jiaming / Tian Qing (CHN) [5] vs. Tantowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir (INA)
Vita Marissa / Nova Widianto (INA) [8] vs. Xu Chen / Yu Yang (CHN)

Badzine will be on site all week in Kuala Lumpur to bring you all the action, complete with live photos from Badmintonphoto.

To see the complete draws from the 2011 Proton Malaysia Open Super Series, CLICK HERE

About Adrian Kok