DENMARK OPEN 2011 Preview – Big guns for Denmark Open

Over the last couple of years, the Denmark Open – among the most charming of the Super Series events – has had to do without the biggest names in the […]

Over the last couple of years, the – among the most charming of the Super Series events – has had to do without the biggest names in the business. Odense, the town that hosts the event, was unlucky not to see the likes of Lee Chong Wei, Lin Dan, Chen Jin (photo) or the (now-retired) Bao Chunlai in 2009 and 2010. There was Gade, of course, but beyond him, one could only look at the likes of Jan O, Taufik, Santoso, and Marc Zwiebler.

By Dev S Sukumar.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

This year, however, the biggest and best names return to Denmark. At the opposite ends of the men’s draw are the two greats of this era – Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan. Given their famous battles over this decade, and most memorably, in this year’s World Championship final, what wouldn’t one give to see another final between the two?

Odense is famous as the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, and his stamp is evident all around town. The final day of the 2010 event saw a Hans Christian look-alike welcoming spectators at the main entrance, accompanied by little girls dressed in colourful frocks and carrying flowers. Such sights are special, and one hopes it is made even more so on October 23rd with a meeting between the two great rivals. The most impressive thing about Odense is that the town council takes a deep interest in sports and extends a warm welcome to visitors, making this is a memorable and festive experience for everyone.

But Chong Wei will block out the final from his mind and concentrate on his early matches. Up first is P Kashyap, capable on his day of giving the Malaysian an extended workout. Anything beyond that will be a big surprise. Lin Dan faces a qualifier in the first round. Among the more eagerly awaited matches will be local hopeful Viktor Axelsen (photo) – whose school is a short distance from the stadium – against the resurgent Przemyslaw Wacha, and Wang Zhengming against old warhorse Peter Gade. All attention will be on Gade and Axelsen. One is a warrior on the wane; the other is looking to take his place.

Other heavyweights in the draw include Chen Jin, Marc Zwiebler, Taufik Hidayat, defending champ Jorgensen (who plays a qualifier), Chen Long, and Simon Santoso.

Among the women, top seed Wang Yihan (photo) will look to defend her title. The Chinese ace has been in terrific form this year, but she will have to wade through a minefield of a draw. Bae Youn Joo is up first, followed possibly by Eriko Hirose. Tine Baun too is in the top half, but the 2009 winner, who beat Yihan in the final, is unlikely to go that far this time.

A strong Chinese presence – including Jiang Yanjiao, Wang Shixian, Wang Xin, Liu Xin and Li Xuerui – means that in all probability the final will be an all-Chinese one, unless Saina Nehwal or Juliane Schenk manage to hold their form through the week.

Looking at the draws, one can’t help but wonder if it will be a Chinese sweep. After ignoring the Denmark Open the last two years, they have come out in strength. Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang in the women’s doubles, Cai/ Fu in the men’s, and Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei in the mixed head the draws in the doubles events. How one wishes the other nations had more depth!

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