Shuttlers coast or sprint to Superseries Finals

Qualifiers for the Superseries Finals are all but decided in men’s and mixed doubles while in other disciplines, as many as 10 shuttlers are still chasing going into the Hong […]

Qualifiers for the are all but decided in men’s and mixed doubles while in other disciplines, as many as 10 shuttlers are still chasing going into the Hong Kong Open.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

It’s that time of year again and as the ‘regular season’ draws to a close with the start of the Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open, most of the qualifiers are known for the grand finale, the Finals.  This year, there is a whole mix going into the last tournament yielding qualifying points as most players who are still in the running will be in action this week, others have found themselves unable to keep up their fitness this close to the end of the year and may watch from home as their spots get taken by others.  Still others have built up a cushion and are taking the week off before heading down to Kuala Lumpur in December.

Unlike in other years, there are few players who are participating in a whirlwind tour of badminton events prior to the Finals.  Only a few potential qualifiers played in the Bitburger Open, only the Koreans played in the Korean Grand Prix Gold, and in the two weeks between Hong Kong and KL, just six potential qualifiers are entered in the Macau Open and two Thais in the Vietnam Open.  In addition, 6 doubles pairs – including world #3 Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (pictured below) whose places are already secure have withdrawn or were not entered in Hong Kong.

Chinese dominance is much less in evidence this year, given low Superseries participation rates and also changing partnerships.  They are still looking to send two players or pairs in all but men’s doubles but 3 of the 4 singles players currently in the top 8 got there through their performances this past weekend in Shanghai.

On the other hand, the only case this year of a nation having three entries in the top 8 involves Indonesia in the mixed doubles, although Du Pengyu and Wang Yihan could force their way in with strong showings in Hong Kong.

In the following analysis, I am using a conservative definition of ‘clinch’ – marked on the table with an asterisk (*) – 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 and the former be unable to play in the first round in Hong Kong.  In practice, several other players may be safe if one considers that some of the players who could theoretically earn enough points in Hong Kong to pass the top 8 player would have to play each other too early.

I have shown in bold those players and pairs who would qualify were the Superseries to end after the first 11 tournaments and I have shown the first ineligible player or pair in grey, while pairs in the chase group who are not playing in Hong Kong have been omitted from the list and the top 8 pairs inactive this week are in bold italics.

Men’s doubles – down by a delta

After battling their way into the top eight with an impressive runner-up performance in Shanghai, Malaysia’s Hoon Thien How / Tan Wee Kiong (pictured) are not entered in Hong Kong and are thus very likely to slip out of the top eight.  Interestingly, the Malaysians are entered across the Pearl River delta in the nearby Macau Open the following week.

Their fate may well depend on moves by the Korean team.  On one hand, Kim Ki Jung and Kim Sa Rang can clinch the 8th spot merely by showing up for their match on Wednesday and collecting the obligatory 2220 points.  On the other hand, another spot in the top 8 is currently occupied by the now-disbanded Ko Sung Hyun and Lee Yong Dae.  If the Koreans wish to maximize their participation in the Finals, or are forced to under threat of fine by the BWF, then Ko and Lee may well reunite and take part.

Were Kim/Kim to withdraw before their first round match in Hong Kong against Maneepong Jongjit / Nipitphon Puangpuapech of Thailand, then Hoon/Tan would still have a chance but would be theoretically still be ousted by a 9200-point gold medal performance by England’s Adcock/Ellis.  All six remaining spots in men’s doubles have already been clinched.

1  Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa (JPN) – 61850 *
2  Muhammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (INA) – 60970 *
3  Liu Xiaolong / Qiu Zihan (CHN) – 58820 *
4  Ko Sung Hyun / Lee Yong Dae (KOR) – 55610 *
5  Hirokatsu Hashimoto / Noriyasu Hirata (JPN) – 44830 *
6  Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (DEN) – 43190 *
7  Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong (MAS) – 43150 *
8  Hoon Thien How / Tan Wee Kiong (MAS) – 38660

9  Kim Ki Jung / Kim Sa Rang (KOR) – 37930
10  Chris Adcock / Andrew Ellis (ENG) – 30940
11  Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (JPN) – 30530
12  Angga Pratama / Ryan Agung Saputra (INA) – 28700

One spot left in mixed race

Similarly with the mixed doubles, only one spot remains unspoken for, although due to the three Indonesian pairs in the top 8, this is the ninth spot.  Unlike in men’s doubles, however, the two pairs vying for it.  However, current 9th place Sudket Prapakamol / Saralee Thoungthongkam (pictured) of Thailand have a distinct advantage.  By merely showing up for their first round match, they will ensure that Japan’s Kenichi Hayakawa / Misaki Matsutomo will need a tournament victory to qualify.

Indonesia’s second spot is also technically up for grabs as Jordan/Marissa could overtake team-mates Kido/Zebadiah by finishing three rounds ahead of them.

1  Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) – 81250 *
2  Tantowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir (INA) – 68540 *
3  Joachim Fischer-Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) – 54600 *

4  Xu Chen / Ma Jin (CHN) – 52450 *
5  Chris Adcock / Gabrielle White (ENG) – 46610 *
6  Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (MAS) – 46540 *
7  Markis Kido / Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth (INA) – 46210
8  Praveen Jordan / Vita Marissa (INA) – 42920
9  Sudket Prapakamol / Saralee Thoungthongkam (THA) – 41610
10  Kenichi Hayakawa / Misaki Matsutomo (JPN) – 35520
13  Hirokatsu Hashimoto / Miyuki Maeda (JPN) – 31420

Singles still wide open

Men’s singles not only saw the biggest changes at last week’s China Open – where both finalists catapulted into qualifying positions, at least temporarily – but it has by far the biggest chase group.  Only three players have mathematically clinched spots in the top 8, although Tommy Sugiarto can become a fourth by making an appearance on court on Wednesday.

A total of 10 players are an elusive Hong Kong gold medal away from overtaking #8 Chen Long (pictured top), with that number falling to 7 if Chen steps on court on Wednesday against Germany’s Marc Zwiebler (pictured).  An added complication is that among the 10 in the chase pack are two Chinese and two Japanese shuttlers, each of whom would have to pass, and/or stay ahead of, a compatriot in order to qualify for Kuala Lumpur.

1  Lee Chong Wei (MAS) – 74720 *
2  Kenichi Tago (JPN) – 56740 *
3  Jan Jorgensen (DEN) – 51250 *
4  Tommy Sugiarto (INA) – 48170
5  Boonsak Ponsana (THA) – 43990
6  Wang Zhengming (CHN) – 42490
7  Sony Dwi Kuncoro (INA) – 42060
8  Chen Long (CHN) – 40540
9  Hu Yun (HKG) – 39580
10  Takuma Ueda (JPN) – 39190
11  Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (THA) – 38880
12  Du Pengyu (CHN) – 37630
13  Ajay Jayaram (IND) – 36030
14  Sho Sasaki (JPN) – 35120
15  Marc Zwiebler (GER) – 34730
16  Chen Yuekun (CHN) – 33090
17  Kashyap Parupalli (IND) – 31930
18  Nguyen Tien Minh (VIE) – 31750
19  Wong Wing Ki (HKG) – 31200

Women’s singles has a much smaller chase group but also a much flatter point distribution.  Only Wang Shixian has mathematically clinched her spot.  Even current #2 Saina Nehwal (pictured) could theoretically have been passed by the 2nd to 9th shuttlers if it weren’t for four of them playing each other early in Hong Kong.  She and Sung Ji Hyun, though, could clinch just by losing a first round match.

The chase group consists of only four, capable players, Tai Tzu Ying, Juliane Schenk, and Ratchanok Intanon, all of whom stand a very strong chance of overtaking one or all of the bottom three shuttlers.  2011 champion Wang Yihan has a much harder task as she would have to overtake team-mate Li Xuerui, which would take a gold medal unless Li forfeits her first match in Hong Kong.

1  Wang Shixian (CHN) – 54390 *
2  Saina Nehwal (IND) – 50480
3  Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) – 49780
4  Bae Youn Joo (KOR) – 48830
5  Li Xuerui (CHN) – 47590
6  Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (THA) – 47030
7  Minatsu Mitani (JPN) – 45920
8  Eriko Hirose (JPN) – 44780
9  Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) – 44050
10  Juliane Schenk (GER) – 41700
11  Wang Yihan (CHN) – 40650
12  Ratchanok Intanon (THA) – 40000
13  Sayaka Takahashi (JPN) – 34300

The top 6 in women’s doubles have mathematically clinched their qualifying spots.  Of the remaining two, #7 Jung Kyung Eun / Kim Ha Na (pictured) are especially vulnerable given that they have withdrawn from the Hong Kong Open.  Jang/Kim, and home favourites Poon/Tse are both neck-and-neck and each stands a very strong chance of surging into the top 8 under the wire.

1  Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) – 67030
2  Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang (CHN) – 62640
3  Ma Jin / Tang Jinhua (CHN) – 56440
4  Kamilla Rytter Juhl / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) – 54100
5  Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth / Rizki Amelia Pradipta (INA) – 48480
6  Duang Anong Aroonkesorn / Kunchala Voravichitchaikul (THA) – 46030
7  Jung Kyung Eun / Kim Ha Na (KOR) – 39450
8  Reika Kakiiwa / Miyuki Maeda (JPN) – 38170
9  Jang Ye Na / Kim So Young (KOR) – 35890
10  Poon Lok Yan / Tse Ying Suet (HKG) – 35560
11  Nitya Krishinda Maheswari / Gresya Polii (INA) – 34340

Note: The above numbers are based on our own calculations.  The official Superseries rankings should be published this Thursday, with the final lists coming out on November 28th.

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 @