ALL ENGLAND 2015 Day 1 – The heat is on Birmingham

The first day of play in Birmingham was completed with some really high-level matches for what is now the first major tournament of the year after the change of schedule […]

The first day of play in Birmingham was completed with some really high-level matches for what is now the first major tournament of the year after the change of schedule in the BWF calendar. It was tough to get a ticket to the main draw on Tuesday in the newly called Barclaycard Arena, formerly known as the National Indoor Arena.

By Raphael Sachetat, live from Birmingham.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Simon Santoso. Boonsak Ponsana. Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka. Ashwini Ponnappa. These are just some of the names that spectators of the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham saw fight to get their spots in the main draw – names that are amongst the best known figures in the badminton world.

But it gets tougher and tougher to remain in the top 28 in the world and these great champions learnt it at their own expense as they had to go through qualifying stage. Especially Simon Santoso (photo), the only men’s singles player from Indonesia who won a title last year, in Singapore. It was a bad start for his 2015 as he choked on his compatriot Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka in the second round of the qualifying stage 21-14, 21-17. Rumbaka had a tough day with Malaysia’s sole representative in the category, who pushed him to three games that same morning 18-21, 21-15, 21-18 in 59 minutes.

Another favourite bit the dust in the name of Singapore’s Derek Wong, the Commonwealth Games silver medallist from last summer not too far from here – in Glasgow. But the Singaporean had not been lucky with the draw – he was meant to meet Boonsak Ponsana (pictured), who just dropped out of the top 25 and who will look after points to start off his Olympic qualifying race in the best conditions. He is set to play Japan’s Kenichi Tago, who took some time to come and watch his future opponent yesterday together with his team mates.

Lin Dan: is special

Another great legend mentioned about his will to grab good points in this tournament. Lin Dan (pictured below before receiving his new racket from Yonex President Ben Yoneyama), who was at a press conference with two other legends of badminton – Taufik Hidayat and Peter Gade (feature to come soon on Badzine) – made it clear that he was not here just to play second role.

“The Yonex All England is important for me. It is like a mini World Championships and it means a lot to me to be here and I will definitely try to win my 6th title here. I also want to get as many points as I can. I want to try to play in my fourth Olympics – this is not something unusual to be able to represent my country 4 times in an Olympic Games and I want to make the best of it,” said the two-time Olympic champion with a smile.

Lin Dan will be taking on Wei Nan from Hong Kong before a potential clash with his younger compatriot Tian Houwei – should the latter go past India’s in-form Ajay Jayaram, who beat his compatriot Anand Pawar quite easily last night. India’s Ashwini Ponnappa (pictured below) wasn’t as lucky as Jayaram as her partnership with India’s league club partner Vladimir Ivanov didn’t end the way she had hoped – the Russian giant called the Referee halfway into the match to mention pain in his right shoulder. The tournament doctor came to check on Ivanov but after few minutes, his head nods meant that that was it for the duo, who had to withdraw after winning the first game, letting their main draw ticket go to England’s Coles and Brown.

The setup is as beautiful as ever in the former NIA, with familiar faces all around the place, with a few new things apart from the re-branding: new speaker as well as a newly designed Court #1 with LED lights changing boards along the day.

All results here

Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.