8 spots clinched for Dubai

New standing leaders Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Ha Na were among the 8 players or pairs who clinched their tickets to the BWF World Superseries Finals in Dubai just […]

New standing leaders Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Ha Na were among the 8 players or pairs who clinched their tickets to the BWF World in Dubai just before the tour began its two-week break ahead of the final leg in Asia.

Photos: Badmintonphoto

The race to qualify for the Dubai is entering the homestretch and while in realistic terms, the majority of qualifiers have already been decided, there are some vulnerable people in the bottom of the top 8 in each discipline, as well as some real long shots who could sneak in at the last minute.

Qualifying for Dubai is of particular importance for many shuttlers given that this is the Olympic qualifying period.  For the title contenders, it’s another opportunity to scoop 11,000 points from a victory in the UAE.  Even for those not so lucky, the Superseries Finals offer a minimum of 4320 points toward Rio qualifying and the chance at more with a win or two.

The ones keenest to make the most of the opportunity in December will be those from strong nations who are looking to reach or stay in the world’s top 16 or top 8, in order to be eligible for a second Olympic berth in singles and doubles respectively.  At the moment, the Superseries top 8 include pairs from Denmark, China, Korea, and Japan who are still outside the top 8 in the Race to Rio standings, which include points earned within the Rio qualifying period.  Factor in the chase packs in all five disciplines, and you are looking at a lot of shuttlers with something to gain at the end of the 2015 season.

Let’s take a look at the current standings for each discipline coming out of the 2015 French Open.  Six doubles pairs mathematically clinched their spots in the Superseries Finals either through their results in Paris or from their pursuers losing early, or both.  An additional four pairs and one singles player can guarantee their participation in the season-ender merely by showing up for first round matches in China and Hong Kong.

In the following analysis, I am using a conservative definition of ‘clinch’ – marked on the table in bold italics – 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 China or 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 the last two tournaments to pass the top 8 player would have to play each other too early.

I have shown in bold the 8 players and pairs who would qualify were the Superseries to end after the first 10 tournaments.  I have shown in grey the players or pairs who cannot catch one of the current 8 qualifiers or who cannot catch two qualified compatriots.  Finally, I have marked with one or two x’s, those who will be inactive at the China and/or Hong Kong Opens. An asterisk (*) denotes a player who can only qualify by beating out a currently qualified compatriot.  These x’s reflect the latest official participation lists and do not include those reported in the news but not reflected in BWF draws.  The numbers are based on calculations to include points earned from the French Open but the official Superseries standings will be available later in the week from the BWF website.

Mixed Doubles

Mixed was the first discipline to see a pair clinch a spot for Dubai.  It was also the only discipline that got a new series leader after the French Open.  In fact, it was the victory back on Tuesday by Fischer Nielsen/Pedersen over Chan/Tse of Hong Kong that ensured that the Danes would be in the top 8 at the end of the season, along with Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na (pictured top) and Natsir/Ahmad.

Ko/Kim, of course, also did well enough to move to the top of the table, bumping out Zhang/Zhao, who were no-shows in Paris.  The pair by far in the most vulnerable position is Lee Chun Hei / Chau Hoi Wah of Hong Kong.  However, even they are nearly 6,000 points over their compatriots Chan Yun Lung / Tse Ying Suet (pictured), who are in turn the only serious threat in the chase pack.

The two Hong Kong pairs, along with the Japanese, Korean, and Indonesian pairs in the chase pack, are the ones with the most to gain from a boost in ranking points as their chances of making the top eight by early May are quite tenuous.

The same need to be in the world’s top 8 in May applies to Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong.  They are currently only 11th in the Race to Rio table.  The 3rd and 4th Chinese pairs in the Superseries top 8, meanwhile, are the reason why neither Zhang/Zhao nor Liu/Bao can be considered to have clinched their Dubai ticket, even though they have more points that the Danes.  They can still be caught by either of the other Chinese pairs, while the others need only be concerned about threats from outside the current top ten.

1  Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na (KOR) – 62650
2  Tantowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir (INA) – 62000

3  Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) – 61870 [World Champion]
4  Liu Cheng / Bao Yixin (CHN) – 57890
5  Joachim Fischer-Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN) – 54790 x

6  Xu Chen / Ma Jin (CHN) – 54200
7  Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) – 53970
8  Chris Adcock / Gabrielle Adcock (ENG) – 52160
9  Praveen Jordan / Debby Susanto (INA) – 46240
10  Lee Chun Hei / Chau Hoi Wah (HKG) – 38400

11  Chan Yun Lung /  Tse Ying Suet (HKG) – 32800
12  Kenichi Hayakawa / Misaki Matsutomo (JPN) – 28420
13  Edi Subaktiar / Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja (INA) – 27980 *
14  Keigo Sonoda / Naoko Fukuman (JPN) – 27760
15  Jacco Arends / Selena Piek  (NED) – 24220
16  Kim Ki Jung / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) – 23840
17  Riky Widianto / Puspita Richi Dili (INA) – 22560 x
18  Shin Baek Cheol / Chae Yoo Jung (KOR) – 21790
19  Mads Pieler Kolding / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN) – 21460 xx
20  Choi Sol Gyu / Eom Hye Won (KOR) – 20340
21  Lee Yong Dae / Lee So Hee (KOR) – 18340
22  Phillip Chew / Jamie Subandhi (USA) – 18240  x

Men’s Doubles

One of the most hotly contested races is bound to be the men’s doubles.  Lee Sheng Mu and Tsai Chia Hsin of Chinese Taipei found their lead whittled down to a mere 100 points over Korea’s Kim/Kim, with Angga Pratama / Ricky Karanda Suwardi (pictured below) nipping in turn at the Koreans’ heels.

While Lee and Tsai have little to fear in terms of their ticket to Rio, the Koreans and Indonesians are in dire need of the points to get them into the world’s top 8 so they can be their country’s second pair in Rio.  Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol were the last-minute additions last year but this time around, they are a whopping 8,000 points adrift and would need a near-miracle to get Shin back on the plane to the Emirates.

World Championship runners-up Liu/Qiu are not far behind the key cluster of pairs but they can only earn the right to represent China if they can make up 10,000 points on Chai/Hong.  Meanwhile, Skaarup Rasmussen/Astrup Sorensen are not only far out of the top 8, but they are among the many shuttlers whose only chance at going to Dubai lies in the technical possibility that someone – in their case the two Madses – withdraws from the last two events.

Far removed from the scramble for the last few spots, men’s doubles leader Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong head to China with a far greater margin over the #2 pair, Fu Haifeng / Zhang Nan (pictured above) than do leaders in any other discipline.

1  Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) – 72550
2  Fu Haifeng / Zhang Nan (CHN) – 61160

3  Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa (JPN) – 57120
4  Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (DEN) – 53930
5  Muhammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (INA) – 52480 [World Champion]
6  Mads Conrad Petersen / Mads Pieler Kolding (DEN) – 49060
7  Chai Biao / Hong Wei (CHN) – 48070
8  Lee Sheng Mu / Tsai Chia Hsin (TPE) – 40800

9  Kim Ki Jung / Kim Sa Rang (KOR) – 40700
10  Angga Pratama / Ricky Karanda Suwardi (INA) – 40170
11  Liu Xiaolong / Qiu Zihan (CHN) – 38930 *
12  Hirokatsu Hashimoto / Noriyasu Hirata (JPN) – 33960
13  Vladimir Ivanov / Ivan Sozonov (RUS) – 32930 x
14  Ko Sung Hyun / Shin Baek Cheol (KOR) – 32600
15  Goh V. Shem / Tan Wee Kiong (MAS) – 32020
16  Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (JPN) – 30170
17  Chen Hung Ling / Wang Chi Lin (TPE) – 30080
18  Anders Skaarup Rasmussen / Kim Astrup Sorensen (DEN) – 29760 *
19  Wahyu Nayaka Arya Pankaryanira / Ade Yusuf (INA) – 25830 x

Women’s Doubles

Women’s doubles underwent a few changes in Paris.  Go Ah Ra and Yoo Hae Won (pictured) took their rightful spot in the top 8, finally ousting the disbanded pair of Ma/Tang.  The Koreans did have a pair of compatriots breathing down their necks for a while but when Jung/Shin were stopped in the French Open semi-finals, it left Gutta/Ponnappa as the pair with by far the best chance of sneaking into Dubai under the wire.

Several early contests at the China Open could be a factor in determining the final standings.  Jung and Shin begin their campaign against the brand new Chinese pair of Huang Yaqiong and Wang Xiaoli.  Then the two pairs at the very front of the chase pack, Naoko Fukuman / Kurumi Yonao and Jwala Gutta / Ashwini Ponnappa, will also face off in the first round.

Luo Ying (pictured below) and twin sister Luo Yu clinched their ticket to Dubai in Paris and they will soon be joined by Pedersen/Rytter Juhl and Maheswari/Polii the moment these pairs step on court in China.  Way down at #27, Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei still have an outside chance if they can produce two consecutive wins to end the season.  Were they to do that, Korea’s Go/Yoo would have to win at least one match to keep the two-time World Champions at bay as far as Dubai qualification is concerned.

Editor’s Note [2015-11-13]: The original version of this article contained an error.  It failed to take into account a new regulation whereby the BWF will grant a wild card to the current World Champion, provided they are ranked within the world’s top 20.  This means that World Champions Tian Qing / Zhao Yunlei will automatically qualify for Dubai, along with what are now the top 7 pairs in the Superseries standings.  Go Ah Ra / Yoo Hae Won are thus still merely leading the chase pack.  This also means that the title is an error, as Tian/Zhao were an 8th pair with a Dubai spot clinched, a number that has since grown much larger.

1 Luo Ying / Luo Yu (CHN) – 56210
2 Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN) – 50090
3 Nitya Krishinda Maheswari / Gresya Polii (INA) – 49810
4 Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) – 44580
5 Reika Kakiiwa / Miyuki Maeda (JPN) – 39950
6 Eefje Muskens / Selena Piek (NED) – 38360
7 Chae Yoo Jung / Kim So Yeong (KOR) – 36500
8 Go Ah Ra / Yoo Hae Won (KOR) – 32020
9 Ma Jin / Tang Yuanting (CHN) – 31860 xx
10 Naoko Fukuman / Kurumi Yonao (JPN) – 31700
11 Jwala Gutta / Ashwini Ponnappa (IND) – 30860
12 Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang (CHN) – 28730 xx
13 Tang Jinhua / Tian Qing (CHN) – 27440 xx
14 Jung Kyung Eun / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) – 26060 *
15 Hsu Ya Ching / Pai Yu Po (TPE) – 24860
16 Isabel Herttrich / Birgit Michels (GER) – 23730 x
17 Jang Ye Na / Jung Kyung Eun (KOR) – 23530 xx
18 Puttita Supajirakul / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA) – 23500
19 Jang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (KOR) – 22490 *
20 Lee So Hee / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) – 22230 xx
21 Ou Dongni / Yu Xiaohan (CHN) – 21940 xx
22 Vivian Hoo / Woon Khe Wei (MAS) – 21070
23 Samantha Barning / Iris Tabeling (NED) – 20460 xx
24 Poon Lok Yan / Tse Ying Suet (HKG) – 20350
25 Johanna Goliszewski / Carla Nelte (GER) – 20060 x
26 Shizuka Matsuo / Mami Naito (JPN) – 17280 x
27 Tian Qing / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) – 17050 [World Champion]

Men’s Singles

Men’s singles has by far the longest list of chasers.  However, for several near the tail end, nothing short of two straight Superseries titles can even keep them in the running.  Even for a player like Son Wan Ho, late-season heroics like he produced in 2014 would not be enough and he would have to depend on some lacklustre performances by half a dozen players ranked above him.

As with the mixed doubles, it is two shuttlers from Hong Kong who are on the cusp of the Dubai qualification set.  Particularly with Kashyap Parupalli having confirmed his withdrawal from the Hong Kong Open, Hu Yun (pictured above with Jan Jorgensen) and Wei Nan are the most credible threats for Sugiarto and Srikanth.  Hu and Wei might even get some benefit from home court advantage in the last event of the Superseries ‘regular season’.

The absence of Kashyap Parupalli (pictured below) from Hong Kong also means that it is now mathematically impossible for seven players to surpass Kento Momota so he becomes the most recent shuttler to clinch a Dubai berth.  Chen Long’s position was safe back on Friday when Tian Houwei lost in the French Open quarter-final, meaning that no more than one Chinese player can catch him.

1 Chen Long (CHN) – 64650 [World Champion]
2 Kento Momota (JPN) – 59170
3 Jan Jorgensen (DEN) – 52490
4 Viktor Axelsen (DEN) – 51890
5 Chou Tien Chen (TPE) – 49130
6 Lin Dan (CHN) – 48040

7 Tian Houwei (CHN) – 43930
8 Kashyap Parupalli (IND) – 40440 x
9 K. Srikanth (IND) – 40060

10 Tommy Sugiarto (INA) – 39870
11 Hu Yun (HKG) – 38660
12 Wang Zhengming (CHN) – 38220 *
13 Wei Nan (HKG) – 34940
14 Rajiv Ouseph (GBR) – 32430 xx
15 H. S. Prannoy (IND) – 30800
16 Hsu Jen Hao (TPE) – 30320
17 Sho Sasaki (JPN) – 29760
18 Wong Wing Ki (HKG) – 29540
19 Son Wan Ho (KOR) – 29260
20 Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka (INA) – 28920
21 Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (DEN) – 28380 xx
22 Lee Dong Keun (KOR) – 26820
23 Marc Zwiebler (GER) – 25780
23 Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (THA) – 25780 x
25 Takuma Ueda (JPN) – 24940
26 Boonsak Ponsana (THA) – 24210
27 Brice Leverdez (FRA) – 23720
28 Ajay Jayaram (IND) – 22040 *
29 Xue Song (CHN) – 21390
30 Ng Ka Long (HKG) – 21360

Women’s Singles

The women’s singles is the only discipline where no one has yet mathematically clinched a spot in the Superseries Finals.  Carolina Marin will take care of that when she begins her first match in either China or Hong Kong but current Superseries leader Wang Shixian is still technically vulnerable to strong finishes by both Wang Yihan and Li Xuerui.

The most precarious positions belong to Tai Tzu Ying (pictured) of Chinese Taipei and Sung Ji Hyun of Korea.  Sung went into the French Open as the leader in the Race to Rio rankings but it is her compatriot Bae Yeon Ju, as well as Tai’s team-mates Pai and Hsu and a trio of Japanese shuttlers, who would most benefit from extra ranking points as they will need to be in the world’s top 16 six months from now if they wish to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.

Akane Yamaguchi of Japan has the best chance of nudging out one of the current top 8, of course, but her team-mates Mitani and Hashimoto are also well within striking distance.  As with the other disciplines, the list of players who are still technically in the race include shuttlers like Canada’s Michelle Li (pictured), for whom even a miracle pair of titles in China and Hong Kong would be insufficient if current #9 Sung Ji Hyun were to play even one match at one of those tournaments.

1  Wang Shixian (CHN) – 62360
2  Carolina Marin (ESP) – 62220  [World Champion]
3  Wang Yihan (CHN) – 53750
4  Saina Nehwal (IND) – 50300

5  Li Xuerui (CHN) – 49150
6  Ratchanok Intanon (THA) – 48670
7  Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) – 47270
8  Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) – 46900
9  Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) – 44390

10  Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) – 42430
11  Sun Yu (CHN) – 39910 x *
12  Minatsu Mitani (JPN) – 37630
13  Yui Hashimoto (JPN) – 36290
14  Bae Yeon Ju (KOR) – 34780
15  Pai Yu Po (TPE) – 31140
16  Yip Pui Yin (HKG) – 28440 x
17  Hsu Ya Ching (TPE) – 28250
18  Busanan Ongbamrungphan (THA) – 27820
19  Maria Febe Kusmastuti (INA) – 25890
20  Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (THA) – 25060
21  Michelle Li (CAN) – 24450 (pictured)
22  P. V. Sindhu (IND) – 22270

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 @ badzine.net