The Adidas China Masters 2013 heralds the resumption of the OSIM BWF World Superseries tour tomorrow after a two-month break.
The last Superseries event was the Li-Ning Singapore Open in mid-June which was followed by an eventful period. First there was the BWF World Championships that saw Indonesia and China win two titles each and thereafter the inaugural Indian Badminton League (IBL). Now the focus shifts to familiar territory once more.
The Adidas China Masters will be a test of sorts for the home team. The Chinese suffered some unexpected losses at the World Championships in Guangzhou and will be keen to make a statement. The draw in all five events has a number of promising Chinese youngsters and this tournament could well throw up some bright prospects for the future.
Given the absence of the biggest non-Chinese name in Men’s Singles – Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei – the top seed is local star, Chen Long (right). A clutch of other Chinese contenders flood the draw, including Du Pengyu (2), Wang Zhengming (7) and Chen Yuekun. Apart from these, other emerging players such as Tian Houwei, Gao Huan, Song Xue, Qiao Bin, and Zhou Wenlong (qualifying) will be eager to impress.
Of the non-Chinese, Indonesians Tommy Sugiarto (4) and Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka and Jan O Jorgensen (Denmark, 6) are expected to figure at the business end of the tournament. Talents like Viktor Axelsen (Denmark), Kasumasa Sakai (Japan), Kento Momota (Japan) and Lee Dong Keun (Korea) will sense a great opportunity to cause upsets, as there should be less pressure on them.
The Women’s Singles too is packed with established and promising Chinese. Leading the way is Olympic champion Li Xuerui (1), who suffered an unexpected loss in the BWF World Championships final. Wang Yihan (3), Wang Shixian (5), Han Li, Yu Sun, Yao Xue, Xuan Deng, Liu Xin and Jiang Yanjiao will also be in the mix.
Among those capable of upsetting the Chinese applecart are newly-crowned World champion Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand, 2; at left), Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei, 6) and Sung Ji Hyun (Korea, 4). Thailand has turned out in full strength in Women’s Singles – Intanon is accompanied by Busanan Ongbumrungpan, Sapsiree Taerattanachai, Porntip Buranaprasertsuk and Nichaon Jindapon; all keen to prove a point or two.
* In Men’s Doubles, the contest is essentially between China and Korea. The Chinese will be led by the legendary Cai Yun/Fu Haifeng (5) and All England champions Liu Xiaolong/Qiu Zihan (4), while the Koreans will look to top seeds Lee Yong Dae/Ko Sung Hyun (centre below); Kim Ki Jung/Kim Sa Rang (3) and Shin Baek Choel/Yoo Yeon Seong (6) to challenge the hosts. Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa (2) are the other likely contenders.
* The prominent pair missing in the Women’s Doubles draw is World Championships silver medallists Eom Hye Won/Jang Ye Na (Korea). Their compatriots, Jang Ye Na and Kim So Young, will play together. World champions Yu Yang/Wang Xiaoli are favourites but a number of other Chinese pairs –Bao Yixin/Zhong Qianxin (5), Cheng Shu/Zhao Yunlei or Ma Jin/Tang Jinhua (2) – could thwart them. Japan’s Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (3) may also be in the reckoning.
* The Mixed Doubles will see former Olympic champion Lee Yong Dae (Korea) in a new partnership with Shin Seung Chan and attempting to qualify. World champions Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia are missing so the favourites are Olympic champions Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei (2) and Xu Chen/Ma Jin (1), both of China. Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na (Korea, 5) – who beat Zhang/Zhao in the Badminton Asia Championships final – could spoil things for the hosts. Other pairs, such as Kim Ki Jung/Kim So Young and Yoo Yeon Seong/Eom Hye Won (both Korea), Anders Kristiansen/Julie Houmann (Denmark, 8), and Kenichi Hayakawa/Misaki Matsutomo (Japan) could prove a handful for their more fancied rivals.
Text by Dev Sukumar | Badmintonphoto