After months of traversing the world, the 12-event strong MetLife BWF World Superseries circuit of 2015 has reached its last leg in Hong Kong.
When the main draw of the Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open begins tomorrow, it will present many players the last opportunity to either consolidate their season, or to redeem themselves. For the elite level, it will mean their last shot at qualifying for the season-ending Dubai World Superseries Finals next month.
In Men’s Singles, players just outside the top-eight, such as Tommy Sugiarto (Indonesia, 10); Hu Yun (Hong Kong, 11); Wang Zhengming (China, 12); Wei Nan (Hong Kong, 13) and Rajiv Ouseph (England; 14), have a shot at qualifying, but that will depend not only on their own performances, but that of players ranked above them.
The top half of the draw has the three heavyweights – Chen Long (China, 1); Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia) and Lin Dan (China, 3). After the fireworks in Fuzhou, where Lee trumped both Lin and Chen, fans will breathlessly await the quarter-finals, where a rematch of Lee and Chen is expected.
But their progress in the draw can hardly be taken for granted. Lee runs into Tommy Sugiarto (featured image) in his opener, while Lin has drawn young Indonesian Ihsan Maulana Mustofa.
Second seed Jan O Jorgensen also has a tough opening opponent in Wang Zhengming, while India’s Kidambi Srikanth, semi-finalist here last year, will hope to reverse a 0-4 record against China’s Tian Houwei.
Defending champion Son Wan Ho (Korea), who unexpectedly beat World champion Chen Long in the final last year, is in
Srikanth and Jorgensen’s quarter. He will face Japan’s Kenichi Tago, who won his first match in five months, qualifying past Wang Tzu Wei (Chinese Taipei) and Alistair Casey (Scotland).
Women’s Singles saw the withdrawal of second seed Saina Nehwal (India) due to injury. Top seed Carolina Marin (Spain), who’s in second place on the Destination Dubai Rankings, has a tough opener against India’s PV Sindhu.
China’s Li Xuerui, who made a strong comeback in the latter half of the season, is in fifth spot but behind compatriots Wang Shixian (1) and Wang Yihan (3). With only two players per country allowed to compete in Dubai, Li will hope for another exceptional performance here to overtake her compatriots. The China Open champion faces a tricky opponent in Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara, who is seventh in the rankings and still unsure of qualifying.
Defending champion Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei) is also on the borderline to make the Dubai trip, at No.8. Last year’s Dubai champion takes on Korea’s Bae Yeon Ju in the first round and might have to deal with either Li Xuerui or Okuhara in the quarter-finals if she progresses.
Those with a strong chance of making it to Dubai include Sung Ji Hyun (Korea, 9); Akane Yamaguchi (Japan, 10); Sun Yu (China, 11) and Minatsu Mitani (Japan, 12).
Eyes on Kim & Kim
Thaihot China Open champions Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang (Korea), No.9 in the Destination Dubai Rankings, might back themselves for a good run in Hong Kong, as they face qualifiers Dick Chan/Ho Wai Lun (Hong Kong) in their opener. If their form holds, they can expect to be in the quarter-finals facing defending champions Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan (Indonesia), who are still seeking momentum post their World Championships victory.
Others the reckoning for Dubai are Lee Sheng Mu/Tsai Chia Hsin (Chinese Taipei, 8); Angga Pratama/Ricky Karanda Suwardi (Indonesia, 10) and Liu Xiaolong/Qiu Zihan (China, 11).
Strong Chinese Presence
Four strong pairs lead the Chinese challenge in Women’s Doubles – defending champions Zhao Yunlei/Tian Qing, Luo Ying/Luo Yu, China Open champions Tang Yuanting/Yu Yang and Tang Jinhua/Zhong Qianxin.
However, given that the Chinese experimented with different combinations all year, only the Luo twins will be headed to Dubai on the basis of accumulated ranking points, for the next highest ranked Chinese combination is Ma Jin/Tang Yuanting at No.9.
Those outside the top eight, such as Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa (India, 11) and Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan (Korea, 14) still have a chance at making it to Dubai.
Ko/Kim on Top
Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Ha Na continue to occupy the top spot in the Destination Dubai Rankings. The Koreans have a relatively comfortable draw and should be able to make the quarter-finals.
Top seeds Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei, who have had another outstanding year, return to defend their title, and might expect to face Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto in the quarter-finals. There are four Chinese pairs in the top seven, with a tussle expected between Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin (4), Xu Chen/Ma Jin (6) and Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong to accompany Zhang/Zhao to Dubai.
Among the other pairs who can make the cut would be Hong Kong’s Lee Chun Hei/Chau Hoi Wah and Chan Yun Lung/Tse Ying Suet.
Men’s Singles: Kenichi Tago, Kenta Nishimoto, Kazumasa Sakai (all Japan), Anthony Ginting (Indonesia)
Women’s Singles: Tsang Wing Chiu, Yeung Sum Yee, Cheung Ying Mei (all Hong Kong), Chen Hsiao Huan (Chinese Taipei)
Men’s Doubles: Chan Tsz Kit/Law Cheuk Him, Yonny Chung/Li Kuen Hon, Or Chin Chung/Tang Chun Man, Dick Chan/Ho Wai Lun (all Hong Kong)
Women’s Doubles: Cheung Ying Mei/Tsang Wing Chiu; Ng Tsz Yau/Yeung Nga Ting (Hong Kong); Chen Hsiao Huan/Huang Mei Ching (Chinese Taipei); Tang Yuanting/Yu Yang (China)
Mixed Doubles: Law Cheuk Him/Yuen Sin Ying; Or Chin Chung/Chan Tsz Ka (Hong Kong); Wu Hsiao-Lin/Hsieh Pei Chen (Chinese Taipei); Parinyawat Thongnuam/Natcha Saengchote (Thailand)