The cheers for Denmark’s Thomas Cup victory haven’t yet subsided, but Viktor Axelsen is already steeling himself for another big test – the BCA Indonesia Open that begins tomorrow.
The Dane, who starred in his country’s maiden Thomas Cup-winning effort that culminated last Sunday, had yet to shake off the toll of the effort and subsequent trans-continental travel as he seeks his first Indonesia Open title.
“I went back to Denmark after we won the Thomas Cup,” said Axelsen. “I’ve been sick for a few days. It’s better now… I haven’t seen the draw. I know I’m supposed to play a qualifier. I hope to do better than in the past. The fans here are energetic and passionate about badminton. I hope I can keep my seeding and make the semi-finals.”
Following the various continental championships and the TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals in April and May, the MetLife BWF World Superseries season will be reignited in Jakarta this week. While the focus of the players will be set on the task at hand, the points accumulated at the Superseries will count towards an event that has quickly established itself among the elite ones on the circuit – the Dubai World Superseries Finals in December.
Axelsen is currently third in the Destination Dubai Rankings, behind two Chinese – Yonex All England winner Lin Dan and Tian Houwei, and is followed by Korea’s Son Wan Ho, fellow-Danes Jan O Jorgensen and Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, World champion Chen Long, Germany’s Marc Zwiebler and Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei in tenth.
Points gained in Indonesia will also count towards the seeding of competitors at the Rio Olympics. This year, consequently, there’s a lot at stake, conceded second seed Lee Chong Wei, who will be in the hunt for his sixth title: “I had only one week to prepare, but this competition is important for us as it will count in the seeding for Rio. I hope I can win it again. This might be my last Indonesia Open.”
Close on Lee’s heels in the Destination Dubai Rankings are Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto and Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long. China’s Xue Song (No.13), Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie and Sony Dwi Kuncoro are further behind.
Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, thanks to her hat-trick of Superseries titles, has a huge lead over the rest of the field in the Destination Dubai Rankings. The Thai has accumulated 35,450 points, over 11,000 above her nearest rival, Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying.
China’s Wang Shixian, India’s Saina Nehwal, Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk and Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara – the only other Superseries winner this year – occupy the subsequent spots. World champion Carolina Marin (Spain), Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun, China’s Li Xuerui and India’s PV Sindhu are the others in the top ten, followed closely by China’s Wang Yihan and Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi.
Celcom Axiata Malaysia Open winners Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang (Korea) lead the standings in Men’s Doubles. Not far behind are China’s Chai Biao/Hong Wei. The Chinese pair, not seen in action during their country’s Thomas Cup campaign, will be back in action at the Indonesia Open.
Malaysia’s Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong, Korea’s Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong, Indonesia’s Angga Pratama/Ricky Karanda Suwardi and OUE Singapore Open winners Zhang Nan/Fu Haifeng (China) are next in the Destination Dubai Rankings. Yonex-Sunrise India Open winners Markus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukalmuljo (Indonesia), Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Shin Baek Choel, Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa and Denmark’s Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding are the others in the top ten.
Olympic and World champions Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei, rather surprisingly, haven’t yet won a tournament this season. The Chinese haven’t struck peak form in recent months, and find themselves in eighth spot in the Destination Dubai Rankings.
The list is led by Japan’s Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi, winners at the Yonex All England and the India Open.
Indonesia’s Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari, champions in Singapore, are in second spot. Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan and China’s Yu Yang/Tang Yuanting occupy the next two places, followed by Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao (Japan), Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan (China), Shizuka Matsuo/Mami Naito (Japan), Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei (China), Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee (Korea) and Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Denmark).
Singapore Open champions Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na (Korea) head the field with 25,990 points, just ahead of Indonesia’s Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (23,470) in second. Last year’s Yonex Open Japan winners Joachim Fischer-Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen (Denmark), Dubai World Superseries Finals champions Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock (England) and All England winners Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto (Indonesia) occupy the top five spots.
Next in line are India Open winners Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong (China), Xu Chen/Ma Jin (China), Shin Baek Choel/Chae Yoo Jung (Korea), Kenta Kazuno/Ayane Kurihara (Japan) and Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei (China). The next three pairs are also Chinese: Liu Yuchen/Tang Jinhua, Wang Yilyu/Chen Qingchen and Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin.