The Breakout Stars of 2011

The Breakout Stars of 2011

2011 seen the emergence of Sho Sasaki, Lee Hyun Il, Simon Santoso and Marc Zwiebler into the top 16 players in the world. 29-year old Sho Sasaki has been grinding away a career that seen him ranked as low as 40 in June of this year after a string of opening round losses to start 2011. He then reached the semi finals in the Indonesian Super Series Premier and followed that with a win in the US Open in July. An excellent run to the last 8 of the world championships boosted his ranking into the top 10 and finishes the year with his highest ever world ranking of 7. A lot is expected of Sasaki in 2012 with impressive victories over Lin Dan and Du Pengyu in 2011 but has to ensure no opening round upsets that marred his 2011 season.

Lee Hyun Il ended his career after the Beijing Olympics, only to be talked back into playing competitively just 20 months ago. Ranked 196th in May of 2010, he has returned to the world’s top 10 going into 2012, winning his last two events of 2011. A former world number 1 in 2004, his return to the top 10 is nothing short of stunning with victories over Chen Jin, Wang Zhengming , Du Pengyu and Simon Santoso confirming his top 10 status. He will benefit in 2012 with being seeded for most of the early Super Series events of the year to bolster his place in the top 10.

Simon Santoso was touted to overtake Taufik Hidayat as Indonesia’s number 1 in the summer after Hidayat’s poor run in the US and Canada Open. He entered the world championships ranked 19th but his run to the semi finals in China and Macau, that featured a victory over Peter Gade seen Santoso become the top ranked Indonesian player and ensured his place in the top 10 in December. His victory over Hidayat in the China Masters saw the passing of the guard to the 26-year old.

Marc Zwiebler has cemented his place as Europe’s number 2 behind Peter Gade, but his double victory over Taufik Hidayat has pushed him into the spotlight. Ranked as high as 11 earlier in the year, he has levelled out within the 15-17 ranking in the later half of the year following his Canada Open success. Big things are expected of Zwiebler in 2012 as he is set to take on the mantle of Europe’s #1 after the Olympics.…

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The European Hopefuls

The European Hopefuls

Pablo Abian, Rajiv Ouseph have been the powerhouses of the EBU circuit, whilst Jan O Jorgensen has been reaching the latter stages of the Super Series towards the end of 2011 after a health scare during the week of the Denmark Open.

Pablo Abian started 2011 just inside the top 50 in the world before taking four titles in the first half of the year, including a victory over Viktor Axelsen in Sweden in January to claim his first title. Opening round defeats in the Denmark and France Open will have to be improved on in 2012 to break into the world’s elite.

Rajiv Ouseph will go to the London Olympics as GB’s only chance of a medal in this event but his success in 2011 has came in Europe, with victories in Ireland and Scotland, choosing to play the European events instead of the Super Series Premier event in China. He goes into 2012 in need of a notable run in a Super Series to boost his confidence ahead of the pressure of performing on home soil after a poor attempt this year in a 21-8, 21-18 defeat to Peter Gade in the opening round of the 2011 world championships.

Jan O Jorgensen is a former top 10 player whose health scare in Denmark forced him into a layoff of 4 weeks that seen him dip to 19 in the rankings. Three quarter final appearances in Super Series events in 2011 will be the very minimum he will need to ensure his place at the Olympics ahead of Viktor Axelsen, as the two battle it out to be Denmark’s number 1 after Gade’s retirement.

However, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus is also a contender in the debate. Ranked outside the top 30 at the start of 2011, the Dane took the Dutch Open title in April to push him into the top 25 and another victory in the Bitburger Open sees him inside the top 20 and finished the year with a close match with Chen Long of China. The performance in the China Open will be one that Vittinghus hopes to emulate throughout 2011 to ensure his name is in the discussion over Denmark’s top men’s singles player.…

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The Asian Contingent

The Asian Contingent

The rarely spoken about Tien Minh Nguyen has been inside the top 10 in the world for almost two years without any major runs in the Super Series, the Vietnamese player earns his ranking points from the GP Gold series of events but did put have a good run at the world championships, eventually losing out to Peter Gade in three games at the quarter final stage. Defeats to Sho Sasaki and Jan O Jorgensen in the latter part of 2011 still raise question marks over Nguyen’s true ability and significance within the rankings.

Park Sung Hwan’s year was cut short with an injury after the world championships. After surgery on his knee in September there was further complications after it was revealed that the Korean had circulation problems in his shoulder but is expected to return to action in the opening months of 2012. He was ranked inside the top 10 before his lay off due to injury.

Boonsak Ponsana is another player in the Tien Minh Nguyen mould in that he was almost discounted as a threat in the opening half of 2011 when he was ranked 6th in the world, mostly due to ranking points gained through the GP Gold series. His quarter final defeat to Lee Chong Wei is the highlight of a poor year for the Thai player that has seen him crash out of the top 10 but surgery has sidelined Ponsana for most of the second half of 2011, with 2012 seeing the Thai player hopefully return to the court.…

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The End Of An Era

The End Of An Era

Regardless of the results in London, Lee Chong Wei and Peter Gade have confirmed their intentions to retire after the Olympics. Lin Dan and Taufik Hidayat likely to follow suit, especially should Lin Dan claim his second Olympic title. Hidayat’s dip in form will likely be a contributing factor especially with his place in London far from guaranteed.

2012 will provide us with the end of an era and the chance to crown a new world number 1 after the Olympics. Whether that is Lee Chong Wei winning gold for Malaysia, Lin Dan retaining his Olympic title or the dream finale to Peter Gade’s stunning career, the countdown has begun. There is no more putting off talking about the likely retirement of these four players, for it is now a matter of months, not years now.

The 2012 season starts in just a few weeks, with the Korean Open Super Series Premier being moved 3 weeks to the first week in January, with the Malaysian Open Super Series the next week to ensure an exciting start to the year. The doubleheader of the Indonesia Premier and Singapore Super Series will be the final event before the run-in to the Olympics in late July.

Then, another 6 week break before the China Masters and the first opportunity to survey the aftermath of the 2012 Olympics. The year ends with the China Open Premier and the Hong Kong Super Series in late November to conclude what is likely to be a historic year of badminton.…

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Lee Chong Wei Wins In Korea

Lee Chong Wei Wins In Korea

Men’s Singles

The top two seeds met in the final, with Peter Gade taking on Lee Chong Wei for the first Super Series title of 2010. This was the dream final for the event, but it didn’t live up to the billing. The defending champion Peter Gade lost his first final ever in Korea as Lee Chong Wei was in dominating form and took the match in two games, 21-12, 21-11 in 34 minutes.  From the very start of the match the Dane looked uneasy and struggled to keep up with Lee’s pace.  Upon entering the final Gade had played 90 minutes more badminton than Lee.

Women’s Singles

Local favourite Sung Ji Hyun faced Chinese 6th seed Wang Shixian in the women’s singles final. Sung defeated the top seed and the 7th seed to reach the final but was unable to beat another seed and win the title. She did however have 3 game points in the second game before losing the game and the match to Wang Shixian 21-10, 25-23.

Men’s Doubles:

The rematch of the 2009 World Championship final turned into another sensational match as Lee and Jung took on Cai and Fu in the final. Arguably the best two partnerships in the world played some fantastically long rallies with incredible defense to share the opening two games, just like in India in August at the World Championships. Lee Yong Dae was without a doubt the star of the match, dominating the front court in a manner reminiscent of Tony Gunawan.  This time it was the Korean’s turn to win a tight third game and the match 21-11, 14-21, 21-18.

Women’s Doubles:

The top two seeds met in the women’s doubles final, with the on-form Cheng and Zhao not losing a single game on route to the final to justify their top seeding. Fujii and Kakiiwa had to come through two 3 game matches to reach the final, but where unable to compete at the high level of the Chinese top seeds as Cheng and Zhao won their fourth match in two games to claim the title 21-16, 21-15.

Mixed Doubles:

Mixed Doubles

Could Tao and Zhang be the shock story of the week and defeat their third seeded pair to claim the Korean title? 3rd seeded He and Yu stood in their way. The two partnerships had only lost one game between them on route to the final (He and Yu) but Tao and Zhang’s run came to an end at the final hurdle, with the 3rd seeds winning 21-15, 21-16 to secure the title.…

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What Separates The Best From The Rest: Professionalism

What Separates The Best From The Rest: Professionalism

Doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant, engineer… What do Lin Dan, Peter Gade and Lee Chong Wei have in common with these people? They’re all professionals. While these players haven’t gone to school to study badminton like a doctor went to medical school, they do take their sport very seriously. I can assure you that Peter Gade looks at badminton as his job, and has done so since he was 18 or 19 years old. This could very well be the number one most important thing that separates someone like Peter Gade, from some national level player.

How does someone treat badminton professionally? Here are a few things to consider:

-Missing practice is not an option
-Plan your tournament schedule with purpose
-Collaborate with others that are professionals in areas you need help (trainers, physiotherapy, nutrition etc)
-Train multiple times a day (two on court sessions, and one off court session typically)
-Cut back on the partying (like to go out for junk food, or drinks with friends?? not anymore)

Basically it boils down to discipline. If you expect to be a professional badminton player, you need to be a professional. For another analogy, I would look at yourself as a business. Your business is to become a great badminton player, and hopefully start winning money, and getting sponsors, and of course winning for all that glory and personal satisfaction. However, you can’t be knowledgeable about everything that you need to do. This is where you need to start collaborating with other professionals. Get lessons with an excellent coach. Have a professional trainer make up a training program for you after telling them what your fitness and strength goals are. Speak with a nutritionist about developing an athletic diet so you can make sure that you are putting the right kind of fuel into your body. This is the reason why the same countries succeed in badminton consistently. It’s not necessarily because they have more talent, or badminton specific knowledge. It’s because they have the support structures in place to help their athletes focus on what they do best, play badminton. Leave the other stuff to other professionals.

This is very difficult if you are doing it all on your own. It can be expensive to work with a trainer everyday. The same goes for a nutritionist. But you could just get them to give you a monthly program, then next month get another one done. If you’re serious about succeeding in badminton you will need to invest time and unfortunately some money into developing yourself as a player, talent can’t solve everything.

Here at BVM we are working on providing some tools for aspiring players to help them cut back on the costs of developing quality training programs, and hopefully these tools will help players that don’t have government funding to be able to excel without spending hundreds of dollars every month on trainers and private lessons. There is of course no substitute for in person coaching, but having a world champion as a mentor will certainly help.

For more information on our training program visit BadmintonLife.com…

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Yonex Open Japan Super Series 2009: Zhou Mi Out

Yonex Open Japan Super Series 2009: Zhou Mi Out

The draw in Japan left a real chance of seeds falling today, with potential shocks with Boonsak Ponsana against Lee Chong Wei in Round 1 being one of the matches of the day. Ponsana came into the event on the back of his Super Series Final defeat to Lin Dan and the Thai player was expected to trouble the world number 1.

That was simply not the case. Lee Chong Wei sailed into Round 2 with a 21-9, 21-15 victory. Joachim Persson, seeded 7 played Shon Wan Ho of Korea, a player showing promise in recent weeks. The Korean player took a set of Peter Gade just last week in the China Masters and continues his excellent form with a superb 21-13, 21-13 over Persson. He plays Bao Chunlai in Round 2.

The bottom half of the men’s draw has been decimating with Chen Jin’s withdrawal and Joachim Persson’s defeat, leaving just two seeds in the bottom half of the draw going into Round 2. The Women’s draw is none the better, with Wang Yihan the last seed left in the top half of the Women’s draw.

Zhou Mi’s half of the draw was a potentially easier one that she expected, the withdrawal of world champion Lu Lan and Xie Xingfang meant that only herself and Wang Yihan were seeded in the top half. Adriyanti Firdasari was her Round 1 opponent, three sets and 56 minutes later, the top seed tumbled out of the competition. Zhou Mi held a 16-12 lead in the third set, only to lose nine of the next eleven points. Half of the seeds in the Women’s singles are now out or withdrew pre-event. Salna Nehwal also failed to reach Round 2, with a three-set defeat against Jiang Yanjiao.

The event is littered with Chinese withdrawals, Lu Lan, Xie Xingfang, Cai and Fu, Xie Zhongbo and Zhang Yawen to name a few.

The Men’s Doubles has also suffered its fair share of shocks in Round 1. Second seeds Tan and Koo losing to Japanese partnership of Hayakawa and Kazuno. The pair was seeded 14th at the World Championships. The story of the early rounds of the World Championships was Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan’s run at world title number two.

The pair put together some incredible victories to reach the quarterfinals; they have started their campaign with another outstanding win over Paaske and Rasmussen, the 6th seeds. The American partnership was never behind in the third set and play Hoshino and Kobayashi in Round 2.…

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2012 Olympics signals

2012 Olympics signals

The 2012 Olympics signals the end of four legendary careers, with the hope of a last great battle between Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan for the Olympic gold on August 5, 2012. August of this year provided with perhaps the greatest advertisement for the game that there has ever been as Lee Chong Wei took on Lin Dan for the 2011 World Championship.

Malaysia expected as Lee Chong Wei had two match points to claim his first world title, only for Lin Dan to break a nations heart with his refusal to be beaten. A nation distraught as China claimed a clean sweep in London as Lin Dan ripped off his top in celebration after his historic victory. It was the defining image of 2011, that the Chinese were still the nation to beat and that Lin Dan will still the man to beat.

As much as the Chinese tactics are questionable on how they get so many players to qualify, there is little doubting they are the nation to beat going into next years Olympics. Malaysia and Lee Chong Wei’s last chance waits in London once more, in the arena that robbed him of a world title 12 months previously.

From the stunning mistake by Lin Dan at 19-19 in the third game, to his net play and smashes that saved the two match points before his precise pushes into Lee Chong Wei’s forehand that forced the errors that led to the match point and the eventual winning point, it was an absolute master class on the greatest stage by both players. They simply are the best two players in the world and the only two men capable of winning gold in London.…

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Dutch Dominance Continues

Dutch Dominance Continues

The opportunity of two all-Dutch finals was on the cards on Saturday morning; by the start of the evening they had their first. Eric Pang played Rajiv Ouseph started the Dutch interest on Saturday, with the first men’s singles semi final. Hope were high when Pang took the opening game 23-21 after trailing most of the latter half of the game, but the higher seeded Ouseph levelled the match by taking the second game 21-12.

Pang was forced to respond, which he did in front of his home crowd. He never led Ouseph take the lead in the final game and comfortably won the third game 21-7 to book his place in Sunday’s final.

Next game on court was Judith Meulendijks, against unseeded German Carola Boot. The second seed defeated Carola Bott in two games to claim her place in the final, the 21-13, 21-16 score line secured the first women’s single finalist for the home fans. Jie Yao had the chance to give the Dutch fans their first all-Dutch final on Sunday if she defeated Olga Koron in her semi final.

A dominant display in the opening game give the Dutch fourth seed a one game lead with a 21-8 scoreline. Koron responded well in the opening part of Game 2 but Jie Yao’s class prevailed and she took the second game 21-17 to complete the all-Dutch women’s singles final.

Dicky Palyama had the opportunity to complete the clean sweep of Dutch success on Saturday, playing second seed Chetan Anand of India. Palyama started well in the opening game, but the Indian responded with several runs of 2 and 3 points and clinched the opening game 21-14. The second game failed to change the outlook of the match, with Chetan Anand winning seven points in a row at 2-1 to take a dominating lead that he never lost, winning the second game 21-6.

Nina Vislova and Valeria Sorokina will pair up in the women’s doubles final first on finals day before playing against one another in the mixed doubles final. Vislova and Sorokina playing unseeded German pair Sandra Marinello and Birgit Overzier. Vislova was partner Vitalij Durkin as top seeds against Alexandr Nikolaenko and Valeria Sorokina.

The men’s doubles final is an all-German affair, with sixth seeded Krisoff Hopp and Johannes Schoettler playing fourth-seeded Michael Fuchs and Ingo Kindervater.…

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