Asians versus Europeans in BCA Indonesia Open Superseries Premier
The focus now shifts to Jakarta
JAKARTA: With the Thomas and Uber Cup over, the spotlight now shifts to Jakarta for the BCA Indonesia Open Superseries Premier event where the world's top players will be battling for honours and more importantly, to gain the psychological edge ahead of the Rio Olympics.
While the Indonesian Open does not carry Olympic qualifying points, the tournament is extremely crucial for the top aces in their run-up to the Olympics which will be held in August. For the Asian players in particular, the Indonesian Open will the best stage to not only gauge their own form but that of their arch rivals.
Current World No 1 Chen Long of China, who had a poor outing in the Thomas Cup, is the top seed in the Indonesian Open with Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei as the second seed and China's five-time world champion Lin Dan seeded third.
Viktor Axelsen who played an big role in Denmark's Thomas Cup victory will be looking for his first Indonesia Open title. The lanky Dane is the fourth seed. Former winner Jan O Jorgensen is the fifth seed,
The other seeded players are China's Tian Houwei (No 6), Taiwan's Chou Tien-chen (No 7) and home favourite Tommy Sugiarto is seeded No 8.
Results of the Indonesia Open and the Australian Open will not affect the qualifiers to the Olympics but it will have bearing on the seedings of the players in rio.
Reigning world No 1 Carolina Marin of Spain, who is also the topseed here, will be aiming to regain her winning ways after poor runs in the previous Superseries events in Malaysia and Singapore. Thailand's badminton queen Ratchanok Intanon, who wrote badminton history when she became the first woman shuttler to win three Superseries titles in a row - India Open, Malaysia Open and Singapore Open, is the second seed here,
The Chinese women shuttlers, the Uber Cup champs, will the ones to watch. They are in good stead after Kunshan and could turn the tables on the top two seeds. Li Xuerui, Wang Yihan, Wang Shixian and several others including Sun Yu will be all fired to deliver their best here.
Olympic champion Xuerui is seeded No 3 with compatriot Wang Yihan at No 4 while Japan's Nozomi Okuhara - the only other Superseries winner this year - seeded No 5.
The other seeds are Shixian (No 6), Korea's Sung Ji-hyun (No 7) and India's Saina Nehwal at No 8.
In the doubles World No 1 Lee Young-dae-Yoo Yeon Seong are the top seeds but the Koreans lost to Indonesia's World No 2 pair Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan in Korea's 3-1 defeat to Indonesia in the Thomas Cup semi-finals. The Indonesians are seeded second.
Japan's Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi have been given the top billing in Jakarta with home favourites Nitya Krishinda Maheswari seeded at the bottom half of the draw.
China's Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei are the favourites in the mixed doubles but it will be tough when Indonesia have their own favourites and No 2 seeds Tontowi Ahmad-Liliyana Natsir.