Wednesday, August 16, 2017
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
The battle of youth against experience at the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 is likely to be the defining feature of Men’s Doubles as a host of talented youngsters face off against wily older players.
That the top two seeds – Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen (China) and Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen (Denmark) belong to different generations is illustrative of this. While the likes of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (Indonesia), Takuto Inoue/Yuki Kaneko (Japan), apart from Li/Liu, carry the flag for the younger generation of shuttlers, Boe/Mogensen, their compatriots Mads Pieler Kolding/Mads Conrad-Petersen, China’s Chai Biao/Hong Wei and Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov/Ivan Sozonov have the benefit of greater experience at the top level.
No.1 seeds Li/Liu have been outstanding – runners-up in England and semi-finalists in India, the Chinese duo enjoyed a 12-match unbeaten run following their loss to Boe/Mogensen in the OUE Singapore Open final. They won the Badminton Asia Championships, helped China into the Sudirman Cup final, and avenged their Singapore Open loss by beating Boe/Mogensen in the BCA Indonesia Open title clash.
The top seeds have a tricky draw – a possible second round against Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan/Rian Agung Saputro, followed by a potential quarter-final against Malaysia’s Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong. The Malaysians, on the other hand, have to worry about the likes of India’s Manu Attri/Sumeeth Reddy and England’s Marcus Ellis/Chris Langridge before they can afford themselves the luxury of contemplating the quarter-finals.
Japan’s best pair Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda have the momentum to top the second quarter; their strongest opposition likely to come from Indonesia’s Angga Pratama/Ricky Karandasuwardi in the third round. Kamura/Sonoda won their career’s second Superseries title in Australia and have been consistent throughout the season, while Pratama/Suwardi wavered a bit following their fourth consecutive loss to compatriots Fernaldi/Sukamuljo, in India.
The winners will probably face Kolding/Conrad-Petersen, Hong Kong’s Or Chin Chung/Tang Chun Man or Chinese Taipei’s Lu Ching Yao/Yang Po Han.
The Chinese Taipei pair have enjoyed a meteoric rise; they made a big impact at the Crown Group Australian Open beating Li/Liu in the second round and went on to make the semi-finals. Hong Kong’s Or/Tang too are a dangerous pair on their day, despite four straight first-round losses this year. Kamura/Sonoda have their task cut out if they have to make the last four from this quarter.
Gideon/Sukamuljo are the obvious favourites from the third quarter, considering their spectacular run of form in the early season, where they picked up three straight Superseries titles – in England, India and Malaysia. A tricky third round against Russians Ivanov/Sozonov could await them, followed by a duel against one of two Chinese pairs – Chai Biao/Hong Wei or Huang Kaixiang/Wang Yilyu.
Chai/Hong have kept a low profile this season after winning the Swiss Open; they were semi-finalists in Malaysia and the Badminton Asia Championships in April and played only one tournament since then.
Boe/Mogensen are the biggest names in the bottom quarter; a third round against Japan’s Takuto Inoue/Yuki Kaneko or Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi beckons; the quarter-final could be against China’s Zhang Nan/Liu Cheng or Danish compatriots Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen. A third Japanese pair – the new pairing of Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe –though might play a spoiler for the more established names.