The English challenge
Rajiv Ouseph was the only English men’s singles player present this year. He had an impressive 3 set win over the 16th seed from Malaysia in round one, but couldn’t find the same form against India’s Srikanth in round 2, losing 21-18 21-13.
Women’s singles has been a weakness for England for many years but there were encouraging signs in the worlds. Fontaine Chapman had a point to prove having been left out of the commonwealths and in the first round she pushed the commonwealth champion Michelle Li but lost 28-26 21-17 in a brave performance. Rival Sarah Walker also performed well, an excellent 3 set win over the Malaysian Saniru took her through round one but Walker was unable to continue to round 2 due to injury.
Both men’s doubles pairs lost out in round two, while the women’s pair of Adcock/smith lost in round one and that seems to be the end of the partnership. Adcock will continue to prioritise mixed but a shake up of the doubles pairs looks on the cards.
Mixed as always offered the realistic hope of a medal but the Adcocks lost out to the third Chinese pair, only really finding their form at the end of the second set. They have reached 4 in the world and won a Superseries showing they can trouble the best in the world but have yet to make an impact at a major.
Winners and finals
The men’s singles event lost several of its stars before day one. 6 time major winner Lin Dan needed a wild card again but the BWF council voted not to give cards this year. Santoso and Tago pulled out before the first day. Former world junior champion Momota, who many predict will be a world beater , lost out to Nan Wei in round 1. Jan Jorgenson looked to be the only Player who could stop Chong Wei reaching the final, but Jan was forced out early with a knee injury. victor Axelsen took a bronze to give Europe a medal.
Lee chong wei reached the final without conceding more than 12 points. Chen Long had a tougher battle, including a three set qtr with the strong Korean Wan Ho Son. Fan favourite Chong Wei was in his fifth major final, but the first in which he did not face Lin Dan. But Lee only held a 9-8 record against Chen Long and from the start of the final Chen looked the steadier. Chen took more chances and took the first set 21-19 after some aggressive net play. In set two Chen had a big lead before the break and Lee looked beaten, but some flick serves and aggressive play closed the gap to just 11-9 to Chen. It was close all the way but Lee never looked comfortable and Chen again took his chances to win 21-19 21-19. Malaysians have now played 11 major finals in badminton and lost them all, they can only hope Lee goes on for two more years to Rio 2016.
The biggest story of the worlds was Spain’s first ever world gold. Left handed 21 year old Carolina Marin did the unthinkable and defeated the Asian challenge for the first time in 15 years in the women’s singles. The European Champion was typically vocal and aggressive on court but played superbly and dealt with everything the Chinese had. She defeated the massive favourite Li xuerui who looked under immense pressure to win, and from Marin’s clears and made many errors to let Marin back in and eventually to win in three sets.
In the absence of the top Indonesians the men’s doubles looked likely to go to Korea, but it was the 12th seeded Koreans Ko/Shin who took gold , with Lee/Yoo who have looked unbeatable lately taking silver. A spectacular three set men’s doubles finals 22-20 21-23 21-18 will give little reason for BWF to force through the 5 x 11 format.
The women’s and mixed finals were all Chinese affairs, with Zhao Yunlei taking two golds.
Some final thoughts – the best players in the world need to be there, BWF council should ensure wild cards are given where appropriate if the defending champion needs one. The match fixing problem is still there, and BwF should be looking at this rather than messing with the scoring, too many semis at Superseries and worlds are uncompetitive. The hawkeye system is great , but players need more challenges. Not one of the best world champs , but Marin’s victory will long be remembered.