Australian Open Super Series 2017: Tournament Review

It was a second Super Series tournament in as many as weeks, as the shuttlers prepared to clinch glory in the only Superseries tournament not to be held in Eurasia. With a total prize money of $750,000 at grabs, it was a real show Down Under.

Men’s Singles:

With the withdrawal of Lee Chong Wei (second seed) and Viktor Axelsen (third seed), the bottom half of the draw was wide open. But as fate would have had it, four of the remaining six seeds faltered in the first two rounds itself. The victims were Jan O Jorgensen (seeded fifth) and Chou Tien-chen (seeded sixth) in the first round and Son Wan-ho (top seed) and seventh seeded Ng Ka Long in the second. The quarter finals saw a repeat of this year’s Singapore Super Series’ finals as the in-form Indians, B Sai Praneeth and Kidambi Srikanth met for the seventh time in their career. This time, the latter his avenged his defeat to meet the fourth seed, Shi Yuqi from China. The last eight also saw a clash between two Chinese powerhouses, Lin Dan and Chen Long which the younger of the two won 23-21 in the decider. Kidambi Srikanth after creating another upset became just the fifth player ever to reach three consecutive Super Series Finals where he would lock horns with China’ Chen Long against whom he had yet to win a match. But, there was some other Srikanth on the court during the finals as he tamed the Olympic champion 22-20, 20-16 to win his second consecutive Super Series title.

Women’s Singles:

The top two seeds had contrasting beginning to their campaign for the Australia Open title. With the number one seed, Tai Tzu-ying winning in straight sets, Carolina Marin had to face a shock defeat. It was the end of the road for the fourth seed, Sung Ji-hyun as India’s Saina Nehwal got the better off her in straight sets. In the second round, Japanese qualifier halted seventh seed, He Bingjiao to face countrymate Nozomi Okuhara, who defeated Carolina Marin in the first round. The last eight saw, the number one seed comeback from a set down to reach her fourth semifinal of the year. She was to face Akane Yamaguchi in the semi finals, while the other semifinal featured sixth seeded, Sun Yu and Nozomi Okuhara. Both the Japanese girls put up a phenomenal show to make it an all Japanese finals at the State Sports Centre in Sydney. In the finals, it was the unseeded Okuhara who brought her to a perfect end with a three set victory over the third seed to win the title.

Men’s Doubles:

Barring the third and eighth seeds, none of the other seeds could cross the first two hurdles, thus leaving the race for the championship more intriguing than ever. The two seeds left in the field met in the quarter finals where the higher seeds won in straight sets to face victors over second seeds from China, Lu Ching-yao and Yang Po-han. The winner of this match would face either the Chinese pairing of Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan or the Indonesian-Malay pairing of Setiawan/Boon Heong. While the third seeds had it easy, it was a task cut out for Setiawan and Heong as they were taken the distance by their opponents. In the finals, it was a one sided affair as the third seeds comfortably beat their opponents to clinch the match and the title.

Women’s Doubles:

A field dominated by world class pairings, every match was more intensifying than the next.The fifth seeds were to the first crash in the opening round followed by eighth seeds from Japan in the second. The last eight featured three Japanese, two Chinese and Koreans a Danish pair thus clearly solidifying asian dominance in this discipline. Except the third seed who lost to the unseeded pairing of Hirota/Fukushima, the other three of the Top 4 pairs made it to the semis. Things went according to the seedings with the Top 2 making it through to the summit clash with contrasting victories. The finals seemed to be a practice match for the Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi as they convincingly defeated the second seeds from Denmark, Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl to lift the trophy.

Mixed Doubles:

Taking advantage of the withdrawal of the second and third seeds, seventh seeded pair of Indonesia made sure they didn’t become a victim of any upset as they safely made it through to the finals without dropping a set. However, the top half wasn’t that easy as it was a shock first round exit for Nielsen/Pedersen (fourth seeds) and 2017 Indonesia Super Series Premier champions, Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir (sixth seeds). Making it to the finals from the top half were the number one seeded pair of China who defeated giant killers, Wang Yilu and Huang Dongping in three tight sets in their last four encounter. The summit clash, saw the top seeds, Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen win the match after losing the first set. This victory ensured the pair’s second Super Series title of the year.

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