After the thrills and spills of passionate badminton in the Sudirman Cup in Dongguan, it’s time to head to Australia. The Star Australian Badminton Open, recently upgraded to Superseries status will get the players back to serious earning-points-and-qualifying-for-Olympics mode. The Chinese players, all part of the Sudirman Cup winning team will be pumped up and raring to go. With the draws and seedings released, come May 26th all attention will be focussed on the Sydney Olympic Park.
Latest world no.1 Saina Nehwal-the defending champion- is in good form. She was the lone bright spot for the Indian contingent in Dongguan and seems headed for a second straight Australian Badminton Open in 2015. Looking to upset her will be no.1 seed Li Xuerui and Spain’s Carolina Marin. But both of them have had tiring campaigns recently and that might just take a toll on them. India’s rising star P.V.Sindhu is making her comeback after a break due to injury. How quickly she gets into rhythm will have to be seen.
The men’s singles will be a tough one to call. World No.1 Chen Long and defending champion Lin Dan are on opposite ends of the draw with Jorgensen and India’s Srikanth making up the top four. All of them have been in great form with Lin Dan getting better everyday. With the rest of the draw being completed by giant killers, who will make the finals and lift the trophy is anybody’s call.
Lee Yong Dae/Yeon Seong return to defend their title and looking to upset them are Setiawan/Ahsan in the Men’s doubles. Denmark’s Mads pairing and Fu Haifeng/Zhang Nan are the other favourites. Matsumoto/Takahashi might be seeded 1, but Pedersen/Juhl seem well set to take the Women’s doubles if they see off early challenges from Kakiiwa/Maeda and Ma Jin/Yanuting. Jwala/Ashwini are looking to end a long title drought and might turn out to be the dark horses of this tournament.
Defending Champs in mixed doubles Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha-na are seeded 7 and judging by recent form are unlikely to take back a 2nd title. Ahmad/Natsir and Xu Chen/Ma Jin should meet in a much anticipated final unless the Adcocks or Chen/Yixin put the brakes on them.
The Olympic Qualification race has heated up and in a Superseries event, every point will be fought for. But again, olympic qualification is at stake and with so many Chinese in the fray, expect some walkovers too.