World Champions Ahmad／Natsir aim for three in a row at the world’s oldest tournament
The BWF Super Series is back in the spotlight as this week the world’s oldest badminton tournament, the All England Open Badminton Championships, takes the stage. The All England is a Super Series Premier event, with US$400,000 in prize-money up for grabs.” "Indonesian Lightning” Tontowi Ahmad
will be looking for their third All England win in the mixed doubles. Badminton King Lee Chong Wei, and Badminton Queen Li Xue Rui will also compete. The strength of the field means that the first round has a number of matches that will provide a treat for fans.
One of the focal points this week is whether or not Ahmad
will be able to claim their straight overall victory at the All England. The last player to achieve this feat at the Birmingham National Indoor Arena was Gao Ling of China who won with partners Zhang Jun and then Zheng Bo from 2006 to 2008. This year the top seeds, and 2010 winners, Zhang Nan／Zhao Yun Lei will hope to emulate the success of their compatriots.
Their first match on the road to taking the title again will be no pushover as Ahmad
will face Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon who will take the court with his new partner, Lai Pei Jing. Chan and Goh Liu Ying were Malaysia’s top mixed doubles pair, ranked 6th
in the world, however, Goh decided to have an operation on her knee to clear up an old injury and her place has been temporarily taken by Lai Pei Jing. The pair began this year’s campaign at the Austrian International Challengeand came second. Then, at the German Open Grand Prix Gold last week, they fell at the hands of Victor stars Ko Sung Hyun／Kim Ha Na
in the first round. They have the potential to be dark horses but are still getting used to playing together.
In the men’ singles, Lee Chong Wei has overcome his ankle injury and has decided to return to the All England where his biggest challenge will be reigning champion Chen Long of China. Well worth looking forward to is the appearance of Victor Stars the ROK’s Son Wan Ho
, back up to world no. 13,and Taiwan’sChou Tien Chen;Choualmost reached the final in Germany last week, a country he has achieved good results in before; and after that“warm-up” he will be feeling confident that he can go far at the All England.
Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon made people sit up and take notice at this event last year when she reached the final aged just 18 years old and lost to Denmark’s veteran Tine Baun, who retired gloriously after her win. At present, Intanon is ranked third in the world. In the new season so far she took second place at the VICTOR Korea Open but went on to lose to Japanese newcomer Akane Yamaguchiin the first round soon after at the Malaysia Open Super Series Premier, showing that her form is erratic at present. Her progress to the last four will depend on the performance of eighth seed, VICTOR Star Tai Tzu Ying
of Chinese Taipei.
Mohammad Ahsan／Hendra Setiawan and Wang Xiao Li／Yu Yang will compete in the men’s doubles and women’s doubles respectively; the ROK’s Kim Ha Na played well last week after coming back from injury, taking second place with Jung Kyung Eunand Ko Sung Hyun in the women’s and mixed doubles respectively, and she will also return to the Super Series at the All England.
The main Victor stars and their first round opponents:
Son Wan Ho
(Korea) vs. Jan O Jorgensen (Denmark)
Berry Angriawan／Ricky Karanda Suwardi (Indonesia) vs. Michael Fuchs／Johannes Schoettler (Germany)
Jang Ye Na
／Kim So Yeong  (Korea) vs. Qualification [Q]
Tarun Kona／Ashwini Ponnappa (India) vs. Joachim Fischer Nielsen／Christinna Pedersen  (Denmark)