Europe Matches Asia

Along with the mixed doubles, the men’s doubles event is one of the events where Europe stands firm against Asia.
Matthias Boe and Carsten Mogensen are World No.1, winners here in 2011, and they are in top form and could shine again this year... But they will have to face some very good pairs from Asia.

Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen (DEN)
Chances of winning: ★★★★
They are Denmark’s pride. Now that Peter Gade has retired, a duo is in the limelight – Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen reached the World No.1 spot a few months ago and are hanging on to it. Their silver medal in the Olympic Games was a first for Denmark, and, since then, they’ve managed to keep their good form, winning the China Open, the Superseries Finals, and a runner-up placing in Korea. The two shuttlers have been playing together for a long time now, and know each other’s game by heart; although they don’t hang out together off court, they are the perfect combination on court.

Boe is a talented left-hander, particularly precise at the net, while his partner Mogensen nails hard smashes from the back. At 29 and 32 years old respectively, they have the experience and are known for playing the first three strokes of a rally devastatingly well. Plus, a Youtube video of them dancing “Gangnam style” has spread all over the world, giving them a new image of funny shuttlers, as well as being very good.

Ko Sung Hyun & Lee Yong Dae (KOR)
Chances of winning: ★★★★
Lee Yong Dae is one of the most talented players of his generation. At 19, he was Olympic Champion in the mixed doubles, succeeding Park Joo Bong and Kim Dong Moon in the pantheon of Korea’s legendary players at a very
young age. With Jung Jae Sung he won many titles – including last year’s Yonex All England – and a bronze medal in the Olympic Games. Since last August, however, the retirement of his long-time partner Jung has led to
him teaming up with a younger player – Ko Sung Hyun, who previously partnered Yoo Yeon Seung in a top 5 team.

The new combination is performing really well – Lee is now the “boss” on court and has taken his game to another level. He and Ko won the French Superseries, then were runners-up in China, before scooping two Grand Prix
Gold tournaments and winning their home event in the Korea Superseries in January. In their last outing they reached the final of the Malaysian Superseries, which means that they’ve climbed to the World No.3 spot in just a few months. Impressive.

Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng (CHN)
Chances of winning: ★★★★
The Chinese duo has now won it all. Already four-time World Champions, they scooped the Olympic gold medal last year in London – the only title they were missing. They love England – not only because it is the land of their triumph at last year’s Olympics, but also because they won the All England in 2005 and 2009, which, if logic prevails, should mean they will win the title again this year. After their success in the Yonex Sunrise Hong Kong Open, Cai and Fu did not complete the last two tournaments they played in – they retired halfway through the Superseries Finals as well as the Korea Open in January. Hence, there is a question mark over their state of form, but they can raise their level to a point where very few pairs can match their speed and accuracy. Cai Yun at the front and Fu Haifeng, the left-hander, striking from the back are the ideal combination on court, but they are
just as efficient when they switch.

Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong (MAS)
Chances of winning: ★★★
The Malaysian pair were very close to being split up last year after they failed to deliver in the Olympics – they finished in the worst spot, losing the bronze medal match. But they were given another chance – with the target of winning the world title this year in Guangzhou. And lately they’ve been back in form, reaching the finals or semi-finals of almost all the tournaments they’ve played in since London 2012, which puts them now at the second rung of the world rankings. Koo Kien Keat said once that he would have been a designer had he not played badminton – his style on court shows his creativity and he is amongst the most enjoyable players to watch. His partner, Tan Boon Heong, is the world’s fastest hitter at 421 km/h. If they play at full confidence, they could be the winners here in Birmingham – they have won here before, in 2007, in their heyday when they had only just formed their partnership.

And others…
There are other pairs to watch in the men’s doubles draw. Starting with Japan’s duos : Endo/Hayakawa and  Hirata/Hashimoto. With very strong defences and under the tutorship of Korea’s legend Park Joo Bong, both pairs could upset any of the pairs above. Indonesians also have strong pairs – one especially in the name of Hendra Setiawan, former Olympic champion, who has recently been paired up with Mohammed Ahsan. They have won the last Super Series in Malaysia and will be a dangerous pair. China’s Hong Wei and Shen Ye are also a threat – they are better ranked than Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng and have recently matured enough to pretend to win any Super Series. England’s Andrew Ellis is back after his injury in Korea and he will be all fired up together with his partner Chris Adcock to perform well at home. The duo recently beat the world number ones Boe/Mogensen,
proving they too have a chance to shine this week . Chris Langridge and Peter Mills will also be in the draw.

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