Year of the Be-Lee-Ver?
Having lost agonisingly close battles in three finals of the BWF World Championships, Lee Yong Dae will be hoping his time has finally come this year.
The contemporary doubles great, alongside partner Yoo Yeon Seong, heads the Phase II list of Men's Doubles qualifiers for the TOTAL BWF World Championships. Boasting 97188 points, the Koreans are ahead of the second-placed Danes and All England champions, Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen (75390), who too will be seeking their first world title at the Jakarta event, 10-16 August 2015.
Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia, winners of the Maybank Malaysia Open, are in third place and will seek to reclaim the title they won in 2013.
Under Phase I and Phase II of the eligibility lists, a country has a maximum quota of four entries if they are ranked within the top eight; three if they are within the top 24, or two if they are within the top 150. Any pair that is withdrawn will be replaced by a pair from the reserves' list.
Traditional badminton powers China, Denmark, Indonesia, Japan and Korea dominate the top 20 places of Men's Doubles qualifiers, with the exceptions being Chinese Taipei's Lee Sheng Mu/Tsai Chia Hsin (No.4) and Russia's Vladimir Ivanov/Ivan Sozonov (No.12).
China will bank on the likes of Chai Biao/Hong Wei (No.5), Liu Xiaolong/Qiu Zihan (No.7) and Fu Haifeng/Zhang Nan (No.8), while Japan can count on Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa (No.6), Noriyasu Hirata/Hirokatsu Hashimoto (No.13), Keigo Sonoda/Takeshi Kamura (No.15) and Kenta Kazuno/Kazushi Yamada (No.19).
Apart from their figureheads Lee/Yoo, Korean confidence will be high after reigning World champions Shin Baek Choel/Ko Sung Hyun won the BCA Indonesia Open, having missed most of the year's action. Their defeat of their team-mates, Lee and Yoo, in the Indonesia semi-finals answered lingering questions about their form ahead of their title defence. The other Korean pair to qualify is Kim Ki Jung/Kim Sa Rang (No.9). Denmark, besides strong contenders Boe/Mogensen, have Mads Pieler Kolding/Mads Conrad-Petersen (No.10) and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen/Kim Astrup (No.14) in the field.
Thailand have opted to field a lone pair – World Junior champions Kedren Kittinupong/Puavaranukroh Dechapol (No.58) ahead of their more seasoned pairs – while veteran warhorse, 58-eight year old Matthew Fogarty, has qualified with Bjorn Seguin as USA's second pair (No.76) behind Phillip Chew/Sattawat Pongnairat.
South Africa's Andries Malan/Willem Viljoen (No.85; above) and Matthew Chau/Sawan Serasinghe (Australia, No.111) have made the list as the continental representatives of Africa and Oceania respectively.
China's depth in Women's Doubles has enabled them to field four pairs. The invitation to the first reserves (No.10 pair Yu Xiaohan/Ou Dongni) has been declined in favour of second reserves, The Star Australian Open champions Ma Jin/Tang Yuanting (No.19; above), who will accompany higher-ranked compatriots Zhao Yunlei/Tian Qing (the defending champions), Yu Yang/Wang Xiaoli and Luo Ying/Luo Yu.
World No.1 pair Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Japan) and Asian Games champions Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari (Indonesia) have qualified along with three other pairs from either country.
Korea have opted to field Go Ah Ra/Yoo Hae Won (No.20) alongside Shin Seung Chan/Lee So Hee (No.8). Among the other prominent pairs to qualify are Commonwealth champions Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei (Malaysia, No.11) and India's Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa (No.22).
Denmark's Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter-Juhl made the semi-finals of the Australian Open and quarter-finals of the Indonesia Open and are the strongest Europeans in the fray. Bulgaria's Stoeva sisters - Stefani and Gabriela - won the European Games recently and that is likely to pep them up for a good show in Jakarta.
The continental representatives are Leanne Choo/Gronya Somerville (Australia, No.130) for Oceania and Menna Eltanany/Nadine Ashraf (Egypt, No.134) for Africa.
Hosts Indonesia have a strong presence in Mixed Doubles: apart from former champions Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir, the entries include Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto, Riky Widianto/Puspita Richi Dili and Edi Subaktiar/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja.
Denmark have contenders in Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen and Mads Pieler Kolding/Kamilla Rytter-Juhl; Nielsen/Pedersen made the semi-finals in Indonesia and will fancy their chances in the same venue under similar conditions.
England's Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock have been consistent this season with several quarter-final finishes; a favourable draw could well see them in the business end of the tournament.
Russia have four pairs, led by Vitalij Durkin/Nina Vislova. Selena Piek (Netherlands) has qualified in both her doubles events; in Mixed Doubles, Piek and Jacco Arends (No.17) have made the list alongside compatriots Jorrit De Ruiter/Samantha Barning.
Australian Open champions Lee Chun Hei/Chau Hoi Wah (Hong Kong; above) too have made the list comfortably, qualifying in 14th place, ahead of team-mates, Chan Yun Lung/Tse Ying Suet.
Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei head a pack of four Chinese pairs, all ranked among the top six of qualifiers: Xu Chen/Ma Jin, Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin and Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong being the others.
Meanwhile, Nipitphon Puangpuapech/Puttita Supajirakul (No.36) will be the lone pair representing Thailand in Mixed Doubles, ahead of two higher-ranked compatriot pairs. Andries Malan/Jennifer Fry (South Africa, No.109) and Robin Middleton/Leanne Choo (Australia, No.123) have been confirmed as the continental representatives of Africa and Oceania respectively.
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