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Skycity Badminton Open Attracts World Class Field

Skycity Badminton Open Attracts World Class Field

The final field and seedings are out for the SKYCITY New Zealand Badminton Open scheduled at the North Shore Events Centre later in March and New Zealand will play host to an amazing array of world leading talent, many chasing vital Olympic ranking points ahead of the Rio Games in August.

The depth of the tournament is highlighted with an incredible 52 players or pairs inside the top 50 on world rankings, with 20 players or pairs ranked inside the top 20 in the world, and eight of them in the top ten as the best collection of badminton talent ever assembled in New Zealand is set to entertain local fans and those around the world watching on television.

Badminton New Zealand CEO Joe Hitchcock is delighted at the quality of the field lining up in New Zealand, with the Gold Star Grand Prix event going from strength to strength.

“Now that the draw is out and the seedings are confirmed, it is becoming very real just how good this tournament is and what a boost for the sport it will be. The timing works very much for us late in the Olympic qualifying window but it is also the reputation of the tournament ensuring that we have many returning champions from 2015 and teams returning to enjoy the hospitality and great surroundings they saw or heard about from last year.”

Highlighting that depth of talent is the sight of 2014 men’s singles champion HSU Jen Hao Chinese Taipei seeded at four, the current world number 25 will again be a threat though. Beaten finalist last year QIAO Bin China brings a current world ranking of 50 and sneaks into the seedings at 11. The one to beat though is top seed and world number 13 SON Wan Ho Korea.

Perhaps the feature event in the SKYCITY sponsored Grand Prix Gold tournament will be the men’s doubles, with the top seven seeded pairings all incredibly inside the top 23 in the world. Led by world number 6 Korean pairing KIM Sa Rang KIM Gi Jung, the men’s doubles draw has been hit by the late withdrawal of the world number one pairing (also from Korea) but such is the strength of the field, it is barely a glancing blow to organisers.

“If you had told me a year ago that we might have the top men’s doubles pair in the world pull out before the draw was made final, I might have thought that would be a huge blow,” said Event Director Julie Carrel. “But such is the quality of the entry list that while disappointing, it is far from disastrous, it just removes one of many exciting pairs in that event, the top five seeds are in the top 16 in the world, it doesn’t get much better than that!”

That is a pattern replicated across all disciplines, with all four seeds in the women’s doubles in the top 15 on world rankings, the top four seeds in mixed doubles all inside the top 13 on world rankings and the women’s singles led by world number five SUNG Ji Hyun (Korea).

While Asian nations dominate the seedings, there are a number of highly ranked players coming in from America and Europe. America provides Iris WANG and Rong Schafer, the 8th and 9th seeds in the women’s singles respectively as both players chase vital ranking points and the one Pan Am qualifying spot for Rio, while France and Russia provide seeded combinations in the mixed doubles draw.

Traditional world badminton powerhouses provide the bulk of the seeds, led by Korea who incredibly enjoy top seed status in every discipline. Indonesia are another top team to head to New Zealand shores, with Japan and India also providing a healthy number of seeded players or combinations.

China is sending a large contingent of primarily younger players, with Carrel warning that they must not be discounted.

“It is one thing to point to world rankings as to the obvious quality of players, but the Chinese team is a largely young and unproven team but one with the real ability to progress deep into the tournament. Many of them are teenagers who haven’t yet made an impact on the world rankings, as a result they will be dangerous right across the draw, don’t be surprised if they are there at the business end of the SKYCITY New Zealand Open.”


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