Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bumper entry for Yonex All England

THE 99th Yonex All England Championship organisers were celebrating today after receiving a star-studded entry for the tournament at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham from March 3-8.

The entry for the first Super Series event of the year in Europe includes four of the gold medal winners at the Beijing Olympics with double women’s singles winner Zhang Ning (China) the only player missing.

World champion Lin Dan, who was men’s singles runner-up last year, will be back to bid for his fourth All England title in six years, while Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia will be out to add the All England men’s doubles title to their Olympic gold and 2007 world title.

In the women’s doubles China’s Olympic winners Du Jing and Yu Yang will be aiming to improve on their runners-up spot in Birmingham last year but they will once against be up against defending champions Lee Hyo Jung and Lee Kyung Won.

In the mixed doubles Lee Yong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung, the Korean pair who defeated Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms on the way to the OIympic mixed title, will be the pair to beat although double world champions and Olympic silver medallists Nova Widianto and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia will be among those out to stop them.

But there aren’t just Olympic champions on parade as the quality of the entry reflects the pulling power of the world’s oldest and most prestigious tournament.

Denmark’s world No. 1 Tine Rasmussen will be defending her women’s singles title and will be up against world champion Zhu Lin of China.

Her Danish team-mate, the 1999 All England winner Peter Gade, will come to Birmingham fresh from his resurgent Korean Open final victory over World No 1 Lee Chong Wei, who has never been beyond the semi-finals in Birmingham.

But last year’s men’s singles winner Chen Jin will be another to watch in the men’s singles where England’s world No 21 Andrew Smith (Hants) is in the main draw along with Canadian Carl Baxter (Avon). Two-time National champion Rajiv Ouseph (Middlesex) will have to qualify, such is the strength of the men’s entry.

In the mixed doubles Zheng Bo, winner in 2007 and 2008 with Gao Ling, will try for another title with new partner Ma Jin.

Many of the players who this week have been competing in Liverpool at the European Team Championship have entered – including England stars Nathan Robertson and Anthony Clark (both Notts) in men’s doubles. They will be supported by Robert Blair (Leics) and Chris Adcock (Notts), Richard Eidestedt (Bucks) and Andrew Ellis (Yorks) and David Lindley (Notts) and Chris Langridge (Surrey).

But England’s strength in depth comes once again in the mixed where European champions Clark and Donna Kellogg (Derbyshire) and Blair and Imogen Bankier (Scotland) can expect to be seeded. Robertson will also be in the mix with new partner Jenny Wallwork, along with world No 16s David Lindley (Notts) and Suzanne Rayappan (Herts) and young prospects Chris Adcock and Gabby White (Yorks) will be out to make their mark.

In the women’s singles Jersey’s Elizabeth Cann is in the main draw but new National champion Jill Pittard (Warwicks) must qualify.

But England have four pairs in the main draw of the women’s doubles with Yorkshire pair Wallwork and White leading the way.

Tournament Director Darren Parks said: “We couldn’t have wished for a stronger entry. It’s a great chance to see the England and GB players test themselves against the best of the rest.”


Tuesday, March 3: Qualifying rounds 11am-10pm approx (5 courts)
Wednesday, March 4: First rounds from 10am-10pm approx (5 courts)
Thursday, March 5: Second rounds from10am-10pm approx (3 courts, interval 4pm-5pm)
Friday, March 6: Quarter-finals from 5pm-10.30pm approx (3 courts)
Saturday, March 7: Semi-finals from 12.30pm-5pm approx (2 courts)
Sunday, March 8: Finals from 12.30pm-5pm approx (1 court)