Maybe this has been discussed already or I'm late to the discussion but I was watching the final of the China open today and I heard Gill Clark and her co commentator commenting on how the tournaments have been using "new shuttles" to support the longer, more physically demanding rallies to increase the excitement and drama of the matches.
When I mean new shuttles, I mean that the shuttles are significantly slower than before. Just based on the fastest speed shuttle indicators, not very many people are hitting faster than 260 kph on average now whereas that used to be the regularly reached by many of the mens doubles players. Unless you're Xu Chen, Hong Wei, or Fu Haifeng, it seems power is becoming much less dominant in the top game than before with placement becoming more dominant (not necessarily a bad thing, promotes smarter play).
It's interesting because this parallels what has happened in Tennis the last 5 years or so. There are three different surfaces: Clay (slowest), Grass court (fastest), and Hard court (Medium). These surfaces have been slowed significantly in the last 5 years , especially the grass and hard court surfaces to be closer to that of clay so that players can no longer use their power to hit their opponents off the court as their main tactic. It has made tennis into a sport that rewards players who have immense physical endurance who can play long, grueling rallies which ultimately end up being more exciting and dramatic for viewers to watch. It has given a distinct advantage to players like Rafael and Djokovic who have incredible stamina and defensive abilities and can run down almost any ball until their opponent makes a mistake or they can counter attack. It has however caused many more tennis players to have much more injuries due to the strain.
Maybe we're seeing badminton taking that same step that Tennis did to slow the game down to promote different types of rallies to make the game more exciting and longer? The game between LYD/YYS and Hayakawa/Endo at the China Open was a fantastic and extremely long match with the match time around an hour and thirty minutes because neither side could really just win from the back of the court alone with power. It became a much more strategic and tactical match up.
We know how it feels to play with a shuttle that is too slow... it leads to over exertion of power strokes and being more physically demanding, leads to more injuries. I absolutely will not play with slow shuttles. I will rather tip them before continuing.
For pro players to play like this in grueling games, I can only sympatize with them.
If we think about it, how different is using slow shuttles in MD compared to using regular shuttles in WD games... I'd hate for MD to end up being like WD with crazy long punishing rallies with no one being able to smash their way to win.
At around 22:27 you can listen to Gill mention briefly about the "slower shuttles making the discipline of Men's Doubles so much better to watch" and her co commentator mentioning that there have been more rallies in this match alone than a lot of other tournaments previously. Perhaps this is an experiment starting this tournament? They also mentioned that they had talked about it in previous matches during the China Open but it's a lot of video footage to go through just for a few lines mentioning this specific talking.
At one point I remember LYD hitting a smash at 255 kph which Gill Clark said was the fastest of the tournament. Maybe I remembered/heard wrong and she said fastest of the day, but if it was the former, that really says a lot about how fast the shuttles are.
Maybe I'm blowing this out of proportion and these are just slow shuttles for this one event combined with the conditions of the event.
well, Wang Xiaoli didn't have problems penetrating her opponent's defence with her smashes.
Although the smash speeds dropped significantly... In 2006 WC Taufik and Lin Dan hit their smashes over 300kph. After that the speeds dropped significantly. Last year LCW, Lin Dan and others were hitting around 260-270. At Indonesia open this year the fastest in MS was by Rumbaka at 276 as far as i remember. At Denmark Open, China Open Chen Long, LCW were hitting consistently around 240 kph, the fastest in MS in China Open that i've seen was by Wang Zhengming in the final at 251kph.
I personally have mixed feelings about it. Probably the good thing is that in MS game it keeps it away from always "keep the net - smash" pattern. In WS i think that's a bit too much, so hard for them to score points on the top level of opponent's play.