Happy New Year 2014.
To wrap up 2013, let’s look at some of the “most” for the year. 2013 being an odd year is a transition from the even Olympics and Thomas/Uber Cup years. But in badminton rarely do a year go by without some excitements, good or bad.
Most shots rally in MS
Tien Minh Nguyen and Jan O Jorgensen had a 2 mins long, 108 shots rally during the World Championships quarter final.
Most partner change for top male player
After an unsuccessful Olympics with now retired partner Jung Jae Sung, Lee Yong Dae started playing with Ko Sung Hyun in late 2012, they played together for a year with little chemistry and moderate wins. Towards the end of 2013, Lee Yong Dae started partnering Yoo Yeon Sung and so far they bagged 3 wins out of 5 tournaments played.
Most partner change for top female player
Bao Yixin had a musical chair year 2013 with no less than 4 women’s double partner. Between Tang Jinhua, Cheng Su, Zhong Qianxin, Tian Qing, she bagged 8 titles for the year, at least one with each partner and 5 with Tang Jinhua alone.
Most dramatic fall in ranking / World Champion with the most lowest ranking
Lin Dan after winning the Olympics in 2012, fell from his world 2nd ranking to 101st within just one year. His semi-retirement and thus lack of competition contributed to the fall. Despite so, he won the World Championship in August.
Most controversial decision by BWF
4 Months prior to its start, BWF suddenly announced that Lin Dan will receive a wildcard for the 2013 World Championships. Badminton players, fans and coaches all over the world debated whether it was a wise decision to let the reigning Olympics gold medalist but now lowered ranked Chinese player to enter with such lack in competition. In the end, Lin Dan continue his dominance over Lee Chong Wei with yet another anticipated match in the final.
Most controversial tournament operation decision
Many matches between Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei are full of excitement and controversies, the final between them in the World Championship was no different. In the middle of the match, the air conditioning was found to be off. While this affects both players equally as they are playing in the same court, the badminton fans are divided in whether Lin Dan knew about this in advance, giving him the advantage.
Most poorly thought out system design
Is it thumbs up for thumbs down? Credit to BWF for implementing a review system for line calls which debuted in the Super Series Final in December. Unfortunately the poorly designed communication protocol between the umpire and referee caused a fair amount of confusion and need some review of its own.
Most consistent player
Lee Chong Wei continue his impressive streak of wins in the international circuit in 2013. Winning 7 of the 12 international tournaments he participated in. He has a comfortable reign in world number one throughout the year. The only setback was his yet again failure to win the World Championships after injuring himself on his opponent Lin Dan’s match point. Hopefully he will have more success in 2014.
Upset with the most difference in ranking
Lee Chong Wei’s year wasn’t all rosy though as the world number one was upset by the young Chinese player Tian Houwei, ranked 196th, during the Australian Open.
Most youngest world champion
Ratchanok Intanon bagged the Women’s singles World Champion title by defeating the reigning Olympics Champion Li Xuerui in a game battle that made drove the world number 1 to the ground. She was only 18 years old.
Most youngest Japan Open and Super Series winner
That honor goes to Akane Yamaguchi of Japan who won the 2013 Japan Open Super Series at the young age of 16. The Women Singles final also showcase 2 ladies from Japan, the other player being Shizuka Uchida. I honestly don’t remember when was the last time that happened.. The future is bright for Japan.
Most incredible save
No shots in 2013 can best the dramatic save by Tai Tzu Ying in the 2013 Super Final Series semifinal against Wang Shixian. Wang Shixian had her 4th match point at 20-19 in the rubber game, and seemingly had a winner smash block to Tai’s forehand, Tai would have none of that so she dove for it, not only retrieving the shot but also hit a perfect crosscourt net winner. She went onto winning the next 2 rallies and took the match away from Wang Shixian. Remember, the rally is not over until the shuttle touches the floor.
Most incredible come back
The most incredible comeback was in Denmark Open in mixed doubles Quarter final between Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen and Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na when the Danes came back from 15-20 down in the 3rd game and ended up winning 30-29.
Most impressive launch of badminton lineup
Sports giant Adidas entered the badminton market in 2013. The line of badminton products from Adidas is no short of impressive, from rackets to grips, from apparel to stringing machines. Many of the top products were reviewed in Badminton Central and overall we have been very impressed. Adidas entry is not product alone as they also sponsored the Adidas China Masters Super Series as well as the London Grand Prix Gold.
Most fragile racket
Within a week of launching the so pretty and so incredibly light Yonex Arcsaber FB, we have started to hear from across the internet how fragile the racket is. Even without any clashes, the Arcsaber FB will crack just on normal hits and smashes. Unfortunately many badminton players were unpleasantly surprised.
Most Super Series Final wins
Christinna Pedersen won both the Women’s doubles and Mixed Doubles events in the 2013 Super Series Final this year. Christinna and her partner Fischer has been top of their game in mixed but for her to top in Women’s doubles, with partner Kamilla Rytter Juhl, where the Chinese ladies has historically dominate is a big feat.
Most drop in consistency
Over the years, if any players can be said to be the most consistent would be the consistent top ranking from the Chinese women players, be it in the singles or doubles disciplines. However, in 2013 there is a drop in form for them. Losing 3 out of 4 finals on the world championships and Super Series Final.
Most sad news
Two young players Bruno Monteverde (Peru), Karyn Velez (Philippines) both passed away this year from car accidents. Badminton legend Eddy Chong also passed away in 2013 at an age of 82, Eddy is a former top Malaysian player and BWF Hall of Famer who has won the All England 4 times.
Most disgraceful incident
We will wrap up this list with the incident between 4 Thailand men’s doubles players during the 2013 Canada Open, while the ladies had a great year with the rise of Ratchanok Intanon and Porntip Buranaprasertsuk. The 2 pairs of young men’s doubles players had a brawl during the final match, former partners Bodin Issara and Maneepong Jongjit and received 2 years and 3 months of suspension respectively. Unfortunately the video has circulated around the global, tarnishing the image of both Thai badminton and badminton as a whole.