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BADMINTON

Danes vie for badminton crown at home

Danish hopes Jan Ø Jørgensen, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus and Viktor Axelsen will hope the home support at the Badminton World Cup in Copenhagen will be enough to best world number one Lee Chong Wei, who has defeated Jørgensen in 12 of 13 previous meetings.

Danes vie for badminton crown at home
Peter Gade, Viktor Axelsen and Jan Ø Jørgensen. Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Scanpix
Danish third seed Jan Ø Jørgensen will have no shortage of support as he tries to become the first European to win the Badminton World Cup since compatriot Peter Rasmussen triumphed in 1997.
 
Standing in his way will at Ballerup Super Arena in suburban Copenhagen be world number one Lee Chong Wei, who hopes to capitalise on the absence of leading rival and five-time world champion Lin Dan of China as he pursues a first world championship crown.
 
Malaysia's Lee, runner-up to Lin at the past two world events as well the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, will have the chance to emerge from the shadow of his Chinese counterpart who failed to qualify after taking an eight-month sabbatical following last year's showdown with Lee in Guangzhou.
 
However, the Malaysian shuttler's preparations have been far from smooth after Lee was forced out of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow with an ongoing thigh problem.
 
Unable to defend his titles from 2006 and 2010, Lee lost his Commonwealth crown in Glasgow to India's Kashyap Parupalli, who is a likely second-round opponent for the top seed in Denmark.
 
First though Lee must navigate his way past South Korea's 32nd-ranked Lee Dong-keun in the opening round, his first match since losing in the semi-finals of June's Indonesian Open.
 
"I have not played in a competitive match for nearly two months, so my first-round match will be very important. I hope to make a good start," Lee, 31, was quoted as saying by Malaysian media.
 
Chen carrying Chinese hopes
China's Chen Long is viewed as the greatest threat to Lee's title ambitions but it's largely been a year to forget for the second seed.
 
The 25-year-old Chen is without a title since seeing off Lee in the final of January's Korea Open and faces further pressure following the withdrawal of compatriot and 2013 world bronze medallist Du Pengyu on top of Lin's non-participation.
 
"With Lin Dan not playing in the world championships, the Chinese will surely be banking on Chen Long to deliver," said Lee's coach Rashid Sidek, who was given the green light to travel to Copenhagen with his protege after resolving a dispute with the Malaysian federation having initially been excluded.
 
"I'm not sure of his latest conditions. But with him not playing well since the Thomas Cup, you can expect the Chinese coaching department to make some adjustment to his training regime to strengthen his game. China will go all out to defend the men's singles title," added Rashid.
 
Chen's route to the final was made easier after Kenichi Tago, the Japanese fourth seed, was forced out last week through injury.
 
With Tago sidelined, the main challengers for the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist will be Indonesia's Tommy Sugiarto, Son Wan-ho of South Korea and Hong Kong's Hu Yun.
 
Jørgensen beat Chen on his way to the Indonesian Open title and, like his Chinese rival, has seen his quarter of the draw open up with Indonesia's Simon Santoso, the eighth seed, pulling out after contracting dengue fever.
 
The Dane, joined in the draw by seeded compatriots Hans-Kristian Vittinghus and Viktor Axelsen, is on course for a semi-final showdown with Lee who has defeated Jørgensen in 12 of 13 previous meetings.
 
The women's draw is headed by Chinese top seed and Olympic champion Li Xuerui who will aim to go one better than her silver medal at last year's championships where she was defeated by Thailand's Ratchanko Intanon, the fourth seed in Copenhagen. Li's fellow countrywomen Wang Shixian and Wang Yihan, the 2011 world champion, are seeded second and third respectively with London Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal of India occupying the seventh spot.

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MATCH-FIXING

Denmark makes racket over ‘match-fixing’ Chinese badminton players

The national association for badminton in Denmark says the sport’s world federation should punish Chinese players for a match at last week’s Fuzhou China Open which has been described as a “farce”.

Denmark makes racket over 'match-fixing' Chinese badminton players
China's Junhui Li, left, and Yuchen Liu, seen here during a different match, lost in the controversial quarter-final in Fuzhou. AP Photo/Aaron Favila/Ritzau Scanpix

Bo Jensen, director of Badminton Denmark, wants the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to take action after seeing footage of a quarter final match in which He Jiting and Ta Qiang defeated Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen in three sets.

“I am giving my support to the criticism. This is cheating, it’s match-fixing and we can’t accept it,” Jensen said to TV2 Sport.

“In our context, this is just as bad as doping, and it must be punished because if it is not, we will damage the sport’s reputation amongst fans and the many sponsors that are making huge investments at the moment,” he added.

Several Danish badminton players are reported to have been present during the match. Doubles pair Mads Pieler Kolding and Mads Conrad-Petersen lodged a complaint with tournament organisers following the match about the way it had been played.

Another player, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, later posted an update on Facebook in which he compared the match to a scandal during the 2012 Olympic Games in London, when eight players from China, South Korea and Indonesia were disqualified for deliberately trying to lose.

“This was a complete farce of a match which made me think of the London Olympics when 4 pairs deliberately tried to lose their matches. I kid you not, it was this bad,” Vittinghus wrote, citing errors in play that “just (don’t) happen at this level”.

“Difficult to get hard evidence, but if you have watched a bare minimum of world class badminton, you’d know what just happened,” he also wrote.

The BWF told TV2 Sport that it would not comment on the issue prior to receiving a report from the tournament’s organisers.

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