With a well balanced singles line-up, coach Tey Seu Bock has his work cut out and has to focus on getting his doubles combinations right, writes Dev Sukumar.
The sports loving financial capital of the country, known for its hustle and bustle will do well to take a break and enjoy the world class badminton that is going to be dished out in the newly inaugurated Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel indoor stadium. The team, owned by former cricketing great Sunil Gavaskar, actor Nagarjuna and V Chamundeshwarnath, former Andhra Ranji Trophy captain, won the bidding war for Lee Chong Wei with a spend of USD 135,000. The team also picked German singles player Marc Zwiebler and the current All England Open champion Tine Baun. Vladimir Ivanov fills the remaining overseas spot with Pranav Jerry Chopra, Manu Attri, Siki Reddy, PC Thulasi, Rasika Raje and Sumeet Reddy making up the Indian contingent.
The huge sum spend on Lee Chong Wei has not restricted their choice in the other departments. Owning Chong Wei gives them a great advantage up front, as he is likely to win every match he figures in. With the exception of Lin Dan and Chen Long, no player has troubled Lee over the last two years.
But while all the attention has been on the world No.1, the Masters have managed a few other smart buys. They got Germany’s Marc Zwiebler, for instance, for a decent price of USD 15,000. Zwiebler has had a superb season, and he is probably the best No.2 men’s singles player a team could have hoped for. The German is a tough, never-say-die player who will give it his all, and a player with that attitude is indispensable in a team event.
The other interesting member of the squad is Tine Baun. She announced her retirement this year, and her career ended dream-like with a win at her favourite tournament, the All England. Despite being out of top-level competition for a few months now, Baun can hold her own and could easily show her dominance on the court.
Another great buy for the Masters was Vladimir Ivanov, who is one of the few players worldwide who can multi-task in singles and both forms of doubles. Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov are No.14 in the world, and their recent performances have been top-class. They reached the final of the Thailand Open and the semi-finals of the Indonesia Open and Ivanov’s competence in three categories gives Mumbai Masters great leverage.
Doubles and the Indian contingent
The Masters might opt for Ivanov to pair Manu Attri, but they might also prefer an all Indian pair (Pranaav Chopra with Attri), for although they play with different partners, they have been part of the Indian international squad for a few years, and are likely to combine better. Ivanov is more likely to partner Sikki Reddy for the mixed doubles.
Also, Tine Baun will be at her best going into the league after winning the All England recently. Her style of play is unique – her long limbs ensure great reach with minimum footwork, and the sting in her powerful smashes is still intact. She can perform her best against young players like PV Sindhu (Awadhe Warriors), Tai Tzu Ying (Banga Beats), not to mention her tireless rivals Juliane Schenk (Pune Pistons) or Saina Nehwal (Hyderabad Hotshots). The badminton lovers can surely look forward to some interesting games ahead.
Overall, Mumbai Masters have a strong team. With one singles win almost guaranteed by Lee Chong Wei, the team’s doubles fortunes can be taken care of by Ivanov. With Zwiebler and Baun expected to perform to their potential, the Masters can be a very strong contender for the title.
Highest ranking in BWF: 1st
11th Under-19 Player: Harsheel Dani Team:
|1||Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia)||MS|
|2||Marc Zwiebler (Germany)||MS|
|3||Tine Baun (Denmark)||WS|
|4||Vladimir Ivanov (Russia)||MD/XD|
|5||Pranav Jerry Chopra (India)||MD/XD|
|6||Manu Attri (India)||MD/XD|
|7||Siki Reddy (India)||XD|
|9||Rasika Raje (India)||WS|
|10||Sumeet Reddy (India)||MD|