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Succession planning on display in Singapore

The new kids on the block and the much eluded stars of the sport will get their chance to shine at the Li-Ning Singapore Open 2012 as the badminton caravan moves to the city-state from Indonesia. 

With most of the household names not entering the draw of the sixth stop of the 2012 OSIM BWF World Superseries event, the opportunity has come for many to shed their “bridesmaid” and “best man” labels as the main draw begins on Wednesday.

Sho Sasaki and Lee Hyun Il are the top two seeds in the men’s singles draw, the biggest attraction of which will be Indonesians Taufik Hidayat and Sony Dwi Kuncoro. After Kuncoro’s recent exploits at the SCG Thailand Open, which he won, and the Djarum Indonesia Open 2012, where he reached the quarterfinals, there will be a lot of attention on Kuncoro’s comeback spark.

Interestingly, he takes on China’s fifth seed Du Pengyu, who beat him in the quarterfinals in Indonesia. Pengyu showed amazing tenacity in his journey to the final, and if he can get past the resurgent Kuncoro, he might be able to challenge for his first Superseries title.

The new dawn for men’s singles has been steadily on the rise – and no better than a pre-Olympic Games event to ease the transition as the veterans are eyeing their retirement post-London 2012.

Japan’s young gun Kenichi Tago (pictured right) is seeded as high as the third seed in this tournament, while Denmark’s 18-year-old junior sensation Viktor Axelsen (pictured left) will be the lone flag bearer for Denmark in the main draw. 2008 World Junior Champion Wang Zhengming is clearly part of China’s succession plan, while Korea have theirs in the mould of recently crowned Yonex-Sunrise India Open champion Shon Wan Ho.

India’s P Kashyap, who upset the top-seeded Chen Long last week, will be joined by a palette of rising talents from his country in the form of Ajay Jayaram, Sourabh Verma, and Guru Sai Dutt– who have qualified on Tuesday.

Likewise in the women’s singles, it won’t be a cakewalk for the world No.7 Juliane Schenk who is the highest ranked player in the draw. Standing in her way to the coveted Superseries title are a bunch of fresh faces, who already have significant senior titles to their names despite their youth.

Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasetsuk was a Superseries winner in India last year, while 16-year-old Busana Ongbumrungpan lifted the Yonex-Sunrise Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold event just last month. 18-year-old Tai Tzu Ying of Taipei was a runner-up in Singapore just two years ago.

Korea’s 20-year-old Sung Ji Hyun (pictured right), a semi-finalist in Indonesia last week, has already undone the Chinese aces on several occasions. And another dangerous outsider is the lanky PV Sindhu, a trainee of the P Gopichand Academy, and considered by many to be the next big thing in Indian badminton.

The 16-year-old had beaten both Tai Tzu Ying and Sung Ji Hyun at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open in April, and she can do some damage in Singapore as well.

Results of the Qualifying day of the 2012 Li Ning Singapore Open can be found here.

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