Sony Dwi Kuncoro (@3.0) vs Kodai Naraoka (@1.33)

Our Prediction:

Kodai Naraoka will win

Sony Dwi Kuncoro – Kodai Naraoka Match Prediction | 11-09-2019 09:40

The two oldest singles players on the tour suggest yet another facet of the modern game. Players like Lee Hyun Il (37) and Hu Yun (36) are part of a whole legion of players some recently retired and some still going who kept playing well into their thirties and even if they themselves only combined for about a dozen Superseries titles made it difficult for youngsters to title early.

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The table below shows how the Asian and World Junior Champions have fared in the Superseries. Clearly, almost all of the girls have gone on to senior success. Even most of the few girls singles champions with no Superseries titles have at least won at the Grand Prix Gold level. The boys, on the other hand, are more hit and miss. 7 of those pre-2015 junior champions have yet to win a Grand Prix title.

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So maybe mens singles is just like that, and veterans never get fooled or even outrun by peppy upstarts. Well, that may be partly true but there was a reason we brought it up with Lin Dan back in 2013. Not only was that right after Ratchanok Intanon won the womens singles World Championship title at age 18 but it was also nearly ten years after Lin Dan had won his second major title as a teenager. Lin won the 2002 Korea Open title at age 18 and then the 2003 Denmark Open title a few weeks before turning 20.

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This is certainly a possibility. 2007 had the lowest average age for Superseries singles winners at 24.5 years. Since 2009, the average has fluctuated between 26 and 28. True, players like Fung Permadi (pictured right) and Poul-Erik Hoyer played to the age Lee Chong Wei is now (see the table below) but once again, we have to look at the incredible dominance by Lee and Lin Dan, neither of whom have a retirement yet in sight.

But even more telling are the big names that are absent from the junior lists. Peter Gade won doubles but not singles and Taufik Hidayat and Lin Dan were continental but not world champions. Unable to top a major junior podium at all were then-future mens singles world #1s Chen Hong, Lee Hyun Il, Son Wan Ho (pictured left), and especially all-time Superseries leader Lee Chong Wei.

Actually, if you look at those 15 teenagers who did manage to reach mens singles finals in Grand Prix or Grand Prix Gold events, only one has managed to grab his first Superseries title and World Championship for that matter, since were talking about Viktor Axelsen. Some of those teen finals are quite recent like Kantaphon Wangcharoens silver at the 2017 Thailand Masters and there also are some recent 20th birthdays such as those of Thailand Open runner-up Jonatan Christie and 2014 Indonesia Masters finalist Firman Abdul Kholik. But 10 of them were prior to 2015, and even the first teen Grand Prix mens singles finalist 2009 New Zealand Open runner-up Wong Wing Ki is still in the hunt for his first Superseries title.

But Im not a statistician and frankly, to conclude that mens singles simply shows the tiniest blip among five tiny blips just wouldnt be any fun! Outside the scope here is the notion of statistical significance. True, this analysis does stoop to comparing 0 mens singles titles to 6 mens doubles Superseries titles and that may sound a whole lot like quibbling. After all, those 6 doubles titles were all won by exactly 2 teenagers and each discipline has had 139 champions since the 2007 Malaysia Open.

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Not that it stopped the girls. In roughly the same period, Zhang Ning, Tine Baun, Xu Huaiwen, Pi Hongyan, Julian Schenk, Zhou Mi, and Wang Chen all played past the age of thirty and this did not preclude players like Lu Lan, Wang Lin (pictured left, with Zhou Mi), Saina Nehwal, Wang Yihan, Wang Shixian, Li Xuerui, Ratchanok Intanon, or Tai Tzu Ying from taking major titles before turning twenty.

But once we go down a rung to the Grand Prix Gold level, mens singles is still showing 0 teen winners while mens doubles has Lee Yong Dae and Tan Boon Heong, plus Zheng Siwei, Huang Kaixiang (pictured right), Li Junhui, Liu Yuchen, and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, while in mixed doubles, 3 of those 5 have titled before age 20, along with Zhang Nan, Wang Yilyu, Lee Chun Hei, and just this year He Jiting, Seo Seung Jae, and Dechapol Puavaranukroh. In fact, overall, more major mixed titles have gone to teenaged boys than girls, including the only Olympic gold ever won by a teenager.

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