All England Open 2021: Returning Japanese, Axelsen’s dominance in focus as motion returns to Birmingham

All England Open 2021: Returning Japanese, Axelsen’s dominance in focus as motion returns to Birmingham

The projected return of the Japanese armada, mixed with the withdrawal of the South Korean and Chinese language Taipei squads, and the continued absence of the Chinese language contingent as a result of grim COVID-19 state of affairs at dwelling, kind the key factors of dialogue because the All England Badminton Championships kick-off on the Enviornment Birmingham from Wednesday, 17 March.

The projected return of the Japanese armada, mixed with the withdrawal of the South Korean and Chinese language Taipei squads, and the continued absence of the Chinese language contingent as a result of grim COVID-19 state of affairs at dwelling, kind the key factors of dialogue because the All England Badminton Championships kick-off on the Enviornment Birmingham from Wednesday, 17 March.

Added to the listing of absentees from this prestigious World Tour Tremendous 1000 occasion is Spanish three-time world champion and 2016 Olympic gold medallist, Carolina Marin, who introduced her withdrawal from the competitors. Marin, a 2015 All England winner, sustained a Soleus muscle damage she picked up in the midst of the just lately concluded Swiss Open in Basel.

With the world’s high three ladies – Taiwanese Tai Tzu Ying, China’s Chen Yufei, and Marin – lacking from the fray, the returning Japanese duo of Nozomi Okuhara (the 2017 world champion) and Akane Yamaguchi mechanically don the mantle of pre-tournament favourites for the ladies’s singles title, gained in 2020 by Tai. After all, it’s left to be seen how the 2 Japanese ladies fare, given their prolonged absence from competitors.

All England Open 2021 Returning Japanese Axelsens dominance in focus as action returns to Birmingham

Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara shall be making a comeback at All England Open. File picture.

Yamaguchi’s final World Tour competitors was the 2020 All England, the place she went right down to Marin within the quarter-finals. Okuhara, in the meantime, proved that her sport has not suffered a lot because the begin of the worldwide pandemic, beating Marin to the Denmark Open title final October. It will likely be attention-grabbing to see if the Japanese participant’s lack of aggressive court docket time will have an effect on her sport and health ranges.

The boys’s singles part has no such points, as defending champion and 2017 World Championship winner, Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, will do his finest to retain his maintain over the title within the face of a problem from two-time reigning world champion Kento Momota of Japan, who’s returning to competitors after 14 months within the wilderness, because of a wide range of causes. The 2 males have been positioned at reverse ends of the draw, and may solely encounter one another within the remaining.

Momota met with a probably deadly street accident in Kuala Lumpur on 14 January, 2020, when he was on his strategy to the airport to catch his flight dwelling after successful the Malaysian Open. He suffered critical facial accidents, together with a smashed nostril, and it took a number of months of rehabilitation earlier than he was prepared for worldwide competitions. After which, on the eve of the three tournaments in Thailand earlier this 12 months, he was struck down by COVID-19 , ensuing within the withdrawal of the complete Japanese squad.

The 26-year-old Kagawa-born left-hander can have his work lower out in opposition to the attacking model of Axelsen, who has the excellence of successful 19 out of the final 20 matches he has performed since his triumphant run on the 2020 All England. Following the resumption of the World Tour in November final 12 months, Axelsen has solely misplaced to fellow-countryman Anders Antonsen within the delayed 2020 World Tour remaining in Bangkok, in January this 12 months.

Though the approaching All England is just not a part of the qualification schedule for the Tokyo Olympics, the sheer significance of the occasion within the annual Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) World Tour calendar has induced the Indian squad to be out at full energy in Birmingham. Kidambi Srikanth and Co will do their utmost to emulate the heroics of 1980 winner Prakash Padukone and 2001 champion Pullela Gopichand, who stay the one two Indians to win the coveted title. Prakash Nath was runner-up in 1947, and Saina Nehwal completed second to Marin in 2015.

Clearly, the perfect likelihood of a title triumph among the many Indians is that of present world champion PV Sindhu, who has been seeded fifth and positioned in the identical quarter of the draw because the third-seeded Yamaguchi. Sindhu opens her marketing campaign in opposition to Malaysia’s Soniia Cheah, and can then face the winner of the opening-round conflict between Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung and Denmark’s Line Christophersen. Yamaguchi has a brace of Frenchwomen and a Turk in her path, on the best way to a quarter-final face-off with Sindhu.

Saina, the one different Indian lady within the singles draw, has a terrific likelihood of inflicting an upset, as she encounters Denmark’s seventh-seeded Mia Blichfeldt in her lung-opener on her thirty first birthday on 17 March. The 23-year-old Dane was just lately tamed in straight video games within the Swiss Open semi-finals by Sindhu however has produced a number of robust performances in tournaments staged because the lifting of the tour suspension final October.

The final time Saina and Mia clashed was within the second spherical of the Basel World Championships in August 2019, when Blichfeldt gained in three robust video games at 15-21, 27-25, 21-12. The veteran Indian, who’s clearly within the remaining levels of her fantastic profession, has the potential to reverse that consequence and transfer additional into the event, in 1 / 4 of the draw dominated by Thailand’s fourth-seeded Ratchanok Intanon.

Among the many males, eighth-seeded Kidambi Srikanth is the one Indian to be given delight of inserting, however he faces a number of robust obstacles in his path to a projected quarter-final assembly with Indonesia’s diminutive Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, seeded fourth. Srikanth opens in opposition to scrappy Indonesian Tommy Sugiarto, a former World Championship bronze medallist; and will then face the winner of the conflict between Thailand’s Khosit Phetpradab and Dutchman Mark Caljouw.

Teenager Lakshya Sen, who has just lately recovered from a critical again damage, has a difficult first outing in opposition to Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen. If he wins, he runs into Ginting, with the winner of that match set to come across Srikanth. Sameer Verma ought to get by way of his first outing in opposition to Brazilian Ygor Coelho, however will then run into Basel World Championship runner-up from Denmark, Anders Antonsen, who had the excellence of successful the World Tour finals in Bangkok in January 2021.

All England Open 2021 Returning Japanese Axelsens dominance in focus as action returns to Birmingham

Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen begins favorite amongst males, having gained 19 of his final 20 matches. AFP

Bhamidipati Sai Praneeth, who is just ranked in India behind his Gopichand Academy batch-mate Srikanth, ought to stroll previous his first-round opponent, Toma Junior Popov of France, however will then have his palms full attempting to include the rampant second seed, Axelsen.

Within the high part of the draw, old-timer Parupalli Kashyap will play top-seeded Momota within the very first spherical, with their winner set to tackle the victor within the tie between HS Prannoy and Malaysia’s Daren Liew. This specific quarter of the draw additionally boasts sixth-seeded Malaysian, Lee Zii Jia, who had a forgettable outing within the Swiss Open, and can attempt to reverse some poor latest outcomes.

The 2 Indonesian males’s doubles combos which have been dominating world badminton for the previous couple of years, Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Mohammed Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan (recognized broadly because the ‘Minions’ and ‘Daddies’, respectively, for the huge distinction of their ages) return to motion in Birmingham and have been rightly positioned at reverse ends of the draw.

India’s solely doubles pair to be ranked among the many elite, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, have been given the sixth seeding and positioned for a potential quarter-final assembly with the top-seeded Indonesian Minions. However earlier than they get there, they may have a terrific likelihood to reverse their latest miserable Swiss Open consequence in opposition to Danes Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen, who gained the title in Basel. The 2 crack duos are projected to conflict in opposition to one another within the second spherical.

One fervently hopes that the proficient and hardworking Indian twosome takes full benefit of the absence of the 2 high Chinese language doubles combos, and the shortage of event observe on the a part of the Indonesian duos (all of them have been absent from the three tournaments in Bangkok, earlier this 12 months), and makes critical inroads into the lads’s doubles attract Birmingham.

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