Friday, July 21, 2017
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
Powerhouse China have secured the maximum representation of four qualifiers in each of the five categories at the upcoming TOTAL BWF World Championships, but will miss the services of two-time runner-up Li Xuerui.
Former Olympic champion Li hasn’t played competitively since sustaining an injury at the Rio Olympics in August last year, yet was fourth among the reserves and well placed to qualify. However, the invitation was declined as she is still recovering from the injury. China’s hopes in Women’s Singles will be shouldered by Sun Yu (featured image), He Bingjiao, Chen Yufei and Chen Xiaoxin.
Japan showcased their strength in Women’s Singles and Women’s Doubles with four qualifiers each. Emerging power India, similarly, secured four qualifiers in Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles – categories in which they have achieved tremendous results in recent times.
BCA Indonesia Open champion Sayaka Sato of Japan, the highest reserve in Women’s Singles, qualified along with other reserve players such as Chen Xiaoxin, India’s Rituparna Das, Indonesia’s Lyanny Alessandra Mainaky and India’s Tanvi Lad.
Sayaka Sato has three compatriots in Women’s Singles – Akane Yamaguchi, Nozomi Okuhara and Aya Ohori, who had qualified in Phase 1.
India achieved their full quota of four Women’s Singles players with Rituparna Das and Tanvi Lad qualifying behind Pusarla V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal. China, Japan and India are the only three countries with four representatives in Women’s Singles.
Japan have a formidable presence in Women’s Doubles with their top four pairs qualifying. First reserves Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota – winners of the Celcom Axiata Malaysia Open – comfortably qualified behind Phase 1 qualifiers and compatriots Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi, Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao and Yonex-Sunrise India Open winners Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto.
China, who have long dominated this category, will also field four pairs – Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan, Luo Ying/Luo Yu, Huang Dongping/Li Yinhui and second reserves Bao Yixin/Yu Xiaohan.
Apart from Japan and China, Korea have four qualifiers – reserves Kim Hye Rin/Yoo Hae Won and Chae Yoo Jung/Kim So Yeong will join Phase 1 qualifiers Lee So Hee/Chang Ye Na and Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan.
France will be happy as three of their Women’s Doubles pairs made the list – Emilie Lefel/Anne Tran, Lorraine Baumann/Audrey Fontaine and Delphine Delrue/Lea Palermo.
A few eligible players and pairs from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Chinese Taipei declined their invitations as they will be participating in the SEA Games or Summer Universiade that coincide with the World Championships.
India’s improving fortunes in Men’s Singles is reflected by their four qualifiers. Fourth reserve Sameer Verma secured his place alongside compatriots Ajay Jayaram, Kidambi Srikanth and Sai Praneeth.
Other countries with four qualifiers are China, Denmark and Hong Kong. China will bank upon reigning champion Chen Long (wild card), five-time winner Lin Dan, Shi Yuqi and Tian Houwei, while Denmark’s young prospect Anders Antonsen plays the biggest event of his fledgling career alongside senior compatriots Viktor Axelsen, Jan O Jorgensen and Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus.
Hong Kong too have a strong Men’s Singles squad, with the likes of Ng Ka Long, Wong Wing Ki, Hu Yun and sixth reserve Wei Nan having qualified.
Indonesia will have three Men’s Doubles pairs on duty in Men’s Doubles – in-form pair Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, Angga Pratama/Ricky Karandasuwardi and Mohammad Ahsan/Rian Agung Saputro.
Korea, a traditional power in Men’s Doubles but who have seen prominent retirements over the past year, accepted the invitation of one pair – No.73 Chung Eui Seok/Kim Duk Young.
Like Denmark and China, Japan have four pairs – Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda, Yugo Kobayashi/Takuro Hoki, Yuki Kaneko/Takuto Inoue and seventh reserves Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe.
All the three doubles categories won’t see the reigning champions. Men’s Doubles champions Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan’s (Indonesia) invitation was declined (Ahsan has qualified with Rian Agung Saputro), while Chinese star Zhao Yunlei’s retirement last year meant that she won’t be around to defend her two titles – in Women’s Doubles (with Tian Qing, also retired) and Mixed Doubles (with Zhang Nan).
China’s Mixed Doubles campaign will be led by Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen and Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong, who, between them, have won all but one of the six World Superseries titles this season. Zhang Nan/Li Yinhui and third reserves Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping are also headed to Glasgow.
Chinese Taipei, Indonesia and France too have four qualified pairs in Mixed Doubles.
The full quota of players in all five categories has been filled. Any withdrawal until 48 hours before the draw on 9 August 2017 will be filled by the highest eligible reserve player.
The TOTAL BWF World Championships will be held in Emirates Arena, Glasgow, from 21 to 27 August 2017.
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