Wednesday, June 17, 2015
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
A sure indicator of the competitiveness of the upcoming TOTAL BWF World Championships is that all top-eight qualifiers in both singles categories are World Superseries winners.
The Badminton World Federation’s recently-published qualifying list (Phase II) shows a draw which will prove a likely coronation by fire for the eventual – and worthy – champions.
The Men’s Singles list sparkles with the finest contemporary names; accomplished veterans and hungry youngsters, all primed for their shot at glory. China’s Chen Long (featured image; left) heads the roll, looking to defend his title after a healthy year so far; his predecessor, Lin Dan, having missed the last BWF World Championships, will be keen to show he still has what it takes. They are followed by Jan O Jorgensen (Denmark; below, left), Kidambi Srikanth (India), Son Wan Ho (Korea), Wang Zhengming (China), Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei) and Kento Momota (Japan; below, right), all boasting at least one World Superseries title. Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, who has been desperately close to winning the world title, is 45th on the list and Malaysia’s second choice behind Zulfadli Zulkiffli (No.41).
Apart from the frontrunners, other names on the list include Kevin Cordon (Guatemala, No.49; right), Edwin Ekiring (Uganda, No.159) and Daniel Guda (Australia, No.202) who have made the cut as representatives of the Continental Confederations of Pan Am, Africa and Oceania respectively.
Korea’s Lee Hyun Il (No.22), veteran of many a battle, made the eligibility list but his invitation was declined, allowing compatriot Lee Dong Keun to compete instead. Similarly, England’s Toby Penty (No.100) has made the list at the expense of compatriot Andrew Smith (No.79).
China’s depth is apparent in the number of qualifications they have secured. In Men’s Singles, three players – Chen Long, Lin Dan and Wang Zhengming – have automatically qualified as they are ranked in the top eight. They can hope for a fourth with Tian Houwei (No.10) listed as first reserve; he will make the list in case of any withdrawal.
The situation is nearly identical in Women’s Singles as China have three direct entries through Li Xuerui (below; left), Wang Shixian and Wang Yihan in the top eight. Compatriot Sun Yu, ranked No.9, is first reserve.
Women’s Singles, despite the imposing presence of the three Chinese, has a number of strong contenders from various countries. Saina Nehwal (India; above), defending champion Carolina Marin of Spain (BWF home page; right) and Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand) have a shot at the title, while players like Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei), Sung Ji Hyun (Korea), Nozomi Okuhara (Japan), PV Sindhu (India) and Michelle Li (Canada; bottom) are all expected to feature in the business end of the tournament.
One prominent name missing will be that of World Junior champion Akane Yamaguchi who has opted to play in a high-school team championship at that time. Japan will be represented by Okuhara, Sayaka Takahashi and Minatsu Mitani. Thailand too have three representatives in Ratchanok Intanon, Busanan Ongbumrungpan and Porntip Buranaprasertsuk. Indonesia have opted to field Maria Febe Kusumastuti and Lindaweni Fanetri ahead of the higher-ranked Adrianti Firdasari. Denmark have declined the entry of European Championships runner-up Anna Thea Madsen; their sole representative being Line Kjaersfeldt.
Eligible players under Phase I and Phase II have been included in the list, along with the reserves. Member associations have until 24 July to decline or withdraw entry of their players. Any player withdrawn will be replaced by a player from the reserves’ list. Seedings will be allotted on 23 July based on the world rankings of that day; the draw will be made four days later, on 27 July 2015. The tournament will be held in Jakarta from 10-16 August 2015.
Each country is allowed a maximum of four entries in every category. Under Phase I and Phase II of the eligibility lists, a country has a maximum quota of four players/pairs if they are ranked within the top eight; three if they are within the top 24, or two if they are within the top 150.