In Men’s Singles, defending champion Chen Long, having won three World Superseries titles this year, is the obvious favourite. But Chen has not been infallible – he suffered losses to Hong Kong’s Hu Yun and India’s Kashyap Parupalli, and was nearly upstaged in The Star Australian Open final by young Dane Viktor Axelsen. It is worth noting Chen’s demise to Parupalli came in the BCA Indonesia Open quarter-finals at the very Istora Senayan.
Spain’s Carolina Marin has been in stellar form in Women’s Singles this year, with three titles. Marin showed that her injury troubles of last year were behind her as she won the Yonex All England, the Maybank Malaysia Open and The Star Australian Open. Her stated goal is to retain the crown she won in dramatic fashion last season and it is left to be seen who will challenge this gritty competitor who is currently the world No.1 also.
Men’s Doubles titlists Ko Sung Hyun/Shin Baek Choel of Korea were missing in action for most of the season until they turned up in Australia where they made the quarter-finals. The next week, however, they hit peak form, winning the BCA Indonesia Open, ensuring they would be among the pairs to watch at Worlds.
Women’s Doubles champions Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei of China played just one event together this season – the All England, in which they reached the semi-finals – following which Tian was paired with other partners, while Zhao focused on Mixed Doubles. Having played so infrequently together, it will be interesting to see how well they fare.
Zhao is also defending Mixed Doubles honours with Zhang Nan. They suffered a rare loss to compatriots Xu Chen/Ma Jin in the Indonesia Open final. Otherwise they have been unbeaten all season. Continuing their winning form from 2014, the top-ranked duo picked up the All England, Malaysia Open and Singapore Open titles while helping China defend the Sudirman Cup on home turf.