Friday, April 27, 2018
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
One of Men’s Singles brightest talents – Kento Momota – is back in badminton’s big time!
Currently vying for the Asian championship, the 23-year-old Japanese has also earned a crack at the World title, qualifying for the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2018 in Nanjing, China this summer.
Based on the BWF World ranking list of 26 April 2018, which determines the eligibility of players under Phase 1 of the qualifying system, Momota has risen to No.17 in the ‘Race to Nanjing’. The former World No.2 player, who missed over a year of competitive badminton before resuming his career last July, has earned his place behind compatriots Kenta Nishimoto (No.13) and Kazumasa Sakai (No.16). A member association (MA) is allowed to field four players in a category if all four are ranked within the top eight, or three players if they are ranked in the top 24, or two players if they are ranked in the top 150.
No country has managed to qualify four players or pairs in any category.
In Men’s Singles, defending champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark (featured image; right) heads the qualifiers; two of his compatriots, Anders Antonsen (No.15) and Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (No.18), have also qualified comfortably.
Reigning Olympic champion Chen Long (No.3) and five-time World champion Lin Dan (No.8), both of China, are in the top eight of the list along with compatriot Shi Yuqi (No.4).
Other prominent names booking their flights to Nanjing are: Son Wan Ho (Korea, No.2), Kidambi Srikanth (India, No.5), Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei, No.6), Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia, No.7), Ng Ka Long (Hong Kong, No.9) and HS Prannoy (India, No.10).
In Women’s Singles, Japan’s Sayaka Sato has edged out compatriot Aya Ohori by just over 4,100 points. Sato (No.13) is the third Japanese behind Akane Yamaguchi (No.1 – featured image; left) and defending champion Nozomi Okuhara (No.6).
Apart from Japan, China (Chen Yufei, He Bingjiao and Chen Xiaoxin) and Thailand (Ratchanok Intanon, Nitchaon Jindapol and Pornpawee Chochuwong) each have three players in Women’s Singles. Chochuwong clinched her spot by just 828 points over her compatriot, Busanan Ongbamrungphan (No.24).
Other well-known names to qualify include Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying (No.2), India’s Pusarla V Sindhu (No.3), Spain’s Carolina Marin (No.7), Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun (No.9) and India’s Saina Nehwal (No.12).
Significantly, in Men’s Doubles, China have only two qualifying pairs – World champions Zhang Nan/Liu Cheng (No.3) and Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen (No.4). Chinese Taipei, Denmark, Indonesia and Japan have three pairs each. Indonesia’s top-ranked pair Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo will be backed by Muhammad Rian Ardianto/Fajar Alfian (No.10) and last year’s runners-up Mohammad Ahsan/Rian Agung Saputro (No.19).
Japan came closest to qualifying four pairs in any category, as their fourth Women’s Doubles pair Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara are ranked No.11. Japan’s hopes will rest on Olympic champions Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (No.3); Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota (No.4) and Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto (No.5).
Reigning champions Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan (China) have qualified in top spot, followed by Yonex All England champions Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Denmark). Apart from Japan, China, Indonesia and Korea have three pairs who have qualified.
Malaysia have three representatives in Mixed Doubles – Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Jemie Lai (No.7); Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing (No.11) and Chan Peng Soon/Cheah Yee See (No.17). Defending champions Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia have qualified in third place, while last year’s runners-up Zheng Seiwei/Chen Qingchen – the pair has been split since then – have qualified in first.
Each of the five continental confederations is entitled to at least one qualifying place in each category. The host MA is entitled to wild cards in each of the five categories, but since China have qualified in all five categories, the host wild card will not be applicable.
BWF are also entitled to nominate a wild card in each category and will confirm by Friday 4 May if it intends to do so. If it decides to, BWF will announce the wild card names by Thursday 10 May. By that same date, member associations have to confirm the entry of their players/pairs who have qualified in Phase 1.
The MAs will be informed by Thursday 17 May of the players/pairs who are eligible to qualify under Phase 2. BWF will also publish the list of reserves to fill the draw should that be necessary.
Member associations will have to confirm the entry of players in Phase 2 by Thursday 24 May.
The TOTAL BWF World Championships will be held in Nanjing from 30 July to 5 August 2018.
NOTE: The full list of qualifiers can be found on the TOTAL BWF World Championships website (Drop-Down Window: Race to Nanjing – 2018 BWF World Championships Qualification)