The 113th edition of the All England Badminton Championships is set to go underway from March 17 to March 21 at the Arena Birmingham and is going to be highly competitive with the Japanese team including world number one Kento Momota participating in the tournament. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting the world and the event not counting for Olympic qualification, the Chinese, South Koreans and Chinese Taipei will not be a part of the Super 1000 event.
However, Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen and Spain’s Carolina Marin, who have both been in top form winning three of the won titles this year in their respective singles competitions, will be taking part in the championships.
The draw for the five-day event has been released by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal have contrasting draws. Sindhu comparatively has it easy to begin with while Saina has some tricky fixtures going ahead in women’s singles.
Sindhu, seeded fifth this year, will start her campaign against Malaysia’s Soniia Cheah and is in line to face Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi in the quarter-finals and arch-nemesis Carolina Marin in the semis. Marin is the top seed in the tournament.
Saina, on the other hand, will face Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt in the first-round clash. Blichfeldt has been in good form recently and got the better of Sindhu at the Thailand Open last month and also helped her side retain the European Mixed Team Championships. With Saina not being in the best of touch recently, the Dane is expected to give her a run for her money.
In men’s singles, Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap also have tough fixtures to begin with. Srikanth is set to start against Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto in the first round while Kashyap will go head-to-head against world No. 1 Kento Momota in the opening round. B Sai Praneeth will kick off against Toma Junior Popov of France. HS Prannoy and Lakshya Sen take on Malaysia’s Liew Daren and Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen respectively. Meanwhile, Sameer Verma will play Brazil’s Ygor Coelho in the first round.
In the double’s section, the pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will take on Eloi Adam and Julien Maio of France in the first round while the pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will face Thailand’s Benyapa Aimsaard and Nuntakarn Aimsaard.
A good showing in the All England Championships will be very important for the Indians as the tournament will act as a route to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics later this year.
Following a bad showing at the Swiss Open, Saina will need to have a good show at the All England to boost her chance of qualifying for the Olympics while Sindhu’s run till the final in Basel aided her in the similar quest. In the men’s category, Srikanth and Sai Preneeth also did well to make strides towards the same but Kashyap’s first round exit meant he wasn’t able to make much progress towards Tokyo.