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(Photo: Badmintonphoto)
Preview: Denmark Open 2021
Date: 10/19/2021 2:45 PM
Published by : Yash Sharma
The world of badminton is back to its glorious best as the top players compete for the prestigious Super 750 title today onwards.

The home favourite is the title favourite 
Following Kento Momota’s unfortunate accident last January, the Danish superstar Viktor Axelsen has effectively replaced him as the “player to beat”. The Japanese world number one is still struggling to find his supreme form that saw him claim 11 titles in 2019. Meanwhile, in a bid to set his dismal 14-1 record against Momota straight, the home favourite has taken his game to another level. The world number two has won the Olympic crown and lost just two matches this year, which also happened to be finals. 

Is it too much to expect another Momota vs Axelsen final showdown? Perhaps! 

Once safely through the earlier rounds, Momota is expected to face the Indonesian hero Jonatan Christie in the quarterfinals. The sixth seed is playing his best-ever badminton: delivering the Thomas Cup for his country after 19 years, last week. However, the exertion might wear him down. 

In the bottom quarter, Axelsen is likely to have his hands full against the reigning All England champion Lee Zii Jia at the same stage. The Malaysian is one of the two players to have beaten the Dane in 2021. The other is his compatriot Anders Antonsen.

While the third seed Antonsen will face his friend Rasmus Gemke in the opener in the repeat of last year’s final, he might have to contend with the Olympic bronze medallist Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in the quarterfinals. It must be pointed out that the top two Chinese athletes: Chen Long and Shi Yu Qi are missing from the draw. 

Can Akane Yamaguchi go all the way?
In the absence of the Olympic finalists Chen Yufei and Tai Tzu Ying, arguably the current top two players in the category, Akane Yamaguchi’s recent form suggests at least a finals appearance. She can expect to fight either Pusarla V. Sindhu or An Se Young for the title. Interestingly, the Japanese ace has lost to both of them in their latest matchups. 

Leading the European charge, the Danish star Mia Blichfeldt is expected to reach the semifinals, making it through a relatively easy top quarter. There, she will probably face either of the above two players. While Line Hojmark Kjærsfeldt is drawn to play Yamaguchi in the first round, Line Christophersen will face the seventh seed Pornpawee Chochuwong. 

Having finished fourth at the Olympics, He Bing Jiao is another player to look out for in women’s singles. 

A hotly contested category 
Even with the best Chinese pair Li Jun Hui/ Liu Yu Chen and the top two Japanese pairs Takeshi Kamura/ Keigo Sonoda and Hiroyuki Endo/ Yuta Watanabe missing, the men’s doubles category is too close to call. While the Olympic champions Lee Yang/ Wang Chi-Lin might be the slight favourites, there are multiple equally good pairs eager to beat them this time. They are drawn to face the Olympic bronze medallists Aaron Chia/ Soh Wooi Yik in the quarterfinals. 

The Indonesians Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/ Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Fajar Alfian/ Muhammad Rian Ardianto are capable of reaching the semifinals. However, they will respectively face tough opposition in form of the Danes Kim Astrup/ Anders Skaarup Rasmussen, who wish to amend their nightmare Denmark Open last year and the Indians Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/ Chirag Shetty. 

The second seeds Mohammad Ahsan/ Hendra Setiawan will have to overcome Mark Lamsfuss/ Marvin Seidel in the first round. 

The Olympic champions
Following the retirement of the Tokyo silver medallists Chen Qingchen/ Jia Yifan in the first round, the Olympic champions Greysia Polii/ Apriyani Rahayu are the clear favourites to go all the way. In their path will be the Stoeva sisters in the quarterfinals. 

The bottom half will be more closely contested with the top two Korean pairs Lee Sohee/ Shin Seungchan and Kim Soyeong/ Kong Heeyong seeded second and third respectively. They will have to battle past the eighth seeds Chloe Birch/ Lauren Smith and the scratch Japanese pairing of Yuki Fukushima/ Arisa Higashino respectively, to go far in the tournament. 

It will be surprising to have any other pair except the top seeds Wang Yi Lyu/ Huang Dong Ping atop the podium in the mixed doubles category. While the second and third seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh/ Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Praveen Jordan/ Melati Daeva Oktavianti respectively will hope to shrug off their poor form and seek better fortunes, the fourth-seeded Japanese Yuta Watanabe/ Arisa Higashino will wish to avenge their loss to the top seeds in Tokyo. 

The sixth seeds Marcus Ellis/ Lauren Smith can hope to make the semifinals by repeating their victory over the second seeds. Tang Chun Man/ Tse Ying Suet can be expected to reach the quarterfinals as well. 

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