Sudirman Cup Finals: China aims to defend title as qualifications for Paris 2024 kick off

The world badminton mixed team championships, known as the BWF Sudirman Cup, will be held in Suzhou, China from May 14-21

Beijing, May 13 (IANS) The world badminton mixed team championships, known as the BWF Sudirman Cup, will be held in Suzhou, China from May 14-21 as the host team aims to defend their record-extending 13th title and the world’s best shuttlers kick off their qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

China has won the Sudirman Cup 12 times in the last 17 editions and reached every final since 1995. The last two tournaments were held in Nanning, China and Vantaa, Finland, with China winning both, reports Xinhua.

The Chinese squad this time is not much different from the previous two editions, including Olympic champion Chen Yufei, world champion Shi Yuqi, and world’s ace pairs Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan and Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong.

Zhang Jun, president of the Chinese Badminton Association, said that China’s only goal in the upcoming tournament is to defend their title.

In the four-group, 16-team format, China is the runaway favorite in Group A, together with Denmark, Singapore and African champion Egypt.

“The opponents in this group may not be powerful, but we will definitely meet strong teams after advancing, so we have to be prepared for the toughest in every match,” Zhang said.

China’s biggest opponents in the group stage are Denmark – with world and Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen in men’s singles and Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen in men’s doubles – and Singapore, led by 2021 world champion Loh Kean Yew.

In contrast, Group C, which brings together Malaysia, Chinese Taipei and India, is called the “Group of Death”; In Group D, there are two powerful teams, Japan and South Korea, and the contest between them will attract much attention.

Looking ahead to the tournament, Zhang said that Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Denmark, Malaysia and Thailand are much more competitive and will be “relatively difficult to play.”

Japan has never won the Sudirman Cup and was favourites to win the last two editions, losing to China in both of the finals. Japan surprisingly excluded former world No. 1 Kento Momota from the team, while women’s world No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi will lead the squad.

South Korea, a four-time winner of the Sudirman Cup (most recently in 2017), is led by women’s singles world No.2 An Se-young.

India won the men’s team world title, the Thomas Cup, last year, and will fight against a Lee Zii Jia-led Malaysia and Chinese Taipei with reliable singles stars Chou Tien-chen and Tai Tzu-ying in Group C, which also includes Australia.

Indonesia won the inaugural edition at home, the one and only time they’ve taken the title. This time their major opponent in Group B is Thailand.

Indonesia has a balanced squad with Asian champion Anthony Sinisuka Ginting and Jonatan Christie of men’s singles, and men’s doubles world No. 1 Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto.

–IANS

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