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(Photo: Badmintonphoto)
We go again in Paris
Date: 10/26/2021 12:24 PM
Published by : Sara Gonzalez Martinez
After weeks of non-stop huge badminton events for the last month, we say goodbye to October with one of Europe’s best tournaments, starting today. 

The YONEX French Open is one of Europe’s most historic events, as well as arguably boasting the title of the one with the best crowd atmosphere in the continent. Some things have changed since it last took place in 2019, with last year’s cancellation due to COVID-19 having forced fans to go a year without the big tournament.

The last month has been extremely busy, with the Sudirman Cup, the Thomas and Uber Cup and the Denmark Open having taken place with hardly a break in-between. We are getting closer to the World Championships, and some players are understandably starting to feel the tiredness and the pressure. So, the French Open is back but there are many question marks around it.

A long run that is starting to take its toll
We have seen some of the world’s top players feeling the exhaustion on court, so it remains to be seen who can keep up with the hectic pace.

Women’s singles champion and current world number eight An Seyoung has delivered some outstanding performances and just last week reached the final at the Denmark Open, but the Korean player was visibly drained at some points of her matches. 

Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, who had to settle for a semifinal finish at the event two years ago, has flown to France as the newly crowned Denmark Open champion, his first time winning the title. Upon defeating Japan’s Kento Momota in a final that stretched to over one hour and a half, the Dane showed that he was willing to fight on French soil but would also be paying attention to his shape.

- The French Open on Wednesday… I have to at least go home now, and then we will just see how I feel the next few days, Viktor Axelsen said to TV 2 SPORT.

Some empty spots up for grabs
China is the one missing giant of the French Open. They have taken Europe and the world by storm after becoming the Sudirman Cup 2021 champions in Finland and in Aarhus at the Uber Cup, as well as ending as runner-ups at the Thomas Cup. 

Chen Long will not be able to defend his title so it is up for grabs and will be a thrilling race to witness. All the men’s singles players that were on the podium in 2019—Jonatan Christie, Viktor Axelsen, and Anthony Ginting—will be competing for the crown. 

However, there are some players following closely behind. Kento Momota showed in the Denmark Open final that he is ready to fight and is close to being back at his 100 per cent, and Lee Zii Jia and Chou Tien Chen are just as hungry for key wins.

Women’s singles will have An Seyoung trying to defend the title against some fierce opponents. In the last French Open, Carolina Marin and Tai Tzu Ying got the silver and bronze respectively and will not be there to pose a threat for the 19-year-old Korean player. However, Akane Yamaguchi, who also got a bronze the last time, has just defeated An in an exhilarating final, and the Japanese player will be looking to repeat her success in Denmark. 

Some strong pairs to watch out for
The Minions will also be trying to defend their title. Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/ Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo will need to step up their game as they have failed to reach the level that the audience expects from them. The 2019 runners-up Satwiksairaj/ Chirag Shetty will also be battling on court this edition.

Hiroyuki Endo/ Yuta Watanabe will not be defending their spot on the podium, and three Danish pairs have withdrawn from the category—including the number six seeds Kim Astrup/ Anders Skaarup Rasmussen following their exhausting run to the Denmark Open final. Also, Rasmussen has just become a father. 

Korea got away with the gold and bronze in the 2019 French Open. Lee Sohee/Shin Seungchan and Kim Soyeong/Kong Heeyong are back, and so is Yuki Fukushima who got the bronze—only this time, she will try to reach the podium once again with Arisa Higashino. 

New pair Margot Lambert/Anne Tran won their first tournament together at the Polish International 2021, and they have the chance to give their all on home soil. Other home favourites are Thom Gicquel/ Delphine Delrue, but the pair announced their withdrawal last night due to Gicquel’s injury.

Defending mixed doubles champions Praveen Jordan/ Melati Oktavianti are going in strong but they will have to watch out for top seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh/ Sapsiree Taerattanachai who they lost against in the Denmark Open semifinals just last week. 

Yuta Watanabe/ Arisa Higashino got bronze in 2019 and became the 2021 Denmark Open mixed doubles champions after defeating the Thai pair.
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