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(Photo: Badminton Photo)
Preview: Men’s Singles
Date: 1/10/2021 2:12 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
All eyes are on Thailand this month as we will be treated to three high-level tournaments in a row. Here is what we can look forward to in the men’s singles.
 
With the return of Kento Momota put on hold, the other contenders will be circling the great title opportunity in Thailand. Who will take it?

In what could be a repeat of the Denmark Open semifinal, the number two and three in the world, Anders Antonsen and Chou Tien Chen find themselves in the bottom half of the draw. Although, they will both be challenged for the top four come Saturday by the likes of India’s Srikanth Kidambi, who also travelled for the Denmark Open in October, losing in a tight three games to Chou in the quarterfinal. 

Also, Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia, who certainly caught the eye when making a run to the All England Open final on his first attempt, will be hoping to make another big statement on the world stage. 

Antonsen will face another Malaysian hopeful Daren Liew in his first match. Last time they played was Antonsen’s first match on court at the 2019 World Championships in Basel. That time the Dane went all the way to the final. Perhaps this will be a good omen in Bangkok. 

Mental challenge
The number four seed, Viktor Axelsen, who missed out on the tournament at the tail end of 2020, returns to the court. On Instagram, he documents the challenges players face at a tournament with a very different feel. Particularly the isolation in the room taking quite some getting used to with restricted access to the practice hall and gym. For Axelsen, this is also the first time he is away from his newly born daughter, but he is happy that badminton is back playing again. 

Axelsen is following up from his All England Open victory back in March 2020, and curiously his first-round opponent in Birmingham is also who he meets first in Bangkok. Thailand’s Sittikom Thammasin will attempt to turn the home-court advantage to his favour this time. 

Promoted From Reserve (PFR)
After being promoted from reserve, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus travels over 5,000 miles to face a player he faces in training every day, Rasmus Gemke. All-Danish clashes are often gruelling affairs, with both players knowing each other's game so well, but Gemke, the Denmark Open finalist, may have the edge in form in this one. 

Spain’s Luís Enrique Peñalver also is promoted from reserve and will face the three-time World Junior Champion, Kunlavut Vitidsarn. The 20-year-old impressively had match points against Lin Dan at the All England Open. Here at home, he will be desperate to announce himself to the senior badminton world. 

The tournament will take place 12-17 January 2021.
 
For the full draw and fixtures, click here

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