(Photo: Badminton Photo)
Preview: Who will come out on top?
Date: 1/26/2021 1:53 PM
Published by : Louis Hinnant
The BWF World Tour Finals 2020 starts tomorrow and the finals will be held on Sunday 31 January. Here is the preview of what to look forward to. 

Men’s Singles
Coming off consecutive wins at the YONEX and TOYOTA Thailand Opens, 2017 World Champion Viktor Axelsen is the clear favourite.

BWF commentators Gill Clark and Morten Frost have sung Axelsen’s praises this fortnight; he has been looking in peak physical and mental form.

Along the way he defeated Chou Tien Chen and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, boding well for his chances this week as they’ve been drawn into his group A. Malaysia’s ace Lee Zii Jia, who he defeated in the All England Open semifinal, rounds out the group.
In group B news, Danish number two Anders Antonsen hasn’t been playing to his usual standard these past two weeks, with exits at the second round and semifinal stages to countryman Hans-Kristian Vittinghus.

Despite these results, he remains positive.

Antonsen’s YouTube channel has been increasingly popular with fans as he shares his thoughts on the World Tour Finals in his latest vlog.

- I’m excited to play again, I feel that I have a lot of work to do, a lot of things I want to try to improve.

Some might say he has the easier group, but we’ll see if his opponents can pull off the upset, especially first-week finalist Ng Ka Long.

Unfortunately, the rule is that only two players from the same country can qualify, so compatriot Rasmus Gemke, despite being fourth in the Road to Bangkok Rankings, narrowly misses out.
Women’s Singles
Although four out of five events at the Thailand Opens this year were won by the same entrants, Marin has been the most dominant, winning both her titles without dropping a single game.

After winning the second title, she shared the mindset behind her pushing the envelope despite winning every other major tournament badminton has to offer.

- When we finished 2020, I told my team that I want to be a new player with a new mindset. More focused on the game and to keep improving. 

Marin is a player who thrives on momentum and reading into her attitude here these victories will certainly bolster her chances to make it three titles on the trot, and her first World Tour Finals title.

In a historic first, Russia’s Evgeniya Kosetskaya became the first singles player from her country to qualify for the World Tour Finals.

She will be in the same group with Marin, An Se Young (who looked unstoppable until running into Marin, twice) and Canada’s Michelle Li.

Men’s Doubles
The Russian pair of Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov have been trying to recapture the level of play they demonstrated in their 2016 All England Open win, and they’re in with a chance this week. They’ll be facing stiff competition though as they’ve been drawn against Ahsan/Setiawan, Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik, and Choi Sol Gyu/Seo Seung Jae, and they’ve crashed out in the first round twice in Thailand.

The English duos of Chris Ellis/Marcus Langridge and Ben Lane/Sean Vendy have been drawn into the same group. In an ideal English world, both will make it out, however, first seeds Lee/Wang of Chinese Taipei are in top form, capturing titles two weeks in a row.

Women’s Doubles
The two European entries to the women’s doubles contest have been drawn into the same group. The English pair of Chloe Birch and Lauren Smith are favoured on paper, having made slightly deeper runs in the Asian leg, and also winning their meeting at last year’s All England. We’ll see if Germany’s Linda Efler and Isabel Herttrich can reverse that result.

Mixed Doubles
In an unprecedented twist, European pairs occupy the top two spots in the World Tour rankings for these Finals, despite Puavaranukroh/Taerattanachai of Thailand winning both titles this past fortnight.

Coming off two second-round finishes, England’s Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith are at the top of Group A but will need a strong showing to battle past the aforementioned Thai pair, plus Praveen Jordan/Melati Daeva Oktavianti of Indonesia and Seo Seung Jae/Chae Yoo Jung of Korea.

The German pair of Mark Lamsfuss/Isabel Herttrich will have it slightly easier, but lost to the French duo of Thom Gicquel/Delphine Delrue last week, also in their group B.

Gicquel/Delrue came away with an exceptional semifinal showing at the YONEX Thailand Open, overturning their loss to Jordan/Oktavianti the week prior. When asked if they were surprised by the result, their answer was without hesitation.

- Everybody was surprised except us because we already beat them last year, so we knew we can win if we play at a good level, and last week it was close, so we were confident before the match

Let’s see if they can carry that spirit into the BWF World Tour Finals. For the full list of fixtures, click here

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