Emerging stars will brush shoulders with more accomplished seniors as the qualifiers to the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2021 were announced today, followed by the draw.
Young players like Lakshya Sen, Kunlavut Vitidsarn, Line Christophersen, Toma Junior Popov/Christo Popov, Pramudya Kusumawardana/Yeremia Erich Yoche Yacob Rambitan and Pearly Tan/Thinaah Muralitharan will have the opportunity to win the limelight from their seniors as the HSBC BWF World Tour winds down with the season finale in the picturesque seaside resort town of Bali.
Men’s singles in particular has a strong representation of next generation stars like Lakshya Sen, three-time world junior champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn and Toma Junior Popov, who has also qualified in men’s doubles with younger brother Christo. However, with heavyweights like Viktor Axelsen – who has had an incredibly successful 2021 – and Kento Momota in the field, it will be a tall order for the younger players to steal the show over their established rivals.
Interestingly, Axelsen and Momota are both in Group A, with Axelsen’s compatriot Rasmus Gemke and Lakshya Sen. The top two players from each group qualify for the semifinals.
Group B has All England champion Lee Zii Jia, Kidambi Srikanth, Vitidsarn and Toma Junior Popov.
In women’s singles, two of those with back-to-back World Tour titles in the post-Olympic period – Akane Yamaguchi and An Seyoung – are both in Group B, with HYLO Open champion Busanan Ongbamrungphan and Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min.
All England runner-up Pornpawee Chochuwong, reigning world champion Pusarla V Sindhu, Germany’s Yvonne Li and Denmark’s Line Christophersen will face off in Group A.
In men’s doubles, home fans will be thrilled at the qualification of newly-minted stars Kusumawardana/Rambitan, who take on in-form Japanese duo Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi, Ong Yew Sin/Teo Ee Yi, and the Popov brothers in Group B.
“We are proud to have qualified as we are still a young pair, but we will try our best to win this title,” said Kusumawardana.
Home favourites Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo made the finals of their last four events, and having won the Indonesia Open last Sunday, will head into the season finale full of confidence. Fans will look forward to their Group A clash with, among others, Olympic champions Lee Yang/Wang Chi-Lin.
In women’s doubles, Indonesian fans’ hopes will be pinned on Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu, who are in their final stretch as a pair, with Polii’s retirement looming in the not-too-distant future. The Olympic champions, in Group A, will hope for a last hurrah on home soil after being thwarted on Sunday by Japan’s Nami Matsuyama/Chiharu Shida.
The Japanese are on a roll, having won both Bali Leg tournaments in the last two weeks. Shida/Matsuyama are in Group B with Gabriela Stoeva/Stefani Stoeva, Chloe Birch/Lauren Smith and Ashwini Ponnappa/Sikki Reddy.
Speaking during the draw ceremony, the Japanese expressed confidence in their chances of winning a third title in three weeks.
“We are still surprised about our achievements; our seniors have not qualified, so we are feeling lucky,” added Matsuyama.
The outstanding mixed doubles pair on the World Tour this season has been Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino, winners of the All England, Denmark Open and French Open, and runners-up at the Indonesia Open. The top seeds have been drawn with Mathias Christiansen/Alexandra Boje, and two Malaysian pairs – Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing and Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying.
Indonesia Open champions Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai will be challenged by Marcus Ellis/Lauren Smith, DAIHATSU Indonesia Masters runners-up Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet and home duo Praveen Jordan/Melati Daeva Oktavianti in Group B.