All England: Axelsen Seeks Year’s First Title

Viktor Axelsen will be the star act of the opening day of the 125th year of the YONEX All England when he takes on familiar rival Kidambi Srikanth.

In celebration of its 125th year, the All England sports a new look this year, with light grey courts instead of the traditional green, and that will add to the interest around the opening day’s performances.

Axelsen has been on top of the podium so often in recent years that it’s unusual for him to be without a title in March. But due to a foot injury, the Dane has played only two events – the Malaysia Open and last week’s French Open – where he made the semifinals and the second round respectively. The world No.1 would have high expectations of himself here, for he has a stellar record at the All England, winning two of four finals over the last five years.

Kidambi will be up for it.

Kidambi could be a tricky opening round opponent, although the Indian hasn’t beaten the Dane in over six years. Kidambi did look in good touch last week in France, and there will be no bigger motivation than attempting a takedown of the world’s best player on one of the world’s biggest stages.

Defending champion Li Shi Feng, who memorably did a cartwheel after last year’s final win over Shi Yu Qi, will also be in action today; the third seed taking on Toma Junior Popov.

There was only one withdrawal, and that was in men’s singles. Malaysia’s Ng Tze Yong, who had upset Axelsen in the second round last year, withdrew due to injury; he was replaced by upcoming Dane Magnus Johannesen, who created a sensation last week beating Lee Zii Jia.

Other Feature Matches Today

» Muhammad Shohibul Fikri/Bagas Maulana, men’s doubles winners in 2023, will be up against Alexander Dunn/Adam Hall. The Indonesians are at No.10 in the Race to Paris, and will have to make the top eight alongside higher-ranked compatriots Fajar Alfian/Muhammad Rian Ardianto if they are to qualify for Paris.

» With the window to qualification for the Olympics fast closing, a number of players and pairs will be looking for a strong show at the All England to shore up their chances. Han Yue, who is neck-and-neck with He Bing Jiao for China’s second spot in women’s singles, has a difficult opening round opponent in Supanida Katethong.

» Christo Popov has leapt ahead of his brother Toma Junior thanks to his German Open win; the younger Popov faces Lee Cheuk Yiu, runner-up at the India Open.

» In women’s singles, Pusarla V Sindhu, who last week looked close to her best form after her injury troubles of last year, starts her campaign against Yvonne Li.

» Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand Pullela have a good record at the All England, with two semifinals here. This time a difficult opening assignment awaits them, in the form of Apriyani Rahayu/Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti.

Order of play

Fikri and Maulana after winning the title in 2022.

BWF World Tour News

Title Sponsor