Taiwan’s top two badminton players, Tai Tzu-ying and Chou Tien-chen, are today to compete at the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals in Bangkok.
Tai, who is world No. 3 in women’s singles, is to compete in Group B in the eight-player draw with world No. 5 He Bingjiao of China, and world No. 7 Ratchanok Intanon and world No. 10 Busanan Ongbamrungphan of Thailand.
Group A features world No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, world No. 2 An Se-young of South Korea, world No. 4 Chen Yufei of China and world No. 18 Gregoria Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia.
Tai, who has struggled at times with nagging injuries this year, has not been as dominant as in previous years.
Aside from winning the Taipei Open in July against a relatively weak field, she has reached the finals of major tournaments only twice this year, at the Thailand Open in mid-May and the Indonesia Open in mid-June.
She won both.
The 28-year-old lost in the semi-finals of the World Championships in Tokyo in late August to Chen, and in her most recent tournament, the French Open in late October, she was knocked out in the quarter-finals by He.
Tai, who was last year’s BWF Female Player of the Year, said she was not nervous about this year’s Tour Finals, and was following her normal training routine in preparing for the tournament.
At the federation’s annual awards ceremony on Monday in Bangkok, Yamaguchi won the BWF Female Player of the Year award.
Yamaguchi defended her title at the World Championships and captured the highly prestigious All England Open and Japan Open, giving her the edge over her two nearest rivals, Tai and An.
On the men’s side, world No. 4 Chou is to compete in Group B with world No. 5 Jonatan Christie of Indonesia, world No. 3 Loh Kean Yew of Singapore and world No. 7 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia.
World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen is in Group A along with world No. 12 H.S. Prannoy of India, world No. 14 Kodai Naraoka of Japan and world No. 17 Lu Guangzu of China.
Chou said he felt good about competing in the Finals, saying it felt like an “annual bonus.”
“I’m so happy to be competing and will give it everything I have to play my best in every match,” he said.
Group round robin matches are to be played from today to Friday, with the top two players in each group advancing to the semi-finals.
The by-invitation tournament, which carries a total purse of US$1.5 million, features the top eight players and pairs in the HSBC BWF World Tour Rankings.
Only up to two players or pairs are allowed per member association, and current world champions gain automatic entry.
The HSBC World Tour rankings are different from the overall BWF rankings because they only account for performances in HSBC BWF World Tour events.
That difference explains why some top-eight players in the overall rankings do not make the Tour Finals and why some of the groups seem particularly strong, such as Group A in the women’s singles draw.
Yamaguchi, for example, is only ranked 10th in HSBC BWF World Tour events, and she was therefore treated as a lower seed in the draw.
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