Although badminton action is picking up, Chinese and Chinese Taipei players will still be a no-show at the All England Open 2021. With the re-set BWF calendar re-opening in 2021 after a hampered 2020 due to the coronavirus-induced pandemic, certain nations are yet to send their athletes abroad for tournaments.
Beginning on March 17 at Arena Birmingham, the BWF Super 1000 All England Open 2021 will not be seeing participation from top-tier shuttlers on the BWF tour hailing from China and Chinese Taipei nations and thereby slackening the level of competition.
It is no secret that racket sports, chiefly badminton and table tennis, have always seen strong domination from Chinese and Chinese Taipei players. Therefore, naturally, without these all-important contingents present at the All England Open 2021, it is expected that the sporting action will miss its usual sparkle.
However, Thai, Indonesian and Japanese players will be there to offer the much-needed competition.
The notable absence of Chinese players in the All England Open 2021 suggest easier competition
Having been placed comfortably on the rankings table, these players are well ahead in their Race to Tokyo sprint and therefore missing the All England Open 2021 will not be affecting them.
The absence of Chinese and Chinese Taipei players at the All England Open 2021 could in turn suggest a lesser competition, with a drastically reduced number of challenges usually posed by these players.
Advantageously, this will clear the path for other shuttlers in the fray and especially for Indian players seeking to safekeep their points for Olympic qualification, this is a blessing in disguise.
Here are the top 5 players who are giving the All England Open 2021 a miss:
#5 He Bing Jiao
With 2 BWF Super Series titles to her name already, 23-year-old He Bing Jiao from China is one of the most prominent youngsters to be seen missing in action at the All England Open 2021.
Interestingly enough, World No. 9, Bing Jiao's last outing was at the previous edition of the All England Open where she succumbed to Thailand's Pornpawee Chochuwong at the Round of 16 stage.
But Bing Jiao, a bronze medallist from the 2018 World Championships, hasn't been the most consistent of performers at Arena Birmingham. Her best so far at the tournament has been a quarter-final finish against Akane Yamaguchi in the 2019 edition of the event.
That said, this Chinese player has been known to pose a stiff challenge to India's ace shuttler PV Sindhu in the past and therefore with her being out of the mix, Sindhu will have one reason less to worry about at the All England Open 2021.
#4 Shi Yuqi
For 2018 All England Open champion, Shi Yuqi, this year's All England Open 2021 will have to be given a miss. For Yuqi as well, a return to badminton action awaits as the 25-year-old has not competed since his quarter-final loss to Viktor Axelsen in the quarter-final stages of the All England Open 2020.
Moreover, the All England Open has been a favorite haunt of the World No. 11 as he has tasted many memorable victories here, especially his title win against Lin Dan in the 2018 Finals at Arena Birmingham.
Additionally, Yuqi has been known to cause a spot of trouble for star Indian shuttlers like Kidambi Srikanth, B.Sai Praneeth in the past and therefore with him being absent from the All England Open 2021, it spells an easier competition in the men's half.
#3 Chen Yufei
Absent from action since her blockbuster clash-off against Tai Tzu-ying in the finals of the previous edition of the All England Open, where she finished as the runner-up, Chen Yufei will be a no-show at the All England Open 2021.
A winner at this prestigious tournament in 2019, the 23-year-old Yufei has always been a strong force to reckon with, having spelled trouble for the likes of PV Sindhu on certain occasions.
Although Sindhu enjoys a 4-6 head-to-head lead over Yufei, that is not to say that Yufei hasn't been an obstacle for the Rio Olympics silver medallist in the past. Without Yufei around to hinder plans, both Sindhu and Saina Nehwal should be having an easy path ahead now.
#2 Chen Long
In the men's half, the absence of 3-time finalist and 2-time All England Open champion, Chen Long will be starkly felt as action begins from March 17 at the All England Open 2021.
Long was a winner at Birmingham in 2013 and 2015 and a finalist in 2014. Yet again, World No. 6, Long's last outing was in the previous edition of the All England Open, where he finished as a quarter-finalist.
For the Rio Olympic gold medallist, the 2021 season is yet to begin and his non-participation in the Super 1000 event will come as a boon for players like Kidambi Srikanth and B Sai Praneeth who are eager to advance deep into the tournament.
The presence of Long's challenge would have upset their plans but now that the 2-time world champion is skipping the All England Open 2021, the Indian shuttlers can breathe a little easier.
#1 Tai Tzu-ying
Perhaps the most prominent name to give the All England Open 2021 a miss, reigning World No. 1 and defending champion, Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu-ying, will be absent from badminton action at Arena Birmingham.
Historically speaking, Tai Tzu-ying has enjoyed maximum success at the oldest tournament in the BWF calendar. The 26-year-old ace shuttler is the only one to taste success at the All England Open on back-to-back occasions, having won in 2017 and 2018.
In 2019, Tzu-ying was a finalist again before she lost to Chen Yufei and in 2020, she avenged her 2019 loss by squaring off against Yufei again and winning a record third All England Open title.
It goes without saying simply how formidable Tai Tzu-ying is as an opponent and she has repeatedly brought trouble to Indian shuttlers. A winner of 12 Superseries titles, Tzu-ying enjoys an overwhelming success rate against India's top shuttlers - PV Sindhu (13-5) and Saina Nehwal (15-5).
With Tzu-ying missing from action at the All England Open 2021, the Indians can heave a sigh of relief as they head to Birmingham.