BWF World Championships 2018: A look at the biggest contenders for the men's singles title

Badminton Malaysia Open - Day 2
Srikanth Kidambi
Nilesh Sharma

BWF World Championships is all set to kick-off tomorrow. The tournament, a dream of every professional player, will take place in Nanjing, China, from 30th July - 5th August.

The badminton scene has never been more engaging, the circuit has never been more and hectic, and the competition has never been this gruesome. It's a new era in badminton, where no one nation dominates, where no one discipline grabs all the attention, where no player is the favourite to win.

With the BWF World Championships 2018 all set to kick off on July 30 at Nanjing, China, here's a look at the biggest contenders for the men's singles title:

#1 Srikanth Kidambi

The apple of a million eyes and a megastar in his home nation, Srikanth Kidambi is a true contender. Identified as one of the brightest talent ever since he entered the senior circuit, Srikanth finally started to live up to the expectations as he lifted 4 Superseries titles (Australia, Indonesia, Denmark, France) last year becoming the first Indian and only the fourth man ever to do so.

The current World No. 6 has had an uneventful year so far (by his standards). Unflattering early exits at India and All England, and two consecutive defeats to his arch rival Kento Momota didn't help his case.

However, the former World No. 1 did enjoy some success at the Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast earlier this year, where he was runner-up to Lee Chong Wei, whom he had earlier defeated in the team championships.

His form will be thoroughly tested by the talented Indonesian youngster Jonathan Christie in the Pre-quarter-finals.

#2 Viktor Axelsen

Daihatsu Indonesia Masters 2018
Viktor Axelsen

The defending champion and World No. 1 Victor Axelsen, hasn't had the smoothest year thus far. He has been troubled by injuries and illness, forcing him to miss the prestigious All England.

The Danish star started the year in style by winning Perodua Malaysia Masters as he defeated a motivated Kenta Nishimoto in a tight three games in the final encounter. The world champion showed no signs of slowing down throughout the tournament and was all set for another stellar year.

However, he injured himself in Round 2 of the Indonesia Masters whilst having a close contest against Kazumasa Sakai. The injured Axelsen was then forced to miss the prestigious All England. His fans were left disappointed as he was completely outplayed by the eventual champion, Lee Chong Wei in the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Open last month on his return to the circuit.

Viktor, who relies on his speed, agility and steep-angled smashes, was quick to redeem himself in Indonesia a week later, where he settled for the silver against the man in form, Kento Momota.

Viktor will face his first real challenge against No. 10 seed Ng Ka Long Angus in pre-quarter-finals.

#3 Chen Long

Blibli Indonesia Open - Day 1
Chen Long

The Chinese prince, often tagged as 'The Dragon', is a former world champion and World No. 1 as well as the reigning Olympic champion. He has pretty much achieved everything badminton offers.

One may say the current World No. 8 is off-form, but he can't be put off the charts any day. With his 'robotic' almost impossible-to-penetrate defence, agility, and lethal counter-attack, he makes a formidable foe for anybody on any given day.

Chen Long has faced uncharacteristic three Round 1 exits this year, and two anti-climactic quarter-final defeats. The best performance he has given his fans this year was at the Asia Championships, where he went all the way to the final, going down to Momota.

Chen Long has a very tough draw, with trick guns like Hsu Jen Hao and Khosit Phetpradab and Kenta Nishimoto as his early opponents.

#4 Kento Momota

Thomas & Uber Cup - Day 1
Kento Momota

After coming back from his suspension, this Japanese star has left no stones unturned to grab some attention. And he has been successful, to say the least.

He was forced to play lower-level tournaments for most part of the 2017 season to gain some ranking points in order to qualify for the World Tour this year.

Momota started his run from the Asian Championships, where he defeated the Olympic champion Chen Long to bring home the trophy. He was undefeated in the Thomas and Uber Cup, where his massive contribution helped Japan battle the mighty Chinese for the glorious trophy. He also won the recently-concluded Indonesia Open and finished runner-up to Lee Chong Wei in Malaysia.

He will be first tested by the young and upcoming Andres Antonsen of Denmark. However, the Nippon man is expected to set up another match against his arch-rival Srikanth Kidambi in the semi-finals.

Honourable Mentions

  1. Lin Dan: arguably the GOAT of badminton, 5xWorld champions and 2xOlympic Champion.
  2. Chou Tien Chen: Current World No. 5, Singapore and German Open Champion
  3. Shi Yuqi: World No.3, All England and India Open Champion

Late Withdrawals:

  1. Lee Chong Wei : 2x Olympic Silver Medallist, former World No. 1
  2. Son Wan Ho: 2017 Bronze Medallist , former World No. 1

My Pick:

Kento Momota

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee


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