In her bid to win the prestigious BWF World Tour Finals title for the second consecutive year, reigning world champion PV Sindhu faces a tough challenge. Even though the star Indian shuttler and the World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying have been placed in separate groups, Sindhu needs to be at her best level to progress out of the group stages.
In Group A, Sindhu will be facing the All England Open champion Chen Yufei as well as former BWF World Tour Finals winner Akane Yamaguchi and her nemesis, He Bingjiao.
The two-time winner, Tai heads Group B, where she will have to contend with the likes of former champion Nozomi Okuhara, former world champion Ratchanok Intanon and Busanan Ongbamrungphan from Thailand.
Sindhu will start her title defence against Japan's erstwhile numero uno shuttler, Akane Yamaguchi on Wednesday. For Sindhu, sharpness in play is absolutely imperative as the diminutive Japanese got the better of her the last two times they crossed swords, despite the fact that the Hyderabadi ace leads their head-to-head record at 10-6.
Not only that, the two were involved in a blockbuster three-game final at this tournament two years ago, where Yamaguchi came out on the winning side.
The Rio Olympic silver medallist's current form is a cause of concern for her countless fans. After winning the biggest title of her career at the World Championships in August, Sindhu has looked a pale shadow of herself and has reached the quarter-finals only once in six tournaments. In fact, Sindhu did not even qualify for the season finale on merit and got through only because of a BWF rule that allowed direct entry for world champions.
Sindhu needs to find her power and aggression to get her title defence off to a good start otherwise it can get tough in a tournament which has only the season's top eight players.
In men's singles, World No. 1 Kento Momota will look to make amends for his runner-up show last year when he takes on Jonatan Christie, Anders Antonsen and Wang Tzu Wei in the Group A matches. The two-time world champion Momota had slumped to a surprise loss to China's Shi Yuqi in 2018.
The men's singles Group B this time is packed with former winners Viktor Axelsen and Chen Long, Chou Tien Chen, and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting.Published 10 Dec 2019, 12:31 IST