Top 5 men’s singles contenders for the China Masters GPG

Chen Long

With the 2016 Bonny China Masters being the final Grand Prix Gold event on the BWF calendar before the qualification period for the Rio Olympic Games ends on May 1, a bevy of stars has already descended on the Chinese city of Jiangsu. Competition will be tough as everyone will be aiming to produce their very best and grab those valuable points to get a chance to compete for Olympic medals.

There have been a few inconsistencies from the biggest stars this season which is why the field at the China Masters is pretty wide open. Here are the five players who can clinch the men’s singles title:

1. Chen Long

If World No. 1 Chen Long has his eyes firmly set on the Rio Olympic gold in August, then he has a lot of work to do. For, a year after completing his most successful season, the 27-year-iold Chinese has simply flattered to deceive.

He has lacked in his usual sharpness in 2016 and has unbelievably failed to win a single title in the three Superseries events that he entered. Back home in front of his own adoring fans, the two-time China Masters champion would be looking for the extra motivation to finally lay his hands on a trophy this season.

The top seed starts off his campaign against the 406th Ren Pengbo of China in the second round.

2. Lin Dan

Lin Dan

There is every sign that badminton legend Lin Dan might be able to claim a hat-trick of Olympic gold medals in men’s singles this summer at Rio. He surged to his sixth All England title in March and set an early marker for the coveted yellow metal.

But there are still a few inconsistencies in his game that saw him fall before the semis at the Superseries events in India and Malaysia while at Singapore he lost a close three-setter semi-final.

Perhaps all ‘Super Dan’ needs is a few more wins to get that edge over others at the crucial moments. The China Masters is one of his happy hunting grounds where he has already claimed the men’s singles title five times. He will definitely look to add more to that incredible tally.

The second seed cruised to the second round on Tuesday with a straight-game win over Brunei’s Jaspar Woon Chai Yu and has Taipei’s Cheng Po Wei up next.

3. Huang Yuxiang

Huang Yuxiang

Huang Yuxiang cannot be better prepared before arriving in Jiangsu for the 2016 China Masters. A year after losing the final to compatriot Wang Zhengming in a tight two-game match, the 23-year-old Chinese has got a big boost by winning the New Zealand Open Grand Prix Gold in March. Besides, he was also the runner-up at the Syed Modi GPG in January.

There is no doubt that after such strong performances, the 44th ranked player will be looking to go one better this time.

After triumphing over Lin Chia Hsuan in three games in the opener, Yuxiang has the barrier of HS Prannoy to cross in the second round.

4. HS Prannoy

HS Prannoy

With his attacking play, India’s HS Prannoy possesses the skills to beat the best in the business and contend for the top titles. The seventh seed is no stranger to making giant-killing runs and if he can keep his errors at bay, he is a danger for the top players at any tournament.

Another quality that stands out about the 23rd ranked Indian is that he is fearless and he showed that in abundance last week at the Singapore Open where he was just two points away from stunning the World No. 1 Chen Long. This season, he is gradually coming back to form which was evidenced by his big win at the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold in March.

At the China Masters, he started the first round with a tough three-game win over Malaysia’s Joo Ven Soong and would definitely concentrate on improving further as the tournament progresses.

5. Sho Sasaki

Sho Sasaki

He might be 33 and has not won an international title in years. But the 10th seeded Japanese has been a former semi-finalist at the China Masters and is certainly familiar with the atmosphere at this event.

Purely for his immense experience, Sasaki should be in the contenders list. If the draw opens up, he can cause quite a stir.

He has already notched up an easy straight-game victory over Uzbek player Artyom Savatyugin on Tuesday. Chen Long looms large in the third round against whom he trails 0-5. But the Chinese himself has not been in the best of form the last few weeks. Sasaki thus can surely fancy his chances.

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Edited by Staff Editor