Top 5 female players to watch out for in the BWF World Tour Finals

Tai Tzu Ying leads the pack of exciting women's singles players in 2018 BWF World Tour Finals
Tai Tzu Ying leads the pack of exciting women's singles players in 2018 BWF World Tour Finals

A very hectic year for the leading badminton players of the world culminates with the BWF World Tour Finals. The women’s singles division presents the most exciting prospect with a group of players who are all capable of beating anyone on their day.

The current scene in the world of women’s singles badminton is highly exciting with a group of around half a dozen highly exciting players who all are enormously capable and have had their moment of glory at some stage. Unfortunately, two of these players – Carolina Marin and He Bingjiao – are out of the tournament with injuries. This is a huge disappointment to the fans but there are still many big guns left.

Here is a look at the players who would be the top contenders for the title in Guangzhou.


#1 PV Sindhu

Sindhu would look to break the jinx of losing in big finals
Sindhu would look to break the jinx of losing in big finals

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride! That has been the situation of Pusarla Venkata Sindhu in the last couple of years. She has shown an uncanny ability to produce her best in big tournaments and really shine on the big stage.

Reaching the Olympic final in Rio, World Championship final two years in a row (2017 and 2018), Commonwealth Games final and Asian Games final this year, Super Series Finals’ final last year and losing in all of them has left her and her fans greatly disappointed.

But her record in big tournaments shows that she is a big contender this time around as well. With the quality she possesses, it’s hard to see her not winning one of the big titles at some stage.

Last year, she faced Akane Yamaguchi in a really long, hard-fought game which tested the limits of both players’ stamina. Eventually, Yamaguchi emerged the winner. Sindhu would be keen to go one better this time around but her form after the World Championship hasn’t been great. Still, with her tendency to reserve her best for the big events, she would be a major contender.

#2 Tai Tzu Ying

Tai Tzu Ying is the favourite going into the tournament
Tai Tzu Ying is the favourite going into the tournament

Tai Tzu Ying is a special player – not just because of her enormous success – but also because of the way she achieves it. She is undoubtedly the most skilful player in singles badminton today and possesses a vast array of shots. She has shown the ability to play the most audacious shots with utmost ease which has left fans around the world spellbound.

She often makes her opponents look helpless thanks to the ability to play accurate and unbeatable shots from the most awkward positions. The flexible wrists and the ability to deceive the opponents are major weapons in her arsenal. The only downside of her seemingly nonchalant play is the tendency she has shown, at times, of becoming complacent and committing major errors.

However, earlier this year she showed great fighting ability in a couple of key matches and fought back from difficult situations to emerge victorious. If she retains her focus and tightens up her game, this badminton wizard could be unstoppable.

#3 Nozomi Okuhara

Okuhara would be one of the top contenders for the title
Okuhara would be one of the top contenders for the title

2017 World Champion Nozomi Okuhara is another big name in the tournament. Her incredible stamina and tenacity earned her the World title after a monumental final against PV Sindhu which lasted nearly two hours and featured a rally that went for more than 70 shots.

While she doesn’t possess the wizardry of Tai or the height advantage of Sindhu, there is little else in her game that is not up to the mark. She also has the benefit of having last year’s champion Akane Yamaguchi as her sparring partner.

While her height may seem to be a disadvantage, she compensates for it easily with her supple movements on the court and great flexibility. Okuhara’s net play is also quite good. It’s been a mixed year for her but one that she can end on a high note.

#4 Akane Yamaguchi

Yamaguchi's tenacity won her this title last year
Yamaguchi's tenacity won her this title last year

The other Japanese to grace this tournament this year is last year’s winner (it was called the Super Series Final then) Akane Yamaguchi. Her diminutive appearance is highly deceptive. She too, just like her compatriot Okuhara, is blessed with an incredible stamina which was truly evident last year when she defeated PV Sindhu in the final after a marathon match featuring several excruciatingly long rallies.

While playing against a tall player like Sindhu may create greater challenges for her, she has enough competence in her shot-making abilities to compensate for that. Again like her compatriot, she doesn’t have the set of super-skills that Tai Tzu Ying possesses but doesn’t lack much else.

She plays in a steady manner and likes to have long rallies. Being the defending champion would make give her extra motivation and Yamaguchi never lets go of an opportunity without giving an almighty fight.

#5 Ratchanok Intanon

Intanon is the only player in the circuit who can match Tai Tzu Ying's skills
Intanon is the only player in the circuit who can match Tai Tzu Ying's skills

While she is still young, Ratchanok Intanon was crowned the World Champion as early as 2013. She looked set to become a leading player and possibly a great. However, since that glorious achievement, her performance has been hugely underwhelming.

This becomes even more disappointing for Thai fans because of the clear potential she possesses. If there is one player in the current women’s singles’ circuit who comes anywhere close to having the kind of skills that Tai Tzu Ying possesses, it’s Ratchanok.

It is not surprising, therefore, that in approximately the period covering the passing year, she has been one of the very few players to have beaten Tai when she was fully fit.

The problem with Ratchanok has often seemed to be lack of intent or motivation rather than anything technical. When on top, she too can mesmerize with her shots but has often seemed to lack the steely resolve to win that players like Marin, Sindhu and even He Bingjiao possess.

But with such ability at her command and many years ahead of her, she could still reach the heights of success expected of her. For the ascent to the top, this tournament is as good a place to begin as any.

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Edited by Raunak J
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