Exciting clashes in opening rounds of Singapore Badminton Open

Japan’s Kento Momota won the 2019 All England Open men’s singles title. (PHOTO: Reuters/Andrew Boyers)

Badminton fans can look forward to exciting clashes from the opening rounds of the Singapore Badminton Open, which will be held from 9-14 April at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

With a strong playing field in all five competitions (men’s singles and doubles, women’s singles and doubles, mixed doubles) this year, the Open has thrown up intriguing match-ups when the draw was made on Tuesday (19 March).

The men’s singles competition contains two mouth-watering matches in the main draw. Japan’s world No. 1 Kento Momota will be facing a tough opponent in 2017 Open champion Sai Praneeth of India. Praneeth, ranked world No. 19, has a 2-1 win-loss record against Momota, but lost in straight games in their most recent clash at the 2018 World Championships.

Meanwhile, badminton superstar Lin Dan will also face a stiff challenge in Danish world No. 4 Viktor Axelsen, a player whom he has a losing career record against, with four losses in seven head-to-head clashes, including the bronze-medal playoff match at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Such is the depth of the men’s singles field that Singapore’s top shuttler Loh Kean Yew – who stunned Lin to win the Thailand Masters title in January – has to negotiate the qualifying rounds in order to reach the main draw. The world No. 58 faces Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu in his first match.

The 21-year-old said, “I am pressured yet excited, because playing on home ground in a Super 500 event is always a dream for young players like me. With home support, I hope I will be able to put up a good fight against all my badminton heroes.”

World No. 1 Tai to face Zhang Beiwen in opening round

In the women’s singles competition, Taiwan’s world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying faces an instant rematch of her All England Open round-of-16 clash with the United States’ Zhang Beiwen.

Tai, who was the 2017 Singapore Open champion, beat Zhang in straight games at the All England Open earlier this month, and holds a 6-2 career win-loss record against her first-round opponent, who used to be part of the Singapore national team set-up from 2009 to 2012.

Meanwhile, 2012 Olympic champion Li Xuerui, who is on the comeback trail after a serious knee injury, will face defending champion Sayaka Takahashi of Japan in her opening round.  Singapore’s top female shuttler Yeo Jia Min will face Indonesia’s Ruselli Hartawan, whom she defeated in February’s German Open round-of-16 in straight games.

Top-ranked doubles pairs in action

In the men’s doubles, the top-ranked Indonesian pair of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo will face compatriots Berry Angriawan and Hardianto Hardianto. China’s 2017 world champions Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan will be hoping to avenge their All England quarter-final defeat by Malaysia’s Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik when they clash again at the Singapore Open.

Reigning women’s doubles champions and world No. 1 pair, Ayako Sakuramoto and Yukiko Takahata of Japan, will begin their title defence against China’s Chen Lu and Xu Ya.

In the mixed doubles, the top-ranked Chinese pair of Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong will take on Japan’s Takuro Hoki and Wakana Nagahara. Singapore’s Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Tan Wei Han will open against Japan’s Yuki Kaneko and Misaki Matsutomo.

Tickets for the Open are available via Sports Hub Tix and APAC Tix.

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