The latest edition of BWF World Championships begins on Monday, August 18 in Basel, Switzerland. While this event, the biggest one in the badminton calendar of this year, is bound to be special, in 2019, it holds even greater value due to various possibilities emerging from it.
To begin with, winner of last year's BWF World Championships Carolina Marin is not playing as she is still recovering from her injury. This opens up a great opportunity for PV Sindhu. Twice, the latter has been denied a major title by the Spaniard. First it was the Olympic final in Rio, then the World Championship final last year. On top of that, PV Sindhu has played in the last two finals of this event. Maybe, it would be third time lucky for her.
Saina Nehwal would also get a bye, like Sindhu, in the first round. She started the year on a good note but has lost her form of late. But after a nice break and also with her husband by her side as a coach, she may have a better opportunity.
But both players will have a lot to deal with. Tai Tzu Ying, considered the best player in the world but struggling a bit in 2019, would also look to end her trophy drought in this event. Despite having been very dominant in the circuit, Tai has somehow failed to win major events like World Championships and Super Series Finals. She would also see this event as an opportunity for finally burying the hoodoo of big events.
Then, there are the two Japanese girls who are always in the running – Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi. The latter has been seeded no. 1. This year, she has been in exceptional form and has been winning key tournaments. What makes her special is the fact that, apart from her much-vaunted retrieving abilities, she has also become very adept at scoring points through clever tactics.
Okuhara, on the other hand, hasn't been at her best. But still, the 2017 champion will always be in the running thanks to her undeniable talent and that same tenacity that the Japanese players are famous for.
The Chinese have big hopes from two of their players – Chen Yufei and HE Bingjiao. Yufei has come a long ways since the second half of last year and has now some important titles under her belt. She has overtaken HE Bingjiao who was considered, earlier, the more fancied player from their nation. It could well be Yufei's year and time for a return to China of the World Championship.
The reason Bingjiao is not considered one of the big favourites is because of her inability till now to win big events. She has very often done well to reach the finals but failed to go across the line. Let's see whether she can overcome that deficiency this time.
The dark mares to keep an eye on would be Beiwen Zhang of USA, Sung Ji Hyun of South Korea and Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand. The 2013 champion Ratchanok was supposed to be the next big thing in women's badminton. But she has failed to live up to those expectations and hasn't been in all that great a form of late. But she has wonderful skills, second only to Tai, and could entertain everyone with them.
Zhang is a feisty player who can surprise anyone on her day. Sung, on the other hand, hasn't been very successful over the years.
So, it promises to be a very exciting contest. Indian fans would definitely hope for Sindhu or Saina to become the first ever World Champions from the country. But it would be one hell of a task to emerge as the best from this field of competition.
Schedule and live coverage
The matches on day 1 and 2 would begin at 9 AM local time and 12:30 PM IST. For Indian viewers, the live telecasat of the tournament woudl be provided by Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 1 HD. For those who can watch the game online, Hotstar will be the official platform.