BWF events tend to come thick and fast. The Indonesia Open Super 1000 event ended on Sunday, July 21 but on Tuesday, July 23, the next stop in the tour – Japan Open Super 750 – has arrived. For India's PV Sindhu, this tournament is important as she needs to retain her good form that was displayed in Jakarta.
The World Championship begins on August 19 and after Japan Open, there is only one World Tour event – Thailand Open – that will be held before the biggest badminton tournament of the year. So, every match now is an opportunity for the players to fine-tune their game.
However, for Sindhu, a tough challenge awaits as the lady who vanquished her in the final of Indonesia Open – Akane Yamaguchi – will be her opponent in the third round if both players don't suffer a shock defeat. On top of that, the Japanese lass would be playing on her home turf – or court in this case – in front of a home crowd. Defeating her would be a major ask.
What makes Yamaguchi and Nozomi Okuhara, also a contestant in this event, successful is their resilience and tenacity. These qualities are only going to be augmented by the presence of a vocal, cheering crowd on their side.
It will also be a very important tournament for three other top players in women's singles division. Tai Tzu Ying, Chen Yufei and Okuhara, all endured some disappointment in Indonesia. Both Tai and Yufei lost the semis while Okuhara was knocked out in the quarter-final stage.
The player from Taiwan has been the top performer for the last couple of years but the world title has eluded her so far. She desperately needs to regain the sort of form which made her the ace player in women's singles. This year, she also failed to win the All England Open. It is high time that Tai starts dominating again, at least from her fans point of view.
Okuhara, the 2017 world champion, would also look for a boost from home fans in this event. She would have a tough contest in the third round where her most likely opponent is HE Bing Jiao of China.
Bing Jiao seemed China's biggest hope in women's singles last year but has been overshadowed by Chen Yufei in recent times. The latter produced a very insipid performance in her semi-final loss to PV Sindhu in Indonesia Open. She is again seeded no. 2 but would need to play like it as well.
In the men's singles draw, all eyes would be focussed on Kento Momota. The best player in the world right now and hometown favourite was surprisingly knocked out of Indonesia Open at an early stage. Notwithstanding that, he is the favourite in this tournament as well. There is no Shi Yuqi, so the chances of his winning are quite high.
India have HS Prannoy, Kidambi Srikanth, Sameer Verma and B Sai Praneeth in men's singles category. Prannoy and Srikanth will face each other in the first round itself. The Indian men haven't done that well this year. They would look to change the trend in this tournament.