The stars of the Huelva 2021 World Championships

Everything is ready to kick off the biggest badminton event in the world: the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2021, which will be held in Huelva from 12 to 19 December, and which welcomes the best rackets in the world at the Carolina Marín Sports Palace (Huelva).

The athletes will show their high level and their exhaustive preparation for this important event, displaying their full potential from the first day of competition. Like all events, some of the players start as favourites to get the title of World Champion. Get to know the stars of the 2021 World Championships in Huelva.

MEN’S SINGLES

Two-time defending champion and the World No.2 Kento Momota (Japan, 27) withdrew from the BWF World Championships beginning on Sunday after failing to recover from a back injury. Momota also withdrew from last week’s HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2021 with a back issue and has returned to Japan so he will not be in Huelva 2021 either.

Viktor Axelsen (Denmark, 27) is a great player, probably the most “reliable” in the World when it comes to betting on him, and a self-made badminton star. When he was a young boy, he could already feel the enormous pressure of being the “chosen one” to defeat the Asians, a burden that has destroyed many careers, but that he managed to bear until he became who he is today: the best player on earth, according to the World rankings. Axelsen is a very strong physical player, one of those who seem incomprehensible when others are already very tired. But reducing his abilities only to his power is a mistake, because after some defeats against highly talented players, he has been improving in everything in which he had no advantage, and now he boasts of having a variety of strokes that makes him something above “perfect”. If we add to this that at the moment there seems to be no one who can stop him, the recent winner of the World Tour Finals and current Olympic Champion must be considered as the great favorite.

Anders Antonsen (Denmark, 24) even he is a “developing player”, his numbers already guarantee him as one of the best players in the World. Heir to the Danish school, he becomes strong by covering the entire court as the best weapon and making his opponents weak with the power of his right arm; his parallels strokes quickly placed him among the elite of European and World badminton, and since then he has managed to stay among the best. With a prolific repertoire of strokes, Antonsen is undoubtedly among the top favorites to get a medal in Huelva.

Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei, 31) is a player who has a very nice game to watch, regardless of the result. When he is in shape, he is very difficult to be stopped, because he combines technical skills at the level of very few players, with a great power of concentration. In Huelva he has the opportunity to achieve a great result and for sure many of his fans can not wait to see the quality that he treasures in his right wrist that makes his style unique.

WOMEN’S SINGLES

Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei, 27) has demonstrated during her career that by working hard it is possible to draw your own path. For years, she belonged to that group of players that remained in the shadow of those who were then the stars of the discipline. But by losing a lot of matches, little by little she was polishing the diamond that was actually in front of her, and that made the nowadays #1 of the tournaments, who already has crossed the line that separates the humans from the divine beings. Tai is a very talented player, and someone unable of making a single gesture without showing all the quality she has. She masters all the strokes as much as she masters herself, it seems that nothing and no one disrupt her, not even in the most delicate moments. She is lethal on the net, but she also knows how to play away from it, always practicing badminton bathed in exquisiteness, and at the service of beauty. She still lacks in her showcases the gold medal of an Olympic Games or a World Championship, and in Huelva she starts the competition as one of the great favorites to achieve this goal.

Akane Yamaguchi (Japan, 24) has carved a niche for herself among the badminton elite, almost without making a sound. Like other great players of the moment, she still lacks a “great” gold medal and who knows if we are finally in her “good year.” The Japanese is fast and leathery, she combines her amazing ability to move around the track with the quality that she treasures in each of her strokes, always knowing how to choose the most suitable one to end any rally. It is very difficult to turn around a rally where she takes the initiative, because with the speed of her legs it is difficult to surprise her, and that is why many rallies usually ends with a kill that is lethal for her opponent. Despite her youth, she accumulates experience and matches to face any situation, she is always competitive and constant.

Nozomi Okuhara (Japan, 26 years old) already knows what it is to win a World Championships final (2017), and lose another one (2019), and she is maybe the biggest box of surprises that other players can face; her versatility and her ability to adapt to what she finds in front of her make her the best in the World in destroying other people’s game plans, and that is how she managed to get a bronze in Rio 2016 Olympics, and to become one of the most feared players of the World. In Huelva she is one of her great favorites and, if we said Tai is elegance and Yamaguchi technique, Nozomi is, above all, intelligence; and sooner or later the fruits of making the right decisions will be reaped.

Carolina Marín will be one of the great absentees on the courts during the 2021 Huelva World Championships, as it was not possible for her to recover on time from the knee injury that she suffered in May. However, the Olympic champion and three-time World champion will not miss the appointment and she will be the best host for “her” championship, as it is held in her hometown by participating in different activities to help the promotion of an event that will place the city of Huelva on the map.

An Se Young (South Korea, 19 years old) is a very young player, and although his journey has only just begun, she has already made it clear: she has reached the elite level to stay. Having eight World Tour titles (plus another three finals), at her age, she is completely out of the ordinary, and she is progressing by losing and accumulating experience over the years. But she is only 19, and she is already as respected as any “heavyweight” on the circuit. And in 2021 she is confirming that she is not a shooting star, she is a star that is planning to stay up in the sky. She has been the winner of the Indonesia Open and the Indonesia Master, finalist in the Danish Open, and she will arrive in Huelva as the winner of the World Tour Finals, being in the best moment of a promising career. Versatile, very fast and with a great variety of strokes, she is a real challenge for all the other players.

Pusarla Sindhu (India, 26 years old) has everything to be one of the big favorites in any tournament. Her 1.80m height allows her to dominate the court from far away of the badminton net, where her right strokes are powerful. However, over the years, Sindhu has been perfecting those aspects of the game in which she was more vulnerable, and she has been able to take advantage of her formidable physique too, to become a very powerful player, which together with her technique and, above all, her determination, make her one of the most complete players in the World circuit. She knows what it’s like to win a World Championships (2019) but she has also lost several finals (the last one last week against An Se Young), so in addition to experience, she also accumulates a lot of “hunger”.

Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand, 26 years old) was the youngest World champion in history in 2013 and has been at the top level ever since. If the really difficult thing is to stay at that high level, the Thai player is achieving it with good marks and, if she arrives at a good time to this championship, she is as favorite as anyone. Her strength is her defense, perhaps the best on the circuit, from which she builds winner points at the cost of physical and mental wear on her opponents. She doesn’t always get the most optimal level of concentration, so sometimes she doesn’t compete as befits her true potential; but when she does, she is one of the toughest players anyone can face, because she returns every stroke and fatigue does not seem to affect her as the minutes go by. With Carolina Marín, for example, she has played three-set matches that are written on the history of badminton (winning and losing) and, like the Huelva woman, when she is “inside” the tournaments she does not seem to have more rivals than herself.

MEN’S DOUBLES

At the last minute the withdrawal of the Indonesian national team was confirmed. It’s an important absence, mainly in the doubles modalities in which they have several great pairs, such as the Olympic champions Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu. However, the excitement is assured with other amazing couples that are coming to get the gold medal.

Lee Yang (Chinese Taipei, 26) and Wang Chi-Lin (Chinese Taipei, 26) are the current Olympic champions, and there is no better cover letter than that. Last week and, despite not playing the final, they had a very outstanding performance in the World Tour Finals, which places them, after this year of great performances, as serious contenders for the title. A title that they still do not have, and that they have surely thought that getting it would be the best way to close a dream season.

WOMEN’S DOUBLES

Chen Qing Chen (China, 24) and Jia Yifan (China, 24), start as seeds No. 1, and thay can already say that they are World champions, and Olympic silver medal. If they arrive in Huelva in the same shape in which they have been seen throughout the year, they will have to be “watched” closely, because their fast and almost electric game short-circuits the game plans of all their rivals, making them very difficult to be defeat.

Lee Sohee (South Korea, 27) and Shin Seungshan (South Korea, 27) play a very versatile game, and they seem perfectly in sync when on the court. Together, they achieved bronze in Copenhagen in 2014, and the first of them is also an Olympic medalist in Rio. This season they have once again reached a level of play that places them in a privileged place, from which to fight for the long-awaited gold medal.

Kim Soyeong (South Korea, 29) and Kong Heeyong (South Korea, 24) have a whole career behind them, but in recent years they have improved a lot, arriving in Huelva at their best moment, and in their game, there are times when it seems that no one could overshadow them. After being third in the Tokyo Olympics, last week they were champions at the World Tour Finals. A perfect combination of youth and experience, of physique and technique; one of the most complete couples in the world, and a firm contender for the world title.

Mayu Matsumoto (Japan, 26) and Wakana Nagahara (Japan, 25) could win, if they arrive in optimal conditions, their third consecutive gold in a World Championships. Few couples arouse as much admiration as the Japanese, as few are those who are able to face them. Matsumoto gives to the pair the power, Nagahara the magic style, and together they seem to move as one, playing a game that seems to have no cracks. They tend to find their best peak of form on the big dates, so …

MIXT DOUBLES

Zheng Si Wei (China, 24) and Huang Ya Qiong (China, 27) arrived at Carolina Marín´s badminton hall and they will try to win, for the third time and in a row, the World Championship; they did it in 2018 and 2019, and in 2021 they got the silver medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games. They have just lost number 1 in the world rankings for not participating in the World Tour Finals, but the level they reach playing together, and the moment they are going through, makes them, for many, the great favorites. Power, technique, talent; after having played with different pairs, both seem to have found the ideal partner.

Dechapol Puavaranukroh (Thailand, 24) and Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Thailand, 29) have just won the World Tour Finals, and achieved No. 1 in the world rankings. The Thais, silver in the 2019 World Championships, are, above all, a “first class” couple; They have an attractive and refined style, they are always competitive, and they arrive at their best time of the year, what is very good for everyone, since being able to see them is a luxury. Knowing the great mixed doubles couples that are plying in Huelva, history-making duels seem to be looming…

Yuta Watanabe (Japan, 24) and Arisa Higashino (Japan, 25) also seem to arrive in a very good shape at the World Championships. Together, these last few seasons have filled their shelves with great titles, but they are still missing “one of the greats”. Their game is characterized by their amazing speed on court, being a very fast couple. Without a doubt, they will also have their chance.