Matches played at electric pace with breathtaking skills – welcome to the World Tour Finals 2020! Plunge into the end of season event that showcases the best of badminton.
Women’s Singles is the most compelling sector in elite badminton. The variety of styles and intensity of competition adds up to a breathtaking spectacle.
The WTF begins with a round robin format. Once complete the top two athletes from each group embark on the knock-out phase: semi finals then final. The draw can have quite an influence as the woman who negotiates this phase whilst conserving energy is at an advantage later on. Tiredness is going to play a decisive role: these players have competed in two high level tournaments on the bounce, so those with speedy physical and mental recovery will progress.
Group A: Marin, AN, LI, and Kosetskaya
The irrepressible, extraordinary Carolina Marin is in a group she will want to rule! Her loud hustly-bustly manner is only part of the story; this clever, committed player drives herself on to overcome challenge after challenge. Carolina is an attacker who operates at pace; her vulnerability is revealed if her onslaught is faced and countered. Once she gets the opportunity to dominate the front court and use her spinning net shot her momentum is hard to resist so the key will be to see who can pin her back and be patient enough to frustrate her.
She was unstoppable in January: 2 tournaments played and 2 tournaments won. So, who can halt her progress to this podium? Prediction: Silver
AN Se Young is the menace to the status quo who lurks just over the horizon. She has been regarded as the player who could dominate the women’s game for years however, she hasn’t achieved that status yet. Like Chochuwong she can earn great results but I think she still struggles to maintain consistent levels of excellence day after day at a tournament. At the Toyota Thailand Open she couldn’t handle Marin’s pace and didn’t have a workable strategy to counter it. She is still an incredibly talented competitor who may progress to the SF. Can she handle Marin this time?
Michelle Li is a nicely balanced player with great racket skills, the ability to play precision shots and read the game. She has been the gold medallist at the Pan Am Games three times and yet I’ve heard it said that she performs better as the underdog. I think sometimes her own inner voice sabotages her confidence and that can weaken her resilience. She is very capable of getting to the semi finals so long as she takes advantage of every chance. That includes beating AN Se Young.
Evgeniya Kosetskaya is the first Russian singles to qualify for the WTF. She’s not as well-known as some of the top seeds but she has honed her game in the Danish professional league so we can expect to watch a player who is hard to beat and tactically smart. She could spring a surprise or two but it’s not likely that she will be able to build on an upset.
Group B: TAI, Intanon, Chochuwong and Sindhu
TAI Tzu Ying got to both finals in January but on each occasion she could not slow Marin down. It feels wrong to complain about inconsistency but while her performances have been good enough to get on the podium she just has not been at her top level. If she is going to disrupt the Carolina Marin show at the WTF she has to use everything at her disposal including the patience she used to win the All England. Prediction: Semi final at least but I’m concerned about her tiredness.
Ratchanok Intanon: as she got more court time in January, May’s play improved. She was knocked out of the Yonex Thailand Open at the QF stages by An Se Young and at the Toyota Thailand Open she reached the SF. Her campaign at the TTO showed off so many of her strengths and reminded us all what a dazzling player she is. I think her quarter final against a resurgent SUNG Ji Hyun was superb: her gritty fightback after losing the first set was awesome. Her semi-final battle with TAI Tzu Ying was dazzling with both players showing their creative power. Prediction: Too close to call, but I’d love to see her in the final.
Pornpawee Chochuwong is a young player who has taken some impressive scalps most noticeably her victory last year over Marin at the final of the Barcelona Spain Masters. It’s unfortunate the disrupted 12 months has robbed her of the chance to build upon this; her assured net play and stout defence mean she could be capable of getting to the SF if she is ruthless in dispatching her rivals.
PV Sindhu – her game has been very up and down since she was crowned World Champion and it would seem that she is seeking to reset her approach. I’m a big fan of the Rio silver medallist and I would love to see her cast her cares away and play without limits. At core she is an exciting, intimidating player who can annihilate opponents without mercy. Once she starts using her attacking clears and screwing down the pressure on rivals, she is so hard to resist. Given her below par performances this month it’s difficult to predict glory in this tournament but I hope she can start to rebuild her game and use this as part of the process.
Any of these players can triumph in a one off match against the other but fatigue will blunt some challenges. Possessing the drive and resilience to go toe-to-toe with her peers day after day and dig out relentless wins is the crucial factor. January’s nonstop demands on our favourites are building to a crescendo. The athlete at the top of the podium on Sunday will be a worthy champion.
If you enjoyed this then take a look at my recent post about TAI Tzu Ying https://womensbadminton.co.uk/2020/10/03/we-miss-tai-tzu-ying/ or this one about Kento Momota https://womensbadminton.co.uk/2020/12/27/momota-the-return-of-the-king/
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