2021 is a highly anticipated year for all those who love badminton. The Asian leg of the tour begins with the YONEX Thailand Open (12-17 January).
Every player will be fighting it out to revive the sport and make their big comebacks.
We, here at 360badminton, have made a list of players whose comebacks are slightly more anticipated than others.
On 12 January 2020, Kento Momota won the 2020 Malaysia Masters in the men’s singles discipline. In the early hours of 13 January 2020, he met with a car accident on the highway en route to the airport. His career was in doubt after he suffered injuries.
Fast forward one year, Momota will be making his badminton comeback on 12 January 2021, exactly one year after his last international title win. He told BWF, “It’s been almost a year since my last international tournament… I’m nervous but I’m really looking forward to it.”
Viktor Axelsen’s 2020 All England win was one of the highlights of his career so far. So much has happened for him ever since he became a father for the first time and went through an ankle surgery.
The Covid-19 suspension of tournaments came as a blessing in disguise as he took this as an opportunity to recuperate from his surgery. He might need some time to adjust to a match atmosphere but the birth of his daughter will be a big motivation for him to be on top of the podium again.
Tai Tzu Ying
Tai Tzu Ying is one player who is defined by style, technique and titles. But in the last couple of years, her achievements have suffered somewhat. In 2018, she won 8 titles but ended 2019 with only three titles.
What happened to the dominance of Tai? Is she under pressure? She seems to have lost her invincibility touch. The question now for Tai is what now for 2021. Tai has never been a world champion, nor did she perform particularly well at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is sure to motivate her to have the magic touch again.
She has kept herself busy with lots of creative and recreational activities during the pandemic, perhaps we will see a new Tai in 2021 with fresh motivation.
Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo
Currently, the Minions are comfortable at the top of the rankings table and won the 2020 Indonesia Masters and were runners up at the 2020 All England. This is already quite the achievement considering the limited number of tournaments held this year.
But recently the Japanese pair of Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe has become somewhat of a stumbling block for the Minions. They have lost the last six matches to the Japanese.
At the 2020 All England, they suffered their sixth defeat at the hand of the Japanese. That was a bitter pill to swallow as they are the favourites to win the gold in Tokyo. The Asia tour will be a fresh start for the Minions, who will be looking to get their wins and titles rolling in again.
He Bing Jiao
When we see He Bing Jiao on the court again, it might take a while to recognise her. In recent months, she has gone through a drastic physical transformation. There were photos of her circulating on social media with a much leaner body.
She always had some criticisms against her when it came to match-fitness. She has bad statistics when it comes to matches that go to the third game. It seems she has listened to her criticisms and has taken an active interest in working on her fitness.
With the new fitness level and her natural talent on the court, it would be a great return for He Bing Jiao.
In 2018, Kidambi Srikanth became only the third Indian to be the world No. 1. He was on the rise with his quick, attacking and natural talent. But his career had been smeared with injuries ever since.
At the DANISA Denmark Open 2020, he reached the quarter-finals, which is a decent result considering he is on his way to the top again after all the injuries and career obstacles.
He is currently ranked 22nd in the Race to Tokyo standings. He will be thoroughly motivated to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Many Indian fans will be looking forward to Srikanth doing well in the international scene again.