We’ve reached the business end of the BWF World Tour now, and the focus is moving toward 2020 – and the All England in March.
So how are the likely main contenders shaping up, and who should we be looking out for in Paris next week?
All the main men return in the Men’s Singles following the conclusion of proceedings in Denmark this week. All England royalty Lin Dan has a chance for immediate revenge, facing his conqueror in Odense, Sai Praneeth B. in the First Round.
Last year’s winner and two time All England champion Chen Long is seeded 5th, but having not won a tournament since his victory in France in 2018, he may struggle to even progress past the Round of 32, where he takes on Rasmus Gemke, a semi-finalist 12 months ago.
Gemke has reached the Quarter Final in Denmark, knocking out the 6th seed Jonatan Christie in the process – but surely a win in Paris would be beyond him. The smart money, as always, is on one of Kento Momota or Chou Tien Chen– and we’re backing Chen following some strong performances in Odense.
In the Women’s Singles, there are a number of seeds who will be looking to bounce back following disappointing performances in Odense. He Bing Jiao, Akane Yamaguchi and Saina Nehwal will all want to put First Round exits behind them, whilst once again unseeded Carolina Marin presents a tough challenge for Nozomi Okuhara, the 3rd seed, and Ratchanok Intanon, seeded 6th, in the Second Round and Quarter Final respectively.
Our money is on Nehwal, however. Her run to the Semi Finals seems straightforward enough, and a mouth-watering potential final four clash with Yamaguchi has the makings of a classic.
We’ve got a bit of a soft spot for our pick to win the Men’s Doubles – though it’s hardly a massive risk to back the Number 1 seeds! Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sukmuljo have been in powerful form and there’s no need to look past them in Paris.
One pairing to keep an eye on are Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda, the 4th seeds. Losing Semi Finalists at the All England earlier this year, they will want to start picking up a bit of momentum ahead of another tilt at the big one in March.
The Mixed Doubles looks intriguing. Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith, following a disappointing Round of 32 exit in Denmark, will be looking for an immediate response. They could face a potential Quarter Final against compatriots the Adcock’s – if either are able to get that far.
So who are we backing? Seo Seung Jae and Chae Yujung, losing finalists in this tournament last year, could force a repeat of that 2018 final, as they are on the opposite side of the draw to Chinese pair Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong – the reigning All England champions. However, this feels an ideal opportunity to exact revenge for the South Korean team.
Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara, who, having lost the Final in the Women’s Doubles earlier this year at the AEC, have mostly had a good year, winning the Singapore Open and reaching the Final at the Super 750 Japan Open. Seeded first in Paris, why not aim to go all the way?
The winners of the 2019 All England, Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan would be their potential opponents in a Semi Final in what could be a cracking tournament.
MS: Chou Tien Chen (2)
WS: Saina Nehwal (5)
MD: Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sukmuljo (1)
XD: Seo Seung Jae and Chae Yujung (4)
WD: Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara (1)
SURPRISE PACKAGE: Rasmus Gemke