After a longer period of rest than is usual for the World Champion these days, Kento Momota will be back in action at the BWF World Tour Super 750 Fuzhou China Open. In the French Open, the World no. 1 player got surprisingly knocked out before the semis by the only player who seems to have the formula of beating him â Indonesia's Anthony Sinisuka Ginting.
Considering the amount of badminton he has been playing, this loss for Momota shouldn't be taken too seriously. If anything, it gave him a couple of days of extra rest which should leave him relatively fresh for the Fuzhou China Open.
In this tournament also, Momota is likely to face Ginting, in the semi-final. The top half of the draw looks quite strong as it has, apart from these two, 2017 World Champion Viktor Axelsen and 2018 All England champion Shi Yu Qi of China.
The performance of Shi would be closely watched, especially his fitness. After being the closest rival of Momota last year, he suffered an ankle injury that broke his momentum. In the Macau Open last week, the Chinese shuttler reached the final but lost badly to Thailand's Sitthikom Thammasin, seeming to be affected by a niggle. His progress will be closely monitored by the staff of the home contingent.
The current Olympic champion Chen Long, who broke his long title drought by winning the French Open couple of weeks ago is in the lower draw. The question on his fans' mind is: Has the gold medallist from Rio regained his top form?
Interestingly, his opponent in the very first round is the man who won the gold at the previous two Olympics â Lin Dan. These two men have seven World titles and three Olympic golds between them. However, the five-time World Champion Lin seems to be on the last legs of his career while Chen hasn't performed as an Olympic champion is expected to. Still, it could be a good match.
Chou Tien Chen is also in the running and has been given a flattering seeding of no. 2. If he progresses through the first two rounds, then the Taiwanese may run into Lin Dan or Chen Long. The only other notable player in the lower half of the draw is Denmark's Anders Antonsen. The latter has a silver medal from this year's World Championship.
Momota remains the favourite, but most fans would love to see him take on Ginting in another duel between the two. Apart from the Indonesian, no other player can be fancied against the reigning World Champion.