Thailand Open, the first international badminton tournament of
2021, is scheduled to begin January 12 at Bangkok’s Impact Arena. With
the very first edition of the tournament having taken place back in 1982, the
winning position was clinched by the-then champion Sugiarto. It took India
another 28 years to reach the top, as Saina Nehwal in 2012 beat local
favourite Ratchanok Intanon, establishing herself as the champion in the women’s
singles event.

In 2021, however, the tournament includes a slew of exciting
draws for the audience to tune into.

Also read: NBA: Celtics-Heat game called off as COVID protocols deplete Heat

Danish shuttler Viktor Axelsen, the fourth seed for the
tournament and the current first position holder in men’s world tour ranking,
will be taking on Thailand’s Sitthikom Thamasin in Men’s singles competition.
With a career total win count of 362, Axelsen has gathered a total of 33,220
points. The second seed of the tournament, Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei
will go up against Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, yet another representative of the
host-country in the preliminary round.

India’s top draws in the Men’s Singles division – Sai
Praneeth B and Kidambi Srikanth, claiming the world rankings 13 and 14, will be
taking on Kantaphon Wangcharoen and Sourabh Verma respectively.

Read more: Thailand Open: After Japan and China, Indonesian top seeds withdraw from tournament

Srinath is the former Thailand Open champion (2012), and is
also the former World number one in the format.

A potentially good face-off can emerge from India’s Prannoy
HS going up against Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia, with the latter being the eighth
seed of the tournament as well as the 10th ranked player in the
world in the singles division.

In Women’s singles division, the top seed of the tournament –
Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying, who also holds the current first rank in the
division, is slated to go up against Thailand’s Benyapa Aimsaard.

India’s claim to fame can possibly shoot up in the women’s division
in the current year, with both Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu scheduled to compete
in the tournament.

Read more: Olympics silver medalist suspended for breaching doping rule

Sindhu, placed as the sixth seed in the tournament as well as
boasting of a world ranking of seven in women’s singles, will go up against
Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt. Nehwal, on the other hand, will look to solidify her
position and navigate a way back to the top as she takes on Malaysia’s Kisona Selvaduray.

The tournament features other dominant names, such as
Spain’s Carolina Marin, who is the fifth seed of the tournament and holds the sixth
ranking in the women’s singles division, going up against France’s Qui Xuefei.

One of Thailand’s best bets to win the tournament –
Ratchanok Intanon – currently fifth placed in the women’s singles division and
fourth seeded for the tournament, is drawn up against Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min.

Also read: Late Roma equaliser holds back Inter, Napoli grab win against Udinese

Amongst notable draws in the Doubles format, the team of Indian
shuttlers Ashwini Ponappa and N Sikki Reddy will face the Korean duo Kim So
Yeong and Kong Hee Yong, where the former is the fourth seed in the doubles
format. Yeong also is currently situated in the sixth spot in the world in the division.

In Mixed Doubles, B Sumeeth Reddy and N Sikki Reddy will be
squaring against Hongkong’s Tang Chau Man and Tse Ying Suet. Man is the eighth
seed in the tournament.