Women’s Doubles at Sudirman Cup – A Form Guide

Friday, May 10, 2019
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO

Japan’s riches in women’s doubles at the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2019 lead to the interesting question – which of their top three pairs will they field, and at what stages?

Jongkolphan Kititharakul (left) and Rawinda Prajongjai of Thailand.

Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara were recently crowned world No.1; close behind are Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota, who have been a model of consistency with five semi-finals in six tournaments.

The third pair – Olympic champions Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi – have had a roller-coaster ride this season – four early exits and three final places.

Thailand, in Group 1A with Japan, have fewer problems of choice. Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai have had a fairly even – if unspectacular – run over the past few months. Thailand have a second option in Puttita Supajirakul/Sapsiree Taerattanachai – but as Taerattanachai heads their mixed doubles challenge with Dechapol Puavaranukroh, this option may only be sparingly used.

Indonesia, in Group 2B with Denmark and England, have three women’s doubles regulars – Greysia Polii, Apriyani Rahayu and Mahadewi Istirani Ni Ketut. The onus will be on Polii and Rahayu to deliver; Ketut’s usual partners Rizki Amelia Pradipta and Anggia Shitta Awanda aren’t in the team.

Polii and Rahayu are a dependable frontline combination – they were runners-up at the Malaysia Masters and winners at the India Open – and Indonesia can harbour hopes of a strong campaign as they appear solid on all fronts.

Greysia Polii (right) and Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia.

Group-mates Denmark will be without their longtime warriors Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl. Maiken Fruergaard/Sara Thygesen, ranked No.19, will carry their fortunes in this department. Fruergaard and Thygesen though have played only one tournament this year – the All England – where they crashed out in the first round.

Like Denmark, England too have one frontline women’s doubles option – No.32 Chloe Birch/Lauren Smith, winners of the Orleans Masters.

In Group 3A, the strongest women’s doubles pairs are with Korea. The Koreans have some big guns, with players like Chang Ye Na, Shin Seung Chan, Kim So Yeong and Kong Hee Yong. Kong has a good record with various partners; but as Kong and Kim So Yeong were impressive at the New Zealand Open, they could be Korea’s go-to pair.

Kim So Yeong (left) and Kong Hee Yong of Korea, winners of the New Zealand Open.

Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong, Korea’s group-mates, look under-served in women’s doubles. Chinese Taipei are without Hsu Ya Ching and Hu Ling Fang, and will look to Wu Ti Jung, Chang Ching Hui, Yang Ching Tun and possibly Pai Yu Po.

Hong Kong can count on No.37 Ng Tsz Yau/Yuen Sin Ying and No.39 Ng Wing Yung/Yeung Nga Ting – neither pair has had noteworthy accomplishments this season.

China in Group 1A sit pretty with the resources at their command – their first choice will be Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan – who will arrive in Nanning with title wins at the All England, the Malaysia Open, and the Badminton Asia Championships.

Chow Mei Kuan (left) and Lee Meng Yean finished runners-up at the India Open.

Du Yue/Li Yinhui – German Open winners – can be fielded when necessary; more choices are available with players like Huang Dongping, Huang Yaqiong and Zheng Yu.

Malaysia will count on Chow Mei Kuan/Lee Meng Yean or Vivian Hoo/Yap Cheng Wen. Chow/Lee won the Syed Modi International late last year and had a stunning run to the final of the India Open 2019.

India will have to rely on Ashwini Ponnappa/Sikki Reddy, who were runners-up at the Syed Modi International last year.