A strong Chinese team will look to stamp its class in front of its home crowd at the TotalEnergies BWF Sudirman Cup Finals 2023. With China hosting its first major event in over three years, the home team will be keen to gift its fans a record-extending 13th title.
The Asian powerhouse have won every one of five previous Sudirman Cup championships held at home, and will want to make no mistake this time either. With a team rich in ability and experience, the Chinese have few perceivable weaknesses for their opponents to exploit.
Yet, Chinese Badminton Association (CBA) President Zhang Jun preferred to stay cautious on the team’s chances. In comments published by Xinhua, Zhang, also the doubles head coach, said: “Our women’s pair (Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan) have always been No.1 in the world, but last year at the Uber Cup, they lost (to Korea). Their ranking is too high, and I’m worried they are carrying pressure.”
Zhang was also concerned that China’s men’s singles (Shi Yu Qi, Li Shi Feng) were “relatively weak”, but expressed his confidence they have been in good form lately.
“Our goal is definitely to defend the title; we are going to strive for the title, there’s no doubt about it,” stated Zhang.
Before China get to the business end of the event, they will have to deal with Denmark, Singapore and Egypt in Group A. Denmark, whose last Sudirman Cup medal came 10 years ago, will be wary of Singapore, who could, on their day, thwart their ambitions of finishing in the top two of the group.
Only two teams apart from China have ever won the Sudirman Cup – Indonesia and Korea. Indonesia’s title was in the inaugural year 1989; since then, they have come up short in six finals.
This time they are in Group B with Thailand, Germany and Canada. Indonesia sport a strong all-round look, especially with Gregoria Mariska Tunjung’s improved recent performances. And while both Germany and Canada have their strengths, Indonesia and Thailand appear to have the firepower to make the quarterfinals and beyond.
The trickiest group in the competition, the ‘Group of Death’, is Group C, with Malaysia, Chinese Taipei, India and Australia.
India, having unexpectedly won their first major team event – the Thomas Cup – last year, will hope to create another sensation. Given their strength in the singles and men’s doubles, and with the emergence of a strong women’s pair in Treesa Jolly/Gayatri Gopichand Pullela, the Indians could go far.
Chinese Taipei, given their wealth of talent, will also be confident of returning with a medal – something they have never achieved. And with Malaysia’s recent performances in individual events seeing an uptick, everything points to some exciting ties in this group.
Japan, runners-up at three of the last four editions, and Korea, winners in 2017, are the heavyweights in Group D, which also has France and England. Japan will be encouraged by the form of Kodai Naraoka and Akane Yamaguchi, while Korea, despite their frailty in men’s singles, have sufficient resources in the other departments to mount a challenge for the title.
France have emerged a European power in recent years, and given their talent in men’s singles and mixed doubles, will back themselves for an upset.
Host city Suzhou have laid out the red carpet for the visiting teams. The action starts Sunday 14 May at 10am local time, with Chinese Taipei vs India (Group C); Korea vs France (Group D) and Malaysia vs Australia (Group C).
China take on Egypt in the evening session that starts 5pm local time. As they begin their campaign for their 13th title, Zhang sounded a note of caution to the team.
“When facing the pressure, we must look for the secret of winning, and research our main opponents. In addition, we must be brave enough to fight. Chinese players must forget about their previous wins and losses, adjust their mentality well, and not be conservative because they are the defending champions.”