Badminton: Top-ranked Tai Tzu-ying handed tough draw for world tour showpiece

Tai Tzu-ying (above) was bracketed with home favourite Ratchanok Intanon and Indian star P.V. Sindhu. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BANGKOK (AFP) - Badminton's world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying was handed a tough draw at Thailand's World Tour Finals on Tuesday (Jan 26) as she was bracketed with home favourite Ratchanok Intanon and Indian star P.V. Sindhu.

Tai, former world champion Ratchanok and Olympic silver medallist Sindhu are in the women's singles Group B together with Thailand's Pornpawee Chochuwong for the round-robin stage of the biosecure tournament in Bangkok.

The delayed 2020 season finale, starting on Wednesday, is the third behind-closed-doors event in three weeks in the Thai capital as badminton resumes after months of near-inactivity owing to the coronavirus.

Spanish top seed Carolina Marin, seeking a hat-trick of wins in Bangkok, will face South Korean teen sensation An Se-young, Canada's Michelle Li and Russia's Evgeniya Kosetskaya in Group A.

In the men's singles, Denmark's Viktor Axelsen - who is also unbeaten over the past fortnight - faces Taiwan's world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen, Indonesia's Anthony Ginting and Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia in Group B.

Denmark's Anders Antonsen, India's Srikanth Kidambi, Chinese Taipei's Wang Tzu-wei and Hong Kong's Angus Ng are in Group A.

Men's champion Kento Momota tested positive for Covid-19 just before the Thai tournaments began, forcing him to withdraw along with the entire Japanese team.

China's team, including women's title holder Chen Yufei, were unable to travel because of the country's strict coronavirus rules.

Despite the biosecurity arrangements, four people inside the Bangkok "bubble" have tested positive for the coronavirus, including two players who were forced to withdraw.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.