Japan's badminton world No. 1 Kento Momota competes in the first round of All-Japan National Championships in Tokyo on December 23,
Japan's badminton world No. 1 Kento Momota Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Kento Momota of Japan and China’s Tai Tzu Ying maintained their perch in the men’s and women’s singles after the BWF World Rankings were unfrozen following the conclusion of last week’s HBSC BWF World Tour Finals 2020.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) had frozen the rankings lists on March 31 last year in response to the disruptions caused in the tournament schedule following the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will now be held from July 23 to August 8 this year, and the BWF will now initiate a review process to confirm any impact this has on the actual Olympic qualifying system.

Momota and the rest of the Japanese squad couldn’t compete at the recent three-tournament championships held in Bangkok after world No. 1 Momota tested positive for COVID-19 prior to departing from Tokyo.

The 26-year-old Japanese player had marked last month’s three tournaments – Yonex Thailand Open, Toyota Thailand Open and the World Tour Finals - to make his comeback following his ghastly car crash after winning last year’s Malaysia Masters.

Momota was involved in a collisoion on the way to the airport during which he suffered a broken nose as well as injuries to his lips and face. The Japanese player – who has two World Championships titles, two Asian Championships titles and one All England title – entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the most Badminton Men’s singles titles in a season – 11, between March 3 and December 15, 2019.

Tai has been at the top of her game since she first became the world No. 1 for the first time in December 2016 when she was just 22. Tai went on to hold the record for most weeks ranked at the top in BWF history with 148 weeks (as of March 17, 2020) after which the BWF froze the rankings.

Tai was the women’s singles gold medalist at the 2018 Asian Games and she went on to win back-to-back titles at the Asian Championships held in Wuhan in 2017 and 2018.

Tai had a successful 2020 where she finished runner-up at the Malaysian Masters after which she won the All England Open title for the third time, thereby becoming only the second female player after Ye Zhaoying to clinch three titles by contesting four consecutive finals in this tournament.

Last month, she had to settle for second best at the two successive Tahiland Open Super 1000 events while losing to Carolina Marin on both occasions. But she finally overcame her Spanish opponent at the BWF World Tour Finals while contesting her fifth end of season championships final, and winning it for the third time.

Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota and Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong will continue with their positions at the top of the doubles categories.

The BWF has recently announced the start of the 2021 calendar starting with two back-to-back Super 300 events – the Swiss Open in Basel from March 1 followed by the German Open in Mulheim from March 8. The highlight will be the All England Open scheduled to be held in Birmingham from March 15.

BWF RANKINGS

Men’s Singles
1. Kento Momota (Japan)
2. Viktor Axelsen (Denmark)
3. Anders Antonsen (Denmark)
4. Chou Tien Chen (China)
5. Anthony Sinisuka Ginting (Indonesia)
6. Chen Long (China)
7. Jonatan Christie (Indonesia)
8. Ng Ka Long Angus (Hong Kong)
9. Wang Tzu Wei (China)
10. Shi Yu Qi (China)
Women’s Singles
1. Tai Tzu Ying (China)
2. Chen Yu Fei (China)
3. Carolina Marin (Spain)
4. Nozomi Okuhara (Japan)
5. Akane Yamaguchi (Japan)
6. Ratchanok Intanon (Indonesia)
7. PV Sindhu (India)
8. An Se-Young (South Korea)
9. He Bing Jiao (China)
10. Michelle Li (Canada)