Thomas Cup and Uber Cup will tip off in New Delhi on Sunday, May 18, with China as the clear favorite among the contenders, but not without worries.
While there is no shortage of badminton talent in the Uber Cup squad, China’s Thomas Cup lineup is the weakest in a decade with the quality and depth of men’s doubles remains worrisome.
The Chinese Thomas Cup has the strongest men’s singles roster in the event featuring World No. two Chen Long, Du Pengyu, Tian Houwei, and five-time world champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Lin Dan. This lineup already left their opponents feeling suffocated by just hearing their names. The apparent weakness for the Chinese are men’s doubles Liu Xiaolong/Qiu Zihan, where their performance has deteriorated after their outstanding All England and Sudirman Cup performance last year; With Hong Wei/Chai Biao who had been struggling for consistency in recent months, and newly formed pair of Fu Haifeng/Zhang Nan, how far can China go in the Thomas Cup tournament is remain to be seen. Lin Dan is expected to play third singles or even second singles should the coaches decided to bench Du Pengyu.
As for the other teams, the 13-time Thomas Cup champion, Indonesia has Tommy Sugiarto and Simon Santoso, Malaysia led by World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei , Denmark featured Jan O. Jorgensen and Japan with Kenichi Tago. These are teams that could pose a threat to China.
China is drawn into Group D with Taiwan, Russia and France. It should be able to reach quarterfinals with no problem.
On the other hand, the Chinese Uber Cup is the dream team in women badminton. Its top three singles comprises the top three players in the world -Li Xuerui, Wang Shixian and Wang Yihan. With World No. 2 Bao Yixin /Tang Jinhua as their first doubles and reigning Olympic gold medalist Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei as their second doubles, BadmintonPlanet.com don’t see why they won’t be able to defense their title.
Other Uber Cup contenders China should watch out for are Korea, India, and Indonesia. According to Saina Nehwal of India, she is confident of doing well in front of the home crowd that the India team can make the semifinals.
The recently-introduced hawk-eye instant review technology will be applied for the first time on one of the four courts.