Birmingham: The stage is set for the 2021 All England. So much will be different about this year’s event as the oldest badminton tournament in the world will be held without spectators, and World No. 1, Kento Momota is making his return after a 14-month layoff since surviving a fatal car crash in Malaysia on Jan 13, 2020.
Undoubtedly, all focus will be on Momota as he will be competing for the first time in a year and two months and his main rival at the 2021 England will be World No. 2 Victor Axelsen of Denmark.
Axelsen who is also the reigning All England champion had a sizzling-hot start in 2021. He bagged two consecutive Thailand Opens in January, made the final of the 2020 BWF World Tour Finals, and won the Swiss Open that concluded two weeks ago.
In the 2019 All England final, both Momota and Axelsen fought tooth and nail over practically every single point, before Momota ultimately scratched out a 21-11, 15-21, 21-15 three-set win.
Momota will need to kick into high gear from the first round if he is aiming to win his second All England title. The top seed will open against Parupalli Kashyap of India and could face Daren Liew of Malaysia in the second round, and then No. 6 seed Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia in the quarter-finals. He would need to overcome No. 4 seed Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia in the semi-finals before reaching the title match.
Meanwhile, Axelsen who was in the bottom half of the draw begins his campaign against Koki Watanabe of Japan in the first round, and possibly No. 5 seed Jonatan Christie of Indonesia in the quarter-finals, and No. 3 seed, Anders Antonsen could await Axelsen in the final four.
It will be exciting to see both players go after each other again in this year’s All England final.