Defending champion Kento Momota will be the player to beat when the men's event of the 2019 Badminton World Championships gets underway on Monday at St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland.
Momota has a strong case to defend his crown against an injury-thinned field that's missing some top stars. However, Momota can't afford to be overconfident since there are still some formidable players set to compete, including five-time winner Lin Dan.
The women's title could belong to PV Sindhu, who is determined to go one better after reaching the finals of the past two tournaments. Injuries have also affected this event, with reigning champion Carolina Marin set to miss out after tearing her ACL.
Dates: August 19 to August 25
Live Stream: BadmintonWorld.tv
- Round of 32: Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. BST/3 a.m. ET
- Round of 16: Wednesday from 8 a.m. BST/3 a.m. ET
- Quarter-finals: Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. BST/5 a.m. ET
- Semi-finals: Saturday from 10 a.m. BST/5 a.m. ET
- Final: August 25 from 11 a.m. BST/6 a.m. ET
Full draw available on the tournament's official website.
Momota will be expected to dominate given the high-profile absences from the main bracket. The most notable include Shi Yuqi, Son Wan Ho and Viktor Axelsen, per Sanjeev Palar of the Olympic Channel.
By contrast, Momota is not only fully fit, but he's also entering the tournament on a roll. The 24-year-old recently retained the Japan Open title to cement his status as the top-ranked men's player on the planet.
Add his latest title to prizes won in Singapore, England and Germany, and Momota has all the confidence and momentum he needs to keep hold of the world crown.
Dan has the pedigree to upset Momota, but a sixth world title may be just beyond the 35-year-old at this stage of his decorated career.
While the men's draw appears set to lead toward a predictable conclusion, the women's bracket is tougher to call. Marin's knee injury guarantees a new champion, with Sindhu having a strong chance.
Last year's beaten finalist needs to overcome a recurring mental block at the business end of tournaments. Sindhu has only reached one final this year, losing to Akane Yamaguchi at the Indonesia Open, per Jaspreet Sahni of The Times of India.
The defeat was an uncomfortable reminder of losing Marin at the last year's World Championships and to Nozomi Okuhara the year before. If Sindhu, ranked No. 5 in the world, can hold her nerve when it counts, she has the talent to finally lift the big prize.