China, Japan, Korea and Indonesia look strong in Sudirman Cup
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Asian badminton powerhouses China, Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia are once again the frontrunners in the Sudirman Cup when the World Mixed Team Championships begin in the Chinese city of Nanning this Sunday.
Only three countries have won the title with China winning it 10 times, Korea four and Indonesia clinching it once when it hosted the inaugural meet in Jakarta in 1989.
The Sudirman Cup is named after Dick Sudirman, a former Indonesian badminton player and founder of the Badminton Association of Indonesian (PBSI).
Japan is the top seed in Nanning with China second while Indonesia takes the third slot followed by Chinese Taipei, defending champions Korea, Denmark, Thailand, India, and Malaysia.
Rankings were based on BWF rankings list of March 5, 2019.
2020 Tokyo Olympics hosts Japan have been drawn in Group 1A together with Thailand and Russia.
In Group 1B are Indonesia, Denmark, and England while Chinese Taipei, Korea, and Hong Kong China are placed in Group 1C with China, India, and Malaysia keeping company in Group 1D.
The top two teams in each group will advance to the quarter-finals.
Korea won the Sudirman Cup for the fourth time with a thrilling 3-2 win over China in the final in Gold Coast.
China won the Sudirman Cup for the 10th time in 2015 with a 3-0 win over Japan in Dongguan, China.
It is also Japan's best ever result in the mixed-team championships.
Champions Korea has been dealt a severe blow in their bid to retain the title with injuries to men's singles Son Won-ho (ruptured Achilles tendon) and women's singles Sung Ji-Hyun (wrist).
Both played a key role in winning the Sudirman Cup in 2017.
However, Korea can count on their teen sensation An Se-Young, who recently won the New Zealand Open and Kim Ga Eun in the women's singles.
The Koreans also have strong women's doubles pairs - Chang Ye Na-Shin Seung Chan and Kim So Yeong-Kong Hee Yong.
China looks formidable in every department with Olympic champion Chen Long and World No 2 Shi Yuqi leading the challenge in the men's singles.
All-England champion Chen Yufei will power the women's singles.
In the men's doubles, there is Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen and in the women's doubles, the host nation can count on Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan.
Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong reign supreme in the mixed doubles.
Indonesia has two of its top rising stars - Asian Games champion Jonata Christie and Anthony Ginting (Asian Games bronze medallist) - in the men's singles.
They also have three pairs in the top five in the men's doubles - World No 1 Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, fourth-ranked Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan (winners of the All England and New Zealand Open this year) and Fajar Alfian Muhammad Rian Ardianto ranked a rung below.
Women's singles are powered by former World Junior champion Gregoria Mariska and Fitriani Fitriani while in the mixed doubles Indonesia is strong with Hafiz Faizal-Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja (No 6) and Praveen Jordan-Melati Daeva Oktavianti (No 7).
Japan is powered by World No 1 and world champion Kento Momota.
There are also Kenta Nishimoto (No 10) and Kanta Tsuneyama at No 11.
Nozomi Okuhara, currently ranked number two and Akane Yamaguchi (No 4) are the hopes in the women's singles.
Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda and Hiroyuki Endo-Yuta Watanabe give Japan enough firepower in the men's doubles together with Takuto Inoue-Yuki Kaneko.
Japan is also top heavy in the women's doubles with world champions Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara ranked number one, Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota at number two and Olympic champions Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi ranked fourth.