Taming the Host for Thomas Cup
The 2021 Thomas Cup is about to begin in Aarhus, Denmark, home of the only team that appears in every Thomas Cup since its inception. In 2016, Denmark was able to make history at the Thomas Cup that was held in Kunshan, China. For the first time in the history of the Thomas Cup, Denmark won and became the first European country to lift the cup. However, until today, they haven’t been able to repeat their sweet victory. Now that Denmark is the host, they will surely give their all to win. But of course, it will not be easy as teams of Asian nations are ready to maintain Asia’s supremacy in badminton.
Having the Thomas Cup 2021 hosted in Denmark on October 9-7, gives the Danish team an advantage of competing in a familiar climate and situation. But how strong is their squad?
In terms of the composition of athletes at the 2021 Thomas Cup, the host relies on the single sector in the event that should have been held in 2020 and withdrew due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Denmark has three singles players that are in the top 20 of the world. In fact, two of their representatives are in the top three, namely Viktor Axelsen in second place and Anders Antonsen in third. Meanwhile, Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus is ranked 20th.
However, in doubles, their strength is not like in the singles category. Denmark will ''only'' rely on world #11 pair Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup.
This gap can be an advantage for Asian challengers such as China, Japan, Korea, and Indonesia. China is still a strong candidate to defend the title even without their top players Chen Long and the duo Li Jun Hui/Liu Yu Chen Twin joining the Thomas Cup 2021 squad.
In the singles category, the 10-time Thomas Cup winner is relying on Shi Yu Qi. In the Sudirman Cup, the #10 world ranking player became one of the key players for his country to defend its title in the mixed team event held in Vantaa, Finland, last week. In the final, Shi Yu Qi defeated world #1 Kento Momota, when in fact on paper, he was expected to lose.
The other men's singles players are still ranked below Shi Yu Qi. There is Lu Guang Zu, who is ranked 27th, and Li Shi Feng (65th). While in the doubles, China fielded the world number 20 pair He Ji Ting/Tan Qiang.
Looking at the existing composition, China's chances are not as big as 3 years ago when they won the title. However, the spirit and skills they possess can bring them to the title.
Meanwhile, for the 2021 Thomas Cup, Indonesia has two singles and three doubles pairs in the top 10. This makes Indonesia placed as the top seed.
In singles, Indonesia, the record holder for the most wins in the Thomas Cup with 13 titles, has Anthony Sinisuka Ginting (5th world ranking) and Jonatan Christie in 7th position. While in the doubles, the world's number 1 and 2nd pairs are from Indonesia, namely Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo/Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Hendra Setiawan/Mohammad Ahsan.
However, they are currently rather unstable as we can see in the last two events: the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2021 Sudirman Cup. In these two tournaments, Indonesia didn’t do as well as expected.
Other countries to watch out for are Malaysia and Korea. However, the uneven strength in the five categories can make it difficult for the two countries to penetrate the final round.
In the men’s singles, Malaysia has Lee Zii Jia who is in his prime. He defeated two top players Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting and Japan’s Kento Momota at the Sudirman Cup 2021. Unfortunately, the other men’s singles players are not as powerful: Cheam June Wei (rank #70) and Ng Tze Yong (rank #82). In the men’s doubles, Malaysia only relies on Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medalist Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik who is the world’s #8. The other men’s doubles pair from Malaysia is Goh Sze Fei/Nur Izzudin (rank #26). The last time Malaysia owned the Thomas Cup was in 1992 when they hosted the cup.
Meanwhile, South Korea isn’t as strong as it was in the Lee Yong Dae era. At the men’s singles, they rely on Heo Kwanghee who is ranked #33.