Taipei, Dec. 6 (CNA) Taiwan's top two badminton players, Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎) and Chou Tien-chen (周天成), are set to compete at the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals, which open Wednesday in Bangkok.
Tai, who is currently ranked third in the world in women's singles, will play in Group B in the eight-player draw with world no. 5 He Bingjiao (何冰嬌) of China, and seventh-ranked Ratchanok Intanon and 10th-ranked Busanan Ongbamrungphan of Thailand.
Group A will feature world no. 1 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, world no. 2 An Se-young of South Korea, world no. 4 Chen Yufei (陳雨菲) of China, and world no. 18 Gregoria Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia.
The 28-year-old Tai, who has struggled at times with nagging injuries this year, has not been as dominant this year as in the past.
Aside from winning the Taipei Open in July against a relatively weak field, she has reached the finals of major tournaments only twice in 2022, at the Thailand Open in mid-May and the Indonesia Open in mid-June, though she won them both.
She lost in the semifinals of the World Championships in Tokyo in late August to Chen Yufei, and in her most recent event, the French Open in late October, she was knocked out in the quarterfinals by He Bingjiao.
Tai told CNA that she was not feeling nervous about this year's Tour Finals and said she was following her normal training routine in preparing for the tournament.
She also said she would take in stride the announcement of BWF Female Player of the Year honors, which she won in 2021.
At the annual awards ceremony held Monday night in Bangkok, Yamaguchi ended up getting the nod over Tai and An.
Yamaguchi defended her title at the 2022 World Championships and also captured the highly prestigious All England Open and Japan Open, giving her the edge over her two rivals.
On the men's side, Taiwan's Chou, ranked fourth in the world, was drawn in Group B with world no. 5 Jonatan Christie of Indonesia, world no. 3 Loh Kean Yew of Singapore, and world no. 7 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia.
World no. 1 Viktor Axelsen will be in Group A along with 12th-ranked H.S. Prannoy of India, 14th-ranked Kodai Naraoka of Japan and 17th-ranked Lu Guangzu of China.
Chou told CNA he felt good about competing in the Finals, saying it felt like an "annual bonus."
"I'm so happy to be competing and will give it everything I have to play my best in every match," Chou said.
Group round robin matches will be played from Wednesday to Friday, with the top two players in each group advancing to the semifinals of their respective events.
The by-invitation tournament, which carries a total purse of US$1.5 million for its five events, features the top eight players and pairs in the HSBC BWF World Tour Rankings.
Also, only up to two players or pairs are allowed per member association, and current world champions gain automatic entry.
The HSBC World Tour rankings are quite different from the overall BWF rankings because they only account for performances in HSBC BWF World Tour events.
That difference explains why some top eight players in the overall rankings do not make the Tour Finals and why some of the groups seem particularly strong, such as Group A in the women's singles draw.
World no. 1 Yamaguchi, for example, is only ranked 10th in HSBC BWF World Tour events, and she was therefore treated as a lower seed in the draw.
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Taiwanese badminton players Chou Tien-chen (left) and Tai Tzu-ying attended the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals gala dinner in Bngkok, Thailand on Monday evening. CNA photo Dec. 5, 2022