Four key men’s doubles pairings — dubbed by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) as “the group of death” — are to take over two courts side-by-side today just after midday in Tokyo, in matches that already have the badminton world abuzz.
What is formally known as Group A pits pairings from Taiwan, Indonesia, India and Britain against one another — the former three ranked in the top 10.
Taiwanese pairing Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin are set to challenge Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty of India, while world No. 1 duo Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo of Indonesia are to play Britain’s Ben Lane and Sean Vendy.
Despite being ranked 10th in the world by the BWF, the pair from India have beaten most of the teams ahead of them and have been in the semi-finals of two of their past three tournaments.
Ahead of the Games, Shetty and Rankireddy in January roped in Denmark’s former Olympic silver medalist Mathias Boe as their new coach, but Lee and Wang are ranked seven places ahead of the India duo and will be tough to beat.
The Indonesia pairing — fondly known at home as the Minions due to their diminutive stature — won the All England Open men’s doubles titles in 2017 and 2018, and are nearly 20,000 points ahead of the Taiwanese pair, despite having played 11 fewer tournaments.
At a clear disadvantage, Britain’s Vendy and Lane are at No. 18 in the rankings, but they will not be taken lightly, having made it to the semi-finals of the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals last year.
Asian athletes typically dominate the badminton tournament and won 92 of the 106 Olympic Games medals available from 1992 to 2016.
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