Will Asia be triumphant in this year's Swiss Open?
Last month, badminton started out the year strong as there were back to back to back tournaments held in Bangkok, Thailand at the Thailand Open and World Tour Finals. The 3 intense and exciting weeks of matches was only the beginning of what’s left to come this year.
Next week, we have another thrilling competition. The 2021 Swiss Open will take place at St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland on the 2nd - 7th March and will be the first tournament of the 2021 BWF World Tour.
This Super 300 tournament has been around for a long time since 1955. Historically, European countries such as Denmark have dominated this championship, especially around the 60s - 90s, with the country winning a total of 54 medals so far. Germany has also won 30.5 medals, and Netherlands with 22.
However, the 90s beyond saw the rise in badminton’s popularity in Asian nations, and with that came great success. China, who previously weren’t doing well in the Swiss Open, started to dominate in the late 90s until now. They have created champions in all categories they’ve competed in. Legendary players like Lin Dan have won the championship 3 times in 2004, 2008 and 2017. Now, they are second in the medal count with 51 so far. It’s only a matter of time before they surpass Demark’s record.
Other Asian countries have also done well in recent years. South Korea is fifth overall in the medal count, with 20 medals to their name. They’ve been especially great at the doubles events, the latest being the women’s doubles pair Jung Kyung-eun and Chang Ye-na claiming the title in 2019.
Malaysia is next at number 6 with 14 medals and Indonesia is ninth with 9 medals. In the last 10 years, barely any Malaysian or Indonesian players have stepped up on the Swiss Open podium. The last time a Malaysian player was on the podium was in 2009 when Lee Chong Wei took home the gold for the men’s singles and Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong for men’s doubles. Indonesian duo Muhammad Rian Ardianto and Fajar Alfian won the men’s double event in 2019, but it’s only been those two in recent memory. WIll this year finally be different for the two countries? Can they overcome the challenges and thrive in this year’s Swiss Open?
Just like the Thailand Open, this year’s Swiss Open will be vastly different from the previous ones held due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Several countries have chosen to withdraw their players from the competition including China and Japan, due to the safety regulations in their respective countries. These two powerhouses also did not participate in the Thailand Open and the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals last month in Bangkok, Thailand. Other countries such as Indonesia have many players participating in the Swiss Open, but several of them have also withdrawn due to various reasons.
This year, many players have the chance to win their very first Swiss Open. In the men’s singles category, Viktor Axelsen, who was a champion last month, is seeded first. This is followed by Malaysian player Lee Zii Jia, and Danish player Rasmus Gemke. In the women’s singles, Thailand Open champion Carolina Marín is seeded first. But can the world #3 retain another title, or will she be defeated by the likes of P. V. Sindhu or Busanan Ongbamrungphan?
In the doubles category, many pairs who competed at the Thailand Open are also hoping for another chance at glory in Switzerland. Malaysian duo Aaron Chia / Soh Wooi Yik are competing, and so are their compatriots Goh V Shem / Tan Wee Kiong. In the women’s doubles, Jongkolphan Kititharakul / Rawinda Prajongjai are seeded first. It looks like they are competing for another round of victory from last month’s competition. Or perhaps, we will see new faces as the victors, such as Indonesian pair Hafiz Faizal / Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja who are seeded second in the mixed doubles category. Will they shine this March?
It will be an interesting tournament because of the circumstances that arise. Will we see a repeat of what happened last month, and have the same winners as the ones in Thailand? Or will we see new faces standing on the podium in Basel to claim the title?
We hope our Asian players will be triumphant in this year’s competition. Badminton Asia wishes everyone involved luck and success in the 2021 Swiss Open.