Boost for Antonsen after Denmark Open draw

Important man: Denmark will be counting on Anders Antonsen to win the title as their reigning All-England champion Viktor Axelsen is still recovering from surgery.

PETALING JAYA: World No. 3 Anders Antonsen received a boost in his bid to become the first home shuttler to win the Denmark Open men’s singles title in 10 years.

The 23-year-old must have felt relieved after learning from Tuesday’s draw that he has avoided Japanese top seed Kento Momota in the same half of the Oct 13-18 tournament in Odense.

The home fans will be counting on Antonsen to deliver as reigning All-England champion Viktor Axelsen is still recuperating from an ankle surgery.

Antonsen should face little problem entering the quarter-finals where he is expected to take on compatriot Jan O Jorgensen in what could be an emotional farewell for the latter.

The 32-year-old Jorgensen announced in June that he will be retiring after the tournament.

The former world No. 2 was the last local winner in the men’s singles competition, a feat Antonsen aims to emulate.

However, before thinking ahead of a possible final clash with Momota, Antonsen must first negotiate a tricky semi-final encounter against world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen.

Antonsen has a dreadful record against the Taiwanese, winning just once in seven meetings.The other notable name in the bottom half is India’s K. Srikanth, who won in 2017.

It remains to be seen if world No.1 Momota will be able to produce his top game on his competitive return since being crowned the Malaysian Masters champion in January.

Momota had missed the last two months of action before the season was suspended due to Covid-19 pandemic after he was involved in a road accident a day after his win in Malaysia.

On paper, Momota should start as the overwhelming favourite as he has a clear path until the last four where his compatriots Kenta Nishimoto or Kanta Tsuneyama stand in his way.

Momota will kickstart his attempt for a third successive title against 18-year-old Brian Yang of Canada, the Pan Am Championships’ silver medallist.

The other youngsters aim to make their presence felt in the absence of a host of top players include 19-year-old Lakhsya Sen of India and 18-year-old Christo Popov of France.

Lakshya is the 2018 Asian junior champion while Popov created history as the first player from France to win a medal in the World Junior Championships in Kazan, Russia, last year.

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