Badminton is back: Denmark Open 2020 taking place this week

Anders Antonsen of Denmark competes in the men's singles match against Sameer Verma of India at the Japan Open Badminton Championships, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games test event at Musashino Forest Sport Plaza (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
Anders Antonsen of Denmark competes in the men's singles match against Sameer Verma of India at the Japan Open Badminton Championships, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games test event at Musashino Forest Sport Plaza (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

Tokyo 2020 ranking points on offer at the Super 750 tournament in Odense, marking the return of international badminton for the first time since the All England Open in March

Badminton will mark its return to international competition for the first time in seven months, with the Denmark Open from 13 to 18 October.

The last global tournament to be played before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world and sport grinding to a halt, was the All England Open in March.

Since then the Badminton World Federation (BWF) has sought to fine a safe solution to enable the resumption of play.

Initial plans to host the Denmark Open and the Denmark Masters, along with the Thomas and Uber Cups, also had to be reassessed, leaving the Denmark Open as the sole event on the calendar.

It's taking place in Odense, and despite a number of top players being unable to travel, the Super 750 event features several top-10 stars and some promising young talent

Here are the key things to know about the event, which offers crucial ranking points for qualification to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Women's singles rematch: Okuhara Nozomi vs Carolina Marin

With top seed and 2016 winner YAMAGUCHI Akane withdrawing from the competition, Japan's OKUHARA Nozomi and Spain's Olympic Champion Carolina Marin are the top ranked players in the tournament.

Last year the pair met in the semi-finals in Odense, with the Japanese player getting the better of the Spaniard in three tight games.

Okuhara, a 2017 world champion, will be hoping to clinch her first title of the season after suffering some unexpected and early defeats at the start of the year.

But she won't have it easy with three-time world champ Marin looking to do the same. The 2016 Rio gold medallist will be hoping to continue her sensational comeback from an ACL injury, and is also in the hunt for her maiden title in 2020.

But let's not forget home favourite Mia Blichfeldt, the 23-year-old told Olympic Channel that she has been working on her mental approach to the game during the pandemic and feels very much ready to take her game to the next level.

With the crowd behind her, Blichfeldt could be poised to pull off a surprise or two on home soil.

Antonsen lead's Denmark's charge in men's event

World No.3 Anders Antonsen will lead Denmark's men's singles charge on home soil.

The 23-year-old is the top seeded Danish player at this tournament and shared exclusively with Olympic Channel his desire to go all the way to the top in the sport.

After clinching silver at the 2019 World Championships, the Dane has been growing in confidence and will cherish the opportunity to pick up his maiden Super 750 title.

But he'll have plenty of opposition, including compatriots Rasmus Gemke as well as Jan O Jogensen, the last Dane to clinch the title back in 2010.

Antonsen will also have to contend against the likes of top seed CHOU Tien Chen from Chinese Taipei and India's Rio 2016 quarter-finallist Kidambi Srikanth, who will be looking to emulate this 2017 victory in Denmark.

भारत के Kidambi Srikanth 2019 इंडोनेशिया ओपन में जापान के Nishimoto Kenta के खिलाफ खेलते हुए। (फोटो Robertus Pudyanto/गेट्टी इमेजेस द्वारा)
भारत के Kidambi Srikanth 2019 इंडोनेशिया ओपन में जापान के Nishimoto Kenta के खिलाफ खेलते हुए। (फोटो Robertus Pudyanto/गेट्टी इमेजेस द्वारा)
2019 Getty Images

Men's singles without Momota

Perhaps the most anticipated player on the start list was Japan's MOMOTA Kento.

The two-time world champion was set to make his international return following his near-death road accident in January and subsequent eye operation.

However, the Nippon Badminton Association have confirmed the world No.1's withdrawal, along with several other top ranked Japanese players.

Currently leading the Tokyo 2020 qualification rankings, Momota is sure to qualify for his home Olympics and can thus be selective about the tournaments he plays in from now until the Games next summer.

Momota Kento of Japan competes in the Men's Singles Final against Jonatan Christie of Indonesia at the Daihatsu Yonex Japan Open Badminton Championships, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games test event on July 28, 2019 (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
Momota Kento of Japan competes in the Men's Singles Final against Jonatan Christie of Indonesia at the Daihatsu Yonex Japan Open Badminton Championships, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games test event on July 28, 2019 (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
2019 Getty Images

Strong doubles fields in Denmark

The women's doubles competition has been spared any major withdrawals, and as a result the event boasts arguably the best two pairs in the world set to battle it out for the title.

Two-time and reigning world champions MATSUMOTO Mayu and NAGAHARA Wakana from Japan will be eager to put their poor start to the 2020 season behind them following an early exit at the Indonesian Masters in January and All England Open quarter-final loss.

However they will have to defeat compatriots FUKUSHIMA Yuki and HIROTA Sayaka who won this year's All England Open and currently top the Tokyo 2020 qualification rankings.

Fukushima and Hirota triumphed here in Denmark back in 2018 and will be looking to repeat their success and assert themselves as the dominant Japanese pair.

Matsumoto Mayu and Nagahara Wakana of Japan compete in the Women's Doubles Final match against Kim So Yeong and Kong Hee Yong of Reoublic of Korea at the Japan Open Badminton Championships (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
Matsumoto Mayu and Nagahara Wakana of Japan compete in the Women's Doubles Final match against Kim So Yeong and Kong Hee Yong of Reoublic of Korea at the Japan Open Badminton Championships (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
2019 Getty Images

Denmark's top men's doubles pair Anders Rasmussen and Kim Astrup will relish the opportunity to end pick up their third World Tour title.

The duo were elevated as the nation's top pair following Mathias Boe's announcement in April that he will be retiring from the game. The London 2012 silver medallist retirement saw his partnership with Olympic hopeful Mads Conrad-Petersen come to an end.

Rasmussen and Astrup will face stiff competition from Rio 2016 bronze medallists Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge but will have home ground advantage.

Meanwhile the mixed doubles will see the resumption of the battle for British bragging rights.

De facto top pair Chris and Gabrielle Adcock could potentially clash with the younger duo of Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith.

Ellis and Smith currently have the advantage over the Adcocks in the Tokyo 2020 qualification standings, and with only one pair from Great Britain likely to qualify for the upcoming Games, a win in Denmark for either pair could be crucial to determining who will play in Japan.

By Olympic Channel