Women’s Singles is recognised for its sheer diversity of nationalities and playing styles that makes this category particularly exciting. While those in the top ten of the Race to Tokyo rankings have stellar records and will be favoured to do well in Tokyo, there are a few players just beyond who are capable of giving the bigger names a run for their money.
*Note: The official list of qualifiers to Tokyo 2020 will be notified in due course.
Zhang and Canada’s Michelle Li have been icons as independent players on the circuit, managing for the most part without a support team of their own while travelling. Zhang has achieved enviable results given the challenges, and what might make the difference for her in Tokyo is that she has been training at the Centre of Excellence in Denmark, for previously she had to make do with shorter stints with clubs in different places. With her ability and drive never in question, and with plenty of experience, the USA player will be hard to beat.
The Thai edged ahead of compatriot Pornpawee Chochuwong in the Race to Tokyo. Ongbamrungphan doesn’t have a particularly striking on-court style in the manner of her better-known compatriot Ratchanok Intanon, but she compensates with sheer physical energy and her indefatigable attitude. A game trier all her career and a consistent performer, she is quite capable of seizing any opportunity that comes her way in Tokyo.
The Dane has acquired an edge in her game lately; her strength training has helped her add new zip to her attacking game. This was evident in her impressive win over Pusarla V Sindhu in the opening match of the Asian Leg at the YONEX Thailand Open 2021; she went on to make the semifinals. Having consistently troubled the top names, Blichfeldt can thrive in Tokyo, particularly with the pressure on the more favoured stars.
Has rare talent as a strokeplayer, but the results haven’t mirrored her talent. She has struggled to push on after her spectacular early successes, but as she’s only 21, time is on her side. Tunjung’s talent does compensate for the lesser physical intensity compared to her top rivals; whether Tokyo will be her big moment of reckoning remains to be seen.
The Scot didn’t make much of an impact in her last full season in 2019 on the HSBC BWF World Tour, although she did make the finals of the European Games, the Spanish International Challenge and the Orleans Masters (Super 100). Her form picked up in 2020; at the SaarLorLux Open she beat Carolina Marin in the semifinals and Yvonne Li in the final, for her most memorable title win in recent years. With her experience and her unorthodox style of play, not to mention her recent successes, she will have the wind in her sails as she heads to Tokyo.