Top seed Viktor Axelsen drawn to face Liew in 2022 opener as all reigning champions head to Japan to defend their World Championship crowns

Following his first round exit at the previous edition, the Olympic champion from Denmark will look to reclaim the men's singles title at the BWF World Championships, while other top names receive byes in the first round.

By Sanjeev Palar
Picture by Jabatan Penerangan Malaysia

Viktor Axelsen tops the men's singles seeding following the draw for badminton's BWF World Championships 2022 which runs form 22 to 28 August in Tokyo, Japan.

The draw on Wednesday (10 August) saw the Danish world number one pitted against Malaysia's Daren Liew, who is ranked 29th in the world. Axelsen has won the last five encounters against Liew, the most recent being at the 2021 Thailand Open.

Axelsen, who won gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 2021, will be looking to make amends for his first round exit at the previous edition of the Worlds, where he fell in the first round to Singapore's Loh Kean Yew, who went on to clinch the title.

The field in Tokyo will be tight will all five reigning champions - Loh Kean Yew, Yamaguchi Akane in women's singles, men's doubles pair of Hoki Takuro and Kobayashi Yugo, women's doubles pairing of Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan, as well as mixed doubles duo of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai, all back to defend their respective titles.

Japan's Momota Kento in action at the Malaysia Open 2022
Picture by Jabatan Penerangan Malaysia

Axelsen headlines as Momoto carries home hopes in men's singles

The men's singles competition will see 24 of the top 25 players in the world slugging it out for the title.

Axelsen, who clinched the crown in 2017, will certainly want to add a second title to his name. He is currently in the form of his career, having lost only one match on court during the tour this season, albeit conceding two walkovers.

The 28-year-old has been near invincible, clinching four World Tour titles, two of them at Super 1000 events. If games live up to the form book then he will likely face Indonesia's Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in the quarter-finals, or even China's Shi Yuqi, who returns for his first international tournament this year. Ginting will open his campaign against Brazil's Ygor Coelho while Shi will face Ade Resky Dwicahyo from Azerbaijan.

The home crowd will definitely be hoping that Momota Kento will be able to regain the form that saw him clinch back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019. The Japanese shuttler's level of play has been inconsistent since returning from an eye injury he sustained in a road accident prior to the pandemic. As the second seed, Momota plays Mexico's Lino Munoz in the first round.

Lee Zii Jia is the tournament's fifth seed and begins his hopes for a maiden world title against France's Brice Leverdez who is ranked world No. 40. Despite the advantage in the rankings, the Malaysian will certainly remember that Leverdez pulled off a shock win again the then second seed Lee Chong Wei in the 2017 edition of the championships.

India's men's singles title hopes will rest on four players who have qualified for the tournament, led by ninth seed Lakshya Sen, twelfth seed Kidambi Srikanth, as well as Sai Praneeth, and H.S. Prannoy.

Sen will kick off his second world title campaign against Denmark's Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus, while Kidambi will play Nhat Nguyen from Ireland. Sai has fourth seed Chou Tien Chen as his opening match while Prannoy takes on Poland's Luka Wraber.

Reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew takes on Spanish veteran Pablo Albian in his opening round match.

Yamaguchi Akane in action at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Yamaguchi on form as Marin returns in search of a fourth women's singles world title

The women's singles sees world number one, Yamaguchi Akane top the seedings as she looks to clinch back-to-back titles.

It will be the Japanese player's second opportunity to shine on home soil, following her disappointing quarter-final exit at her home Olympic Games. The 25-year-old, along with all the other 16 seeded players, will enjoy a bye in the opening round, but she will not have an easy route to the final after being placed in the same half of the draw as three-time world champion Carolina Marin.

The Spaniard is seeded fifth. Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallist Marin missed the chance to compete at the last edition, which was held in her home city of Huelva, due to injury. Barring any major upsets, a quarter-finals clash between the reigning world champ and the three-time world champion is looks very likely.

Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying is seeded second and will likely face her first real test in the third round against Mia Blichfeldt and could even face another home favourite in the form of Okuhara Nozomi, seeded sixth, in the quarter-finals.

Tokyo Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei is seeded fourth and will lead China's charge to reclaim the women's singles title they last won in 2011.

South Korea's An Seyoung and PV Sindhu of India are seeded third and seventh respectively and the two could meet in the quarter-finals should they play to their potential.

Marcus Fernaldi Gideon (L) and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo are the top men's doubles seeds for the BWF World Championships 2022 
Picture by 2019 Getty Images

Doubles fans set for some delightful clashes

With all the top sixteen seeded pairs across all three doubles categories enjoying a bye in the opening round, we'll likely have to wait until the third round before we see some big clashes amongst the top pairs that will be in Tokyo.

The men's doubles top seeds of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo from Indonesia will be out to end their World Championship medal drought and are on the opposite ends of the draw with defending world champions Hoki Takuro and Kobayashi Yugo seeded second.

Reigning Olympic champions Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin could face Tokyo 2020 bronze medallists Aaron Chia and Soh Woo Yik in the quarter-finals.

India's Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who recently clinched Commonwealth Games gold together, are seeded seventh and will first be tested when they will likely play Malaysia's Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong from Malaysia in the third round.

Women's doubles sees the reigning champions Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan as the top seeds with Fukushima Yuki and Hirota Sayaka carrying Japan's hopes as the second seeds.

The younger Japanese pairing of Matsuyama Nami and Shida Chiharu, are well and truly in contention for the title and their likely clash against Malaysia's Commonwealth Gold medallists Pearly Tan and Thinaah Muralitharan in the third round will be one to watch for sure.

Two-time world champions Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong from China are the top seeds for the the mixed doubles tournament. On the opposite end of the draws are the reigning world champions Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai.

Japan's Watanabe Yuta and Higashino Arisa who clinched bronze at Tokyo 2020 in 2021, will hope to be higher up on the podium this time around. The third seeds will have to play the Chinese top seeds should they both make the semi-finals.

You can view the full draw here or watch it as it happened here:

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