Top-ranked Tai handed tough draw for badminton showpiece

Bangkok (AFP) –


Badminton's world number one Tai Tzu-ying was handed a tough draw at Thailand's World Tour Finals Tuesday as she was bracketed with home favourite Ratchanok Intanon and Indian star PV Sindhu.

Tai, former world champion Ratchanok and Olympic silver-medallist Sindhu were grouped together with Thailand's Pornpawee Chochuwong for the round-robin stage of the biosecure tournament in Bangkok.

The delayed 2020 season finale, starting Wednesday, is the third behind-closed-doors event in three weeks in the Thai capital as badminton resumes after months of near-inactivity owing to the coronavirus.

Spanish top seed Carolina Marin, seeking a hat-trick of wins in Bangkok, will face South Korean teen sensation An Se-young, Canada's Michelle Li and Russia's Evgeniya Kosetskaya in Group A.

In the men's singles, Denmark's Viktor Axelsen -- who is also unbeaten over the past fortnight -- faces Taiwan's world number two Chou Tien-chen, Indonesia's Anthony Ginting and Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia.

Men's champion Kento Momota tested positive just before the Thai tournaments began, forcing him to withdraw along with the entire Japanese team.

China's team, including women's title-holder Chen Yufei, were unable to travel because of the country's strict coronavirus rules.

Despite the biosecurity arrangements, four people inside the Bangkok "bubble" have tested positive for the coronavirus, including two players who were forced to withdraw.