BWF World Championships 2023 Semi-finals weekend preview

BWF World Championships 2023 Semi-finals weekend preview

As the BWF World Championships 2023 reaches the crunch semi-final stage, Central Sports’ Wai Lim runs down the contenders and picks our winners.
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Kunlavut Vitidsarn

Men's Singles
Kunlavut Vitidsarn v Prannoy HS
Vitidsarn's selection of the Astrox 88D Pro racket, combined with BG80 strings, provides a blend of power and precision. His chances are favourable, but he'll need to overcome strong competition. Holds a 2023 win 28/9 loss ratio and is the current Thailand and India Open champion. Came second in last year’s World Championships, so keen to go one step further this year.

Meanwhile, Prannoy HS is an accomplished Indian badminton player known for his powerful smashes, agility on court, and capability to upset top-seeded players in major tournaments.

Our winner: Kunlavut. Despite Prannoy defeating the great Dane Viktor Axelsen yesterday I think it’s taken a bit too much out of him and Kunlavut will have that extra bounce now it’s not Axelsen on the other side of the court.

Kodai Naraoka v Anders Antonsen
With the Astrox 99 Pro racket and Exbolt 65 strings, Naraoka's game focuses on control and precision. His chances are promising, and shows the potential to be a dark horse. Meanwhile, Antonsen's Auraspeed 90K racket, along with VBS-63 strings, accentuates his versatile playing style. He has a solid chance and should not be underestimated. It’s a home tournament, which would favour Anders but he’s had a rather patchy few years.

Our winner: Despite Anders being at home and his great form so far, we think it’s just one step too far and Kodai’s energy is just going to be one hurdle too many.

Our title winner: We’re Going with Kunlavut, it’s time to make himself a hero back in Thailand and bring home the World Championship title.

An Se Young

Women’s Singles
An Se Young v Chen Yu Fei
An Se Young's equipment emphasises agility and precision (Astrox 77 Pro and BG80 strings). South Korean-born Young stands as one of the most promising talents in the world of badminton and this could well be the tournament she finally realises all that potential.
Chen Yu Fei's style emphasizes control and finesse, and her equipment choice (Astrox 77 Pro and Exbolt 63 strinigs) reflects this. Undoubtedly one of the best players in the world, she’s fast, she’s fiery and she’s cool – took the Indonesian Open 2023 including Indonesia Open, but has already lost to An Se Young in Malaysia, Yonex All England, Dubai and Korea this year.

Our winner: China are notorious for bringing home golds in major events but An Se Young is looking unbeatable and already has those four wins over Chen Yu Fei this year so we’re going An Se Young.

Akane Yamaguchi v Carolina Marin
Yamaguchi, known for her swift footwork and aggressive play, is equipped with tools (Astrox 100zz Kurenai and Exbolt 63 strings) made for her power and agility. She’s the reigning Canada Open, Malaysian Masters, German Open and Malaysian Open champion.
Marin’s dynamic playstyle and aggressive nature are well supported by her equipment (Nanoflare 1000z and Aerobite strings), enhancing her speed and offensive prowess. As a former champion, her chances are strong. Another left hander, she was untouchable and unbreakable for a long period of time and has won three golds at the World Championships, and six European crowns.

Our winner: Akane Yamaguchi, mainly because we want to watch another epic Yamaguchi vs An Se Young final. Since Marin’s ACL injury, her form has been patchy and we’re not sure she has it in her to keep up with the extreme levels she demands from herself.

Our title winner: An Se Young

Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi YikMen’s Doubles
Wang Chang & Liang Wei Keng v Kim Astrup & Anders Skaarup Rasumussen
With both Chinese players opting for Astrox 77 Pro and Astrox 100zz Kurenai rackets and Power Cushion Comfort Z3 shoes, they bring a combination of power and comfort to the court. Thailand and Indian Open winners, it’s been title or nothing for them this year.

Meanwhile, the Danish 11th seeds stunned Malaysia’s Ong Yew Sin & Teo Ee Yi and world number two Rankireddy and Shetty on the way to the semi-finals, cheered on by their home fans.

Our winners: Wang Chang & Liang Wei Keng. China are out of the men’s singles, have an outside chance in the women’s, but in doubles they’re guaranteed finalists in both men’s and women’s, and this is going to be one of potentially three golds.

Aaron Chia & Soh Wooi Yik v Kang Min Hyuk & Seo Seung Jae
Chia's Arcsaber 11 Pro and Yik's Astrox 88D Pro along with Exbolt 65 and BG65TI strings offer a balanced approach. They have been consistent performers, and their well-chosen equipment could enhance their chances. The current champions, made history last year, but can they defend their title?

Kang Min Hyuk & Seo Seung Jae use Astrox 88D Pro and Nanoflare 700 rackets respectively, both with BG80 strings, and this combination has proven to be adaptable and resilient. Their diverse skill set and equipment may pay dividends. They won the Australian Open just a few weeks ago to warm up for this, so are in hot form.

Our winners: Hard not to pick Aaron Chia & Soh Wooi Yik. They’ve been in insane form this week, pulling off victories in tricky matches despite their favourable seeding, they beat the olympic champions and China’s incredible Liu Yu Chen on their way here, but interestingly enough these two pairs have never played each other. 

Our title winners: Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik. We hope we haven’t cursed them, Aaron visited Central Sports last March so we’re big fans. They’re Malaysian heroes and we’d just love to see the celebrations if they can defend the title.

Chen Qing Chen & Jia Yi Fan

Women's Doubles
Chen Qing Chen & Jia Yi Fan v Zhang Shu Xian & Zheng Yu
Chen's Astrox 100zz and Jia's Nanoflare 800 rackets complement their attacking style. Paired with Power Cushion 65Z3 shoes and Aerobite/BG80 strings, this duo are absolutely on fire! This year they have three title wins already and are looking good to add a fourth here.

Zhang Shu Xian & Zheng Yu (100zz and 88s pro) are a surprise package in the semi-finals, coming through an epic victory against Pearly & Thinaah yesterday coming from a game down and 11-5 down . They’re going to be ones to watch in the future but I think today’s going to be the end of the road.

Our winner: Impossible to look beyond Chen Qing Chen & Jia Yi Fan – just incredible. 

Kong Hee Yong & Kim So Yeong v Apriyani Rahayu & Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti
Both using Astrox 88D rackets and Eclipsion Z shoes, Kong and Kim are ready to take on the world (and win) with their powerful and aggressive play. Aerobite and 66 Ultimax strings provide an additional edge. Silver last year at the World Championships and definitely out for revenge, they’re going to be had to beat.

Apriyani Rahayu and Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti are something of a surprise package in getting to the semi-finals, one half of the pairing is the current olympic champion, but since her partner the ever loved Greysia Polli retired she’s really struggled to reignite that winning form. 

Our winner: We’re going for Rahayu & Ramadhanti. Again maybe we’re being superstitious because they’re the last Indos standing and surely they have to have a representative on finals day.

Our winner: Chen Qing Chen & Jia Yi Fan. An unstoppable force. 

Zheng Si Wei & Huang Ya Qiong

Mixed Doubles
Zheng Si Wei & Huang Ya Qiong v Jiang Zhen Bang & Wei Ya Xin
Zheng, armed with an Arcsaber 11 Pro, and Huang with an Astrox 77 Pro, form a balanced team. Their rackets are known for control and precision, and their string choices (BG65 and BG66 - Ultimax) add extra power to their shots. Zheng Si Wei is just a perfect mixed doubles player and Huang Ya Qiong just oozes class there isn’t much that can stop them. Three-time world champions, silver medal at the Olympics, they’ve won so much, this feels like a straight-forwasd semi.

At 23 and 22, Jiang (Astrox 77 pro) and Wei (Arcsaber 7 pro) are one of the youngest pairs in world badminton. They have the skills and not dropped a game all week but how will they fare when facing their heroes?

Our winner: Zheng Si Wei & Huang Ya Qiong. They just play a different game, so good to watch, perfectly in sync and beautifully thought out.

Yuta Watanabe & Arisa Higashino v Seo Seung Jae & Chae Yu Jung
Watanabe wields a Li-Ning Aeronaut 9000C, while Higashino utilises a Yonex Nanoflare 700. Higashino's Power Cushion 65z3 shoes ensure mobility. The pair's varied equipment choices show their adaptability in playing styles. Watanabe is a bit of a badminton legend, but has never won a gold medal at the world championships! Could he finally do it?

Both using the Nanoflare 700 rackets, Seo and Chae are a balanced pair with focus on speed and control. Their choice of BG80 strings adds to their offensive capabilities. With Seo playing both the doubles and mixed this week brings a stern test to his physical capabilities. With no titles this year, they’re a wild shout but as world No.5 their consistency is key.

Our winner: Yuta Watanabe & Arisa Higashino – these two should have just a bit too much class for the Koreans today.

Our title winners: Zheng Si Wei & Huang Ya Qiong – because China do not play major events for silvers! 

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