Badminton's marquee team events, Thomas Cup for men and Uber Cup for women, will be played this month.
When and where are the 2022 Thomas and Uber Cup Finals being held?
The 2022 Thomas and Uber Cup Finals are being held in Bangkok, Thailand from May 8 to 15.
Thomas Cup and Uber Cup Groups
India is placed in Group C in Thomas Cup and Group D in Uber Cup. Here is a look at all the groups:
Group A features defending champion Indonesia, host Thailand along with Korea and Singapore. Indonesian squad with in-form singles player Jonatan Christie and strong doubles pairs of Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan, Fajar Alfian-Muhammad Rian Ardianto and Muhammad Shohibul Fikri-Bagas Maulana will be the favourite to top the group. However, second singles might be a cause of concern due to inconsistency of Anthony Ginting and Shesar Hiren Rhustavito. Korea and Thailand will battle it out for the second and final qualifying spot for the knockouts with the former slightly more well-rounded. For the host, a lot will depend on its ace singles shuttler Kunlavut Vitidsarn. Singapore, despite having reigning men's singles world champion Loh Kean Yew, will be the underdog.
READ: New Zealand pulls out of Thomas Cup finals
Group B consists of last year's runner-up China, Denmark, France and Algeria. Chinese squad - Li Shi Feng, Lu Guang Zu, Zhao Jun Peng and Weng Hong Yang in singles; Liu Yu Chen-Liu Cheng andf He Ji Ting-Tan Qiang in doubles - and Danish squad featuring the likes of Viktor Axelsen, Anders Antonsen, Rasmus Gemke and Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus will be expected to qualify for the knockouts despite a young and talented French contingent capable of causing a few upsets.
Group C comprises India, Chinese Taipei, Germany and Canada. For the first time in a while, India arrives at the event with a stellar squad covering all bases. Singles will see the participation of world championships bronze medallist Lakshya Sen, world championships silver medallist Kidambi Srikanth, Swiss Open finalist HS Prannoy and Priyanshu Rajawat. Doubles will have top-ranked Indian pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty along with M.R. Arjun-Dhruv Kapila and Krishna Prasad-Vishnuvardhan Goud. Priyanshu and the duos Arjun-Kapila and Krishna-Vishnuvardhan made it to the team after coming on top at the Badminton Association of India (BAI) National selection trials held in New Delhi between April 15 and 20. Chinese Taipei has a pretty decent squad with Chou Tien Chen and Wang Tzu Wei in singles and Lee Yang-Wang Chi-Lin and Lu Ching Yao-Yang Po Han in doubles. Barring any major upset, India and Chinese Taipei will progress to the knockout round.
Final group of this year's Thomas Cup initially had Asian powerhouses Japan and Malaysian along with England and New Zealand. However, the Kiwis pulled out of the event on Wednesday after a few team members tested positive for COVID-19. Their spot has been taken by the United Stated of America. While Japan and Malaysia will be expected to make it to the elimination round, it will be interesting to see which team tops the group as both have star players in Kento Momota and Lee Zii Jia.
Group A of this year's Uber Cup has 2018 champion Japan, Indonesia, France and Germany. Top-seeded Japanese team will have reigning world champion Akane Yamaguchi participating but the other singles matches might be a cause of concern with Nozomi Okuhara's fitness issues. Therefore, a lot will depend on the seasoned doubles pairs of Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota and Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara.
Group B could be deemed as the 'Group of death' at this year's Uber Cup with defending champion China, Chinese Taipei, Spain and Australia in it. China, led by Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei and recently crowned Asian champion Wang Zhi Yi in singles and Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan and Du Yue/Li Wen Mei in doubles, will be expected to top the group. Fight for a second spot possibly between Chinese Taipei and Spain will see a much-awaited match-up between Tai Tzu Ying and Carolina Marin, two of the best shuttlers in recent years.
Group C comprises Thailand, Denmark, Malaysia and Egypt. Thailand has a strong singles line-up featuring Ratchanok Intanon, Busanan Ongbamrungphan, Pornpawee Chochuwong and Supanida Katethong while pairs Rawinda Prajongjai/Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Benyapa Aimsaard/Nuntakarn Aimsaard will take care of the doubles. Although the Thai team will be the favourite to top the group, it might face a stiff challenge from the Danish team which has the likes of Mia Blichfeldt and Line Christophersen in singles and Sara Thygesen/Maiken Fruergaard in doubles.
Final group has the P V Sindhu-led Indian team paired up with Korea, Canada and USA. Korean team with An Seyoung in singles and Lee So-hee/Shin Seung-chan in doubles should easily progress to the knockout stage as the group winner. For second place, Canada is set to pose a tough challenge against India. Canada has the services of Michelle Li, Zhang Wen Yu and Rachel Chan in singles and Rachel Honderich/Kristen Tsai and Catherine Choi/Josephine Wu in doubles making it a tricky squad. As far as India is concerned, apart from Sindhu, the squad is largely inexperienced with Aakarshi Kashyap, Ashmita Chaliha and teenager Unnati Hooda in singles. Since London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal did not participate in the trials last month, she was not considered for selection. Doubles will be a cause of concern for the Indian team with Ashwini Ponnappa/N Sikki Reddy pair withdrawing due to Reddy's injury. The trouble further increased with All England Open semifinalist Gayatri Gopichand also pulling out of the event due to an injury leaving Treesa Jolly partnerless.
READ: Gayatri Gopichand to miss Uber Cup due to hip strain
What is the history of Thomas Cup?
Thomas Cup is the prize awarded for World Men's Team Championships. The trophy was named after Sir George Thomas, Founder-President of the International Badminton Federation (now BWF), who wanted to have the sport its own version of the Davis Cup in tennis.
Initially, Thomas Cup was started as a tournament held once every three years. First tournament was held in 1949 in Preston, England featuring nations divided into four zone: Pan American, Asian (East and West), Australasian and European. The format consisted of best-of-nine ties: five singles and four doubles. Mayalsia, led by Lim Chuan Geok, beat Denmark 8-1 in the final to win the inaugural Thomas Cup.
In 1984, two changes were brought which have been there ever since. Thomas Cup was to be held simultaneously with women's Uber Cup every two years and the ties would be played over best-of-five.
Indonesia has the most number of Thomas Cup titles (15) with China (10) at second.
What is India's best performance at Thomas Cup?
India has reached semifinals of the Thomas Cup on three occasions - 1952, 1955 and 1979.
What is the history of Uber Cup?
Proposed in 1950 by England’s great pre-War player Betty Uber and supported by New Zealand’s Nancy Fleming, the first Uber Cup was eventually held in 1957 in Lancashire, England with USA beating Denmark 6-1 in the final. The format initially consisted of three singles and four doubles matches in a tie before being changed to the present-day best-of-five format in 1984.
China is the most successful team with 15 Uber Cup titles. Japan is at second with six titles.
What is India's best performance at Uber Cup?
India has twice reached the semifinals of Uber Cup in 2014 and 2016.
Here is India's schedule of the 2022 Thomas and Uber Cup Finals:-
Here is India's squad for the 2022 Thomas and Uber Cup Finals
Where to watch Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in India?