THEY are young and dangerous. All of them have beaten top stars on their good days. They are hungry for success and are equally skilful.
They, however, lack consistency and experience but no one can take them lightly. All of them have experienced injuries at one point in their careers in the last one year but they are back at their best.
Will they steal the limelight at the World Championships in Copenhagen and spoil the party of the regular faces led by Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in the men’s singles event?
Kodai Naraoka (Jpn)
World ranking: 4
In just a year, Naraoka has become Japan’s No. 1 player. He has not won any Open title this year but thanks to his consistent showing, he is now ranked fourth in the world. A determined player, crafty and will fight for every point. His stamina is extraordinary but injuries to his knee and hip last year stalled his progress a bit. He’s back at his best and is seen as an able replacement for Kento Momota.
Kunlavut Vitidsarn (Tha)
World ranking: 3
The three-time world junior champion from Thailand is one of the few players who has beaten the dominant Viktor Axelsen of Denmark this year. He is aggressive, sharp and plays smart. He went on to win the Indian Open and Thailand Open titles this year. A shoulder injury slowed him down this year but he is back to make life difficult for others.
Lakshya Sen (Ind)
World ranking: 11
Lakshya was doing great but struggled for eight months last year before making a comeback from a nose surgery. His condition had made it hard for him to breathe while training but he showed that he was back in business after reaching the semi-finals