Less than two weeks remain until the 107th YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships get underway, and excitement has reached fever pitch after the draw was announced on Valentine’s Day.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be previewing each and every event ahead of the first Superseries of the year kicking off.

Next up, it’s the women’s singles, and here are some of the key first round clashes you can look forward to.

Title defence

In what will be her first appearance on court this season, reigning champion Nozomi Okuhara kicks off her campaign in arguably the tie of the round, facing tough opposition in the form of eighth seed Saina Nehwal as she looks to retain the trophy.

All England 2016

The Japanese shuttler has faced her Indian opponent on six previous occasions, winning only once at the World Superseries Finals in 2015.

But with a YONEX All England title already under her belt, Okuhara will be brimming with confidence as she returns to familiar territory in Birmingham.

Progress past Nehwal and reach the quarter-finals, and a possible clash with third seed Sung Ji Hyun lies in wait, a player against whom she has fared well in previous ties.

Juniors reunite

Should Nehwal triumph over Okuhara, there could be an all-Indian tie on the cards in the semi-finals, with fellow superstar PV Sindhu mounting her title challenge against Mette Poulsen in the first round.


Sixth seed Sindhu has faced her Danish opposition just once before, coming way back in 2010 at the World Junior Championships with Poulsen the victor on that occasion.

Times have certainly changed since then, with Sindhu now an Olympic silver medallist and ranked fifth in the world, but having never progressed past the second round at the YONEX All England, she has made no secret of her desire to lift the trophy come March 12.

Reach the quarter-final stage however, and she faces a tough hurdle in her path to the silverware in the form of top seed Tai Tzu Ying, before possibly facing her compatriot in the last four.

European battle

Two-time Olympic champion Carolina Marin clinched her first YONEX All England victory back in 2015, and since then, has gone on to add Olympic, World, European  and a whole host of Superseries crowns to her collection.

All England 2016

First up for the second seed Spaniard is fellow European Line Kjaersfeldt, a player she has defeated in all five of their previous meetings on court.

Make it a sixth victory and Marin could face young Chinese star He Bingjiao in the second round, before an all-seeded tie with Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon in the last eight.

Marin hasn’t won a Superseries title since 2015, but after reaching the semi-final stage in Birmingham last year, she will be hoping 2017 is the year she gets back to winning ways, starting at the Barclaycard Arena.

Elsewhere on court

A YONEX All England title has so far evaded top seed Tai Tzu Ying, who faces Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapol in the first round.

The Taiwanese shuttler has prevailed on all five occasions these two have met previously, while Jindapol fell in the first round in Birmingham last year against eventual champion Okuhara.

First up for third seed Sung Ji Hyun is Indonesia’s Fitriani Fitriani, a player she has never faced on the international circuit, while seventh seed Akane Yamaguchi takes on Xiaoyu Liang in the opening round.