PETALING JAYA: It looks like the long wait has whetted the appetite of the world’s top shuttlers to return in full force in Thailand next month.
All top four players in every event have confirmed their participation for the two Opens in Thailand which will definitely present mouth-watering clashes as the season begins at the Impact Arena in Bangkok.
The tournaments are slated from Jan 12-17 and Jan 19-24. The last time the world’s best gathered was at the All-England in March before the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the tournament calendar.
In the entry list released by the World Badminton Federation (BWF) yesterday, except for the world No. 5 Chen Long, all the top 10 players in the men’s singles will be battling for honours, including Malaysia’s world No. 10 Lee Zii Jia.
All eyes will be on top seed Kento Momota of Japan, as he has waited longer than the others to make a comeback. His last tournament was the Malaysian Masters in January last year. One day after winning the title he was involved in a car accident on his way to the airport.
Before the back-to-back Thai Opens, though, Momota, a two-time world champion, is expected to showcase his capabilities at the Japan national championships in Tokyo this month.
With others in the fray – the most improved Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan; Denmark’s dynamic duo Viktor Axelsen and Anders Antonsen; and Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting and Jonatan Christie, expect every match from the first round to be exhilarating.
The women’s singles will also be equally exciting with the presence of the world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan; China’s Chen Yufei; Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi, Nozomi Okuhara; Thailand Intanon Ratchanok, Spain’s Carolina Marin and India’s P. V. Sindhu battling it out.
The doubles events also promises great stuff as Indonesia’s Marcus Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya and China’s Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan and Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong will be out to live up to their No. 1 status in the men, women and mixed respectively.
Malaysia’s national coaching director Wong Choong Hann is literally rubbing his hands in glee with the prospect of watching top-quality matches.
“The confirmation of the top players for the Thai meets show that the players are looking for a fresh start, ” said Choong Hann.
“The eagerness shown by the players also underline their trust in the ability of the hosts who have promised to run a good show under strict guidelines.
“The tournaments have to go on and players are ready to move on. I believe with all the preparation over the last few months, good quality matches are on the cards.”
On the Malaysian team, Choong Hann said: “It’s unfortunate that Cheam June Wei, Low Hang Yee-Ng Eng Cheong and S. Kisona will not be able to compete as their ranking are quite low but I’m glad Pearly Tan-M-Thinaah made it.”
Malaysia will be represented by Zii Jia (men’s singles); Soniia Cheah (women’s singles); Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi, Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani (men’s doubles); Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean, Vivian Hoo-Yap Cheng Wen, Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah (women’s doubles); and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying, Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing, Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie; Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See (mixed doubles).
(Top five players, including Malaysian entries)Men’s singles: 1. Kento Momota (Jpn), 2. Chou Tien-chen (Tpe), 3. Anders Antonsen (Den), 4. Viktor Axelsen (Den), 5. Anthony Ginting (Ina).
Men’s doubles: 1. Marcus Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya (Ina), 2. Hendra Setiawan-Mohd Ahsan (Ina), 3. Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen (Chn), 4. Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda (Jpn), 5. Hiroyuki Endo-Yuta Watanane (Jpn).
Women’s singles: 1. Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe), 2. Chen Yufei (Chn), 3. Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn), 4. Nozomi Okuhara (Jpn), 5. Ratchanok Intanon (Tha).
Women’s doubles: 1. Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan (Chn), 2. Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota (Jpn), 3. Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara (Jpn), 4. Lee So-hee-Shin Seung-chan (Kor), 5. Kim So-yeong-Kong Hee-yong (Kor).
Mixed doubles: 1. Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong (Chn), 2. Wang Yilyu-Huang Dong-ping (Chn), 3. Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha), 4. Praveen Jordan-Melati Daeva Oktavianti (Ina), 5. Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino (Jpn).
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