All eyes will be on two unseeded player at the Malaysian Open badminton championships to be held at the Axiata Arena from June 26th-July 1.
Defending champion Lin Dan and Japan’s Kento Momota are both unseeded but could well upstage their opponents for the crown.
Lin Dan has been drawn in the top with two other former champions – local hero Lee Chong Wei and 2015 champion Chen Long.
The trio are in the same half as top seeded Viktor Axelsson of Denmark in the USD700,000 tournament.
Chong Wei hoping for a record 12th crown, comes into the tournament having beaten the top seeded Dane at the Thomas Cup campaign in Bangkok last month.
The duo are expected to meet in the quarter-finals, assuming they are able to overcome some tricky opponents en route.
Lin Dan, who had beaten the Chong Wei in the final last year, will have a much more difficult route to the quarter-final as he will have to dispose of his third seeded teammate Shi Yuqi in the second round.
Chen Long will have for company Indonesian Tommy Sugiarto for company early on.
While the top half looks enticing, the bottom half of the men’s singles draw is equally exciting with Momota ready to pounce.
He has been unbeaten in all competition since winning the Vietnam International Open in March. If his performance at the Thomas Cup was to be used as a yardstick, Momota will be the player to beat in the tournament.
The Japanese making a brilliant comeback to the top level competition, is drawn to meet second seeded Son Wan Ho of Korea in the second round and he plays to current form should make it all the way to the semi-finals where Srikanth Kidambi is expected to be waiting.
If the men’s competition is expected to throw plenty of surprises, the women’s competition will be one of the tightest competitions in the series in recent times. It would be difficult to predict who among the top players in the competition can walk away with the title.
While defending champion Tai Tzu Ying remains a favourite to clinch her third title, she would have to be wary of the array of stars standing in her way.
Second seed Akane Yamaguchi, Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, India’s Sindhu Pusarla and Spaniard Carolina Marin are just some of the on form players, who could derail her title hopes.
For the full draw, click here.