None of the shuttlers won any major tournaments this year, with only men’s doubles Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik coming close with a runner-up finish at the All England back in March.
With qualification to the Tokyo Olympics set to intensify ahead of the cut-off in April, the race is on to collect as many points early in the season.
The first tournament on the World Tour circuit also gives the locals a chance to turn home support to their advantage, with many set to turn up to catch the likes of Kento Momota, Lin Dan, P.V.Sindhu and Ratchanok Intaton.
10 Malaysians made the semi-finals in the 2019 edition, but emulating that would be challenging given some tough draws this time around.
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The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director Wong Choon Hann feels the same, but he hopes to see some fight from his charges.
“We hope they will be back fresh from their break and perform well. It’s quite a task to get 10 of our semi-finalists again, but it will be interesting to see how they fare.
“Lee Zii Jia has a tough assignment against Anders Antonsen, while it is the same in the men’s doubles too. But I would like to see them win the 50-50 battles.
“That is where they test their perseverance and desire to win,” said Wong.
Lee faces world number four Antonsen in the opening round, aiming to overturn two consecutive losses to the talented Dane at the Indonesia Masters and Indonesia Open this year.
In the men’s doubles, the winners of Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong and Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik take on world number one and defending champions Marcus Fernandi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in the second round.
Soniia Cheah, seeking an upturn in fortunes to make the Olympics grade, has to come through the qualifiers and plays France’s Qi Xuefei.
Both Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean and Vivian Hoo-Yap Cheng Wen have to duel with Chinese pairs in the opening round of the women’s doubles category.
In the mixed doubles, Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai have Chinese pair He Ji Ting-Du Yue for company, while Tan Kian Ming-Lai Pei Jing play Indonesia’s Ricky Karandusuwardi- Pita Zebadiah Bernadet.
As for Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying, they await their opponents from the qualifying stage.