LIEW Daren and Hafiz Hashim are up against formidable opponents in the India Open and must play above themselves to advance in New Delhi today.
Daren faces Indonesia's Tommy Sugiarto while Hafiz will be up against Japan No 3 Kazushi Yamada. Victory for both players will put them in good stead for the Thomas Cup Finals on May 20-27 where Tommy and Kazushi will also feature for their countries.
It will be a good test for Hafiz as he is down to play Kazushi in the third singles should Malaysia meet Japan in the Thomas Cup.
Meanwhile, Lee Chong Wei, for his part, is not expected to be tested in his first round match.
Chong Wei, competing in his first tournament since suffering a shoulder injury in the All England last month, opens against Hsueh Hsuan Yi of Taiwan and should pull through without much trouble.
Chong Wei Feng, who is in the running for the reserve singles slot in the Thomas Cup squad, can boost his chances if he clears the first round where he will either play Thailand's Suppanyu Avihingsanon or Sai Praneet of India.
Men's doubles Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong should clear their first hurdle against Chris Adcock-Andrew Ellis of England while Goh V Shem-Lim KhimWah are also expected to have it easy against India's Gopi Raju-Shivam Sharma.
Women's doubles Wong Pei Tty-Chin Eei Hui must survive a tricky opening match against Nina Vislova-Valerie Sorokina of Russia to keep alive their hopes of clinching an Olympics berth.
Women's singles Tee Jing Yi also stands a chance of earning a surprise spot after she was promoted to the main draw due to several withdrawals. She should clinch an Olympic berth by beating Neha Pandit of India in the first round.
In the mixed doubles, Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying also face a tough first round encounter against Yoo Yeon Seong-Jan Ye Na of South Korea.