MALAYSIA OPEN: Locals set to shine in absence of stars
THE Malaysia Open grand prix gold tournament may have been deprived of star players but the event will give several local players the opportunity to end their title drought.
Lee Chong Wei, who only plays tomorrow after receiving a bye, is gunning for a fourth consecutive Malaysia Open grand prix gold but the eyes will be on the doubles combinations.
Men's doubles Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong have not won an international title since capturing this tournament in Alor Star last year and this is their best opportunity to return to winning ways before battling for medals in the Olympics.
There are hardly any formidable pairs in the tournament and only Japan's Yishiteru Hirobe-Kenta Kazuno should give them some resistance in the likely semi-final encounter and they are expected to meet compatriots Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah in the final.
V Shem-Khim Wah's only major threats are their Thomas Cup teammates Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong in the second round and the Malaysian No 2 have a clear path after that.
Women's doubles Wong Pei Tty-Chin Eei Hui can look forward to making their last appearance in the Olympics by securing the crown in Johor Baru.
Pei Tty-Eei Hui should pull through to the final as they face a relatively easy path and their only obstacle of winning would be either compatriots Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei or Singapore's Shinta Mulia Sari-Yao Lei in the final.
Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying also stand a good chance of winning their first title this year as there are no top 10 pairs competing in the mixed doubles.
Peng Soon-Liu Ying, who will drop a rung to World No 8 after losing in the quarter-finals of the India Open last week, should regain their No 7 spot if they win the title in Johor Baru.
Malaysia have never won four titles in an international grand prix tournament but it can now be achieved in Johor Baru and the only title which could slip away is the women's singles where Chan Tsz Ka of Hong Kong and Japan's Minatsu Mitani are the early favourites.