Photo credit: Badmintonthaitoday.com
Malaysia Masters is starting now and there is USD 350,000 in the pot to share between the most successful players of the week. The world number one in four of the five categories will be present in Kuala Lumpur.
The Minions obviously top the draw in men’s double. Marcus Gideon Fernaldi and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo had an exceptional 2018 and it will be interesting to see if they can continue their streak into 2019.
They have two fairly easy matches in the first two rounds; first they are up against a pair from the qualification. In second round they will face the winner of two pairs, who have been promoted from the qualification.
Silver medalists from the World Championships last year, Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda, are seeded 2nd in Malaysia. They have the pleasure of the runners-up from Sunday’s finals in Thailand, Lu Ching Yao and Yang Po Han, in first round.
The winners of Thailand Masters, Goh V. Shem and Tan Wee Kiong, are unseeded this week. Should they and the Indonesians Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan win their first round matches, the two experienced and excellent pairs are facing each other in second round.
Japan rules women’s doubles
The two top pairs of the women’s double world ranking, Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota and Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi, are seeded 1 and 2 in Kuala Lumpur. The 3rd seeded are also from Japan and only as 4th seeded we see other nationalities; Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu from Indonesia.
Puttita Supajirakul and Sapsiree Taerattanachai who won on home soil at the Thailand Masters have been promoted from the qualification this week. They could run into the 4th seeded Indonesians if both pairs survive first round in Malaysia.
New partner for Tontowi
In mixed double the host nation has no less than six and a half pair represented – the half pair is Mohamad Arif Ab Latif Arif who plays with an Indonesian partner in the qualification. The Thailand Masters winners, Chen Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying, are Malaysia’s best card this week. They are seeded 3 and have opponents from the qualification in first round.
The top seeded pair is Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino who will play the Irish Magee siblings, Sam and Chloe, in their first match. Sapsiree Taerattanachai will have another busy week as she plays two categories; she is seeded 2nd with Dechapol Puavaranukroh this week and they have a pair, which is promoted from the qualification in first round.
Finally one interesting entry is Tontowi Ahmad who has played with Liliyana Natsir for many years now. As you are surely already aware of, Natsir ends her active career at Indonesia Masters next week.
Tontowi Ahmad will continue playing and this time he partners up with Debby Susanto. The two have no official ranking and will play 8th seeded Brits, Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith, in their first match in the hunt for glory.