Malaysian fans have every reason to be excited next year, as world number one Kento Momota will be in Kuala Lumpur to claim his first title of 2020 at the Malaysia Masters.
Taking place from January 7 to 12, the Super 500 tournament will be the first tournament on the Badminton World Federation (BWF) calendar, and all the world class names have confirmed their entry as they aim to begin the Olympic year on the right foot.
While the local shuttlers will get plenty of support, all eyes are certain to be on Momota, who is singlehandedly dominating the men’s singles.
It was in Malaysia three years ago where Momota received a suspension for gambling, and swiftly pulled out of the 2016 Malaysia Open despite winning his opening game.
The Japanese returned home to shame and ridicule, and was banned for over a year.
The Japan Badminton Association no tolerance approach towards gambling also meant Momota missed the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janerio.
But Momota has more than made up for lost time, and 2019 turned out to be his most successful year with 11 titles amassed.
Momota's feat meant he becomes the only male shuttler to win the most titles in a badminton season, surpassing Lee Chong Wei who clinched 10 titles in 2010.
Having lost just six times in 73 matches in 2019, the 25-year-old will be the man to dethrone.
He will face India’s P.Kashyap in the first round, and could face either Chinese great Lin Dan or his recent nemesis Anthony Ginting of Indonesia in the quarterfinals.
The southpaw came from a game down to beat Ginting 17-21, 21-17, 21-14 to win the season finale World Tour Finals last week.
Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia meanwhile faces a tough test in the opening round as he will take on Denmark’s third seed Anders Antonsen.
The lanky shuttler is buoyed having won gold at the recent SEA Games, and with the backing of the home fans, should be able to beat the young Dane.
There are also tough draws for the Malaysians in the men’s doubles, as the winner between Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong and Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik will face defending champions Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo.