The upcoming Swiss Open, which begins on Tuesday, presents the Malaysian contingent with a perfect opportunity to stamp their mark on the 2021 BWF World Tour season opener with a title, in the absence of several big names.
Without the participation of China, Japan and many top South Korean names, many of the national shuttlers are seeded among the top two in their respective events and have a great chance of going the distance.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) have remained coy of their chances, stating if they were to return with at least one title, it “would be a good start”.
But in fact, the national shuttlers have already got started and must take it upon themselves to produce the goods in Basel.
With the Swiss Open offering qualifying points to the Olympics, it also presents a great opportunity for many of them to seal their spots to Tokyo.
Goh Liu Ying, who is seeded top alongside Chan Peng Soon in the mixed doubles, told Stadium Astro they “must do well”.
“We are seeded top and it is important we do well, especially seeing that the Swiss Open offers Olympics points,” she said.
The world number seven pair were among the disappointments at the recent Bangkok tour and are expected to bounce back.
In the men’s doubles, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik are top seeds, while Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong are third in a field comprising mainly European pairs.
Without the in-form Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin who beat both pairs at the Thailand Open finals, there is renewed optimism that the Malaysians can achieve results in Switzerland.
Others who are in the fray include Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi, Low Hang Yee-Ng Eng Cheong and Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin.
Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean are seeded second in the women’s doubles, and could face team-mates Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah in the semis.
Without the Japanese and Koreans, the Malaysians are expected to progress far.
Soniia Cheah won’t be given much hope in the women’s singles with Carolina Marin, P.V. Sindhu and Sung Ji-hyun in the mix, but the shuttler, who was dropped by BAM, will be out to prove a point.
Armed with new sponsors, Cheah will hope to silence her critics when she takes on Germany’s Yvonne Li in the first round.
Of all the shuttlers, Lee Zii Jia carries the biggest hopes of the nation as the country’s premiere men’s singles shuttler.
A forgettable outing in Bangkok is expected to be taken as a learning curve for the young Malaysian to flex his muscles against a less competitive field missing big names like Kento Momota, Chen Long and Anders Antonsen.
Lee is seeded second and will play South Korea’s Heo Kwang-hee in the first round.