Lee Zii Jia is set to face two Indian shuttlers in H.S.Prannoy and Sameer Verma in the back-to-back Thailand Opens scheduled to take place in Bangkok next month as the badminton season closes in on a much awaited restart.
The Malaysian singles shuttler is hoping to pick up from where he left off in March since making the semi-finals of the All-England Championships.
Lee will be hoping to cement his position in the world top 10 with good showings in both the tournaments that will be played under strict protocols and supervision.
First up is the Yonex Thailand Open (January 12th-17th).
After Prannoy, the Malaysian’s tough test could come in the quarter-finals against world number two Chou Tien-chen.
Liew Daren, who made it to the main draw, is up against world number three and recent Denmark Open champion Anders Antonsen in the first round.
All eyes will be on world number one and top seed Kento Momota, who marked his return to competitive action by winning the All-Japan Championship earlier this week.
The triumph marked Momota's second title in consecutive tournaments this year. He had also won the Malaysian Masters in January before a car accident ruled him out for the season.
The Japanese begins the Yonex Thailand Open against home shuttler Khosit Phetpradab, and faces national team-mate Koki Watanabe at the Toyota Thailand Open (January 19th-24th).
The rest of the Malaysian contingent, meanwhile, have mixed fortunes at the first Thailand Open.
Women’s singles shuttler Soniia Cheah take on South Korean prodigy An Se-young in the first round.
In the men’s doubles, world number nine Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik go up against fellow Malaysians Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong in the first tournament.
National pair Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin play South Koreans Ko Sung-hyun-Shin Baek-cheol, while Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi take on Indians M.R.Arjun-Dhruv Kapila.
World number seven pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying are scheduled for a meeting with Indonesians Adnan Maulana-Mychelle Crhystine in the opening round, while Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai start off against Ronan Labar-Anne Tran from France.
But young pair Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See face top seed Thais Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai, while Tan Kian Peng-Lai Pei Jing take on third seed Japanese Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino.
The Thailand Opens, however, will lose some of its lustre following the withdrawal of the Chinese contingent.