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Malaysia Open 2022: High-profile openers on the cards
Date: 6/28/2022 9:00 AM
Published by : Yash Sharma
With the best in the world contesting the Super 750 title, there inevitably are some fantastic matches early on.

Like many other tournaments, the Malaysia Open had to be cancelled in 2020 and 2021 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The soon-to-be Super 1000 event is now back. Upon reflection, two defending champions, greatest-of-all-time Lin Dan and Tokyo men’s doubles runner-up Li Junhui have bid adieu to the sport in the meantime. In contrast, the three-time defending champions Tai Tzu Ying and Zheng Siwei will aim for an unprecedented four-in-a-row.

Can anyone stop Axelsen?
There is a general agreement that Viktor Axelsen was unable to come up with his A-game against Lakshya Sen in the German Open. Barring that, only Lee Zii Jia came close to defeating a nervous Axelsen in Indonesia this year. The two tall and in-form athletes are drawn to face each other in the final. Can the Malaysian come up with the goods on home soil, recreating his victory over the Dane at the All England last year?

However, both face tough tests on the way. The Olympic champion will have to contend with the likes of the world champion Loh Kean Yew and the Indonesian star Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in his quarter. At his best, Ginting arguably has what it takes to beat the world number one. In through, Axelsen can hope for an easier semifinal opponent: Chou Tien Chen or Jonatan Christie. 

While Kento Momota’s ability to regain his best form is being questioned, it must not be forgotten that he had a tremendous record over both the favourites before the unfortunate accident. While he had beaten Axelsen a whopping 13 times in a row, Zii Jia was unable to eke out a single game in six matches. If the Japanese superstar finds his touch, the home favourite will have his hands full in the quarterfinals. 

The all-Chinese battles
The women’s singles category will feature two tantalizing all-Chinese openers. While an in-form He Bingjiao will seek revenge against the Asian champion Wang Zhiyi, Zhang Yiman will hope to thwart the Olympic champion Chen Yufei. In another high-profile match, Pusarla V Sindhu will take on Pornpawee Chochuwong. 

There is a lot on stake for the other top athletes as well. While the Indonesia Open winner Tai Tzu Ying hasn’t been fit enough to win consecutive tournaments in recent times, Akane Yamaguchi has been struggling with her on-court tempo. Likewise, the Rio medallists Carolina Marin and Nozomi Okuhara are hoping to make a strong comeback. 

Overall, it is a tricky draw and a lot will be made clear as the tournament unfolds. 

A title for anyone’s taking
In the 12 BWF World Tour tournaments held in 2022, there have been 11 different men’s doubles winners. Only Fajar Alfian/ Muhammad Rian Ardianto have managed a double. The in-form Liu Yuchen/ Ou Xuan Yi are the hot favourites in the top quarter. The Olympic champions Lee Yang/ Wang Chi Lin left much to be desired in Indonesia with a sub-par performance. 

The bottom half features a repeat of the Indonesia Open semifinal in the first round. Kim Astrup/ Anders Skaarup Rasmussen will try to make things right against Choi Sol Gyu/ Kim Won Ho.

A tough test for the Super 1000 champions
Apriyani Rahayu/ Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti will test the in-form Japanese Nami Matsuyama/ Chiharu Shida in the second round. The winner will perhaps take on the world champions Chen Qingchen/ Jia Yifan. Notably, the Indonesia Open runner-ups Yuki Fukushima/ Sayaka Hirota have withdrawn from the tournament.

Gicquel/ Delrue to face the all-conquering Chinese
The Indonesia Masters runner-ups are expected to make at least the quarterfinals this week. Then, they will perhaps run into the lightning-fast Zheng Siwei/ Huang Yaqiong. On the other hand, the European champions Mark Lamsfuss/ Isabel Lohau face a tough test in the opening match. They will try to get the better of the world champions Dechapol Puavaranukroh/ Sapsiree Taerattanachai. 
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