KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 – Some of the big names in badminton will not be there but it does not make it any easier for Malaysian shuttlers in the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2020 which begin at the Impact Arena in Bangkok on Wednesday.
Shuttlers from China and Japan will not feature in the season-ending finale which offers a whopping USD1.5 million in prize money.
To be eligible and qualify to compete in the World Tour Finals it was mandatory to play in the recent Yonex Thailand Open and Toyota Thailand Open which played at the same venue over the last two weeks.
Malaysia will have representatives in four categories except for the women’s singles.
In the men’s singles is Lee Zii Jia (pic left) with two pairs in the men’s doubles (Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and On Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi) and two in the women’s doubles (Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean and Vivian Hoo-Yap Cheng Wen) while Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie will battle in the mixed doubles.
Despite the big names missing, it will still an uphill task for the Malaysian hopes after their mediocre performance in the Yonex Thailand Open and the Toyota Thailand Open.
Malaysia could only win the runners-up spot in both the tournaments and this was in the men’s doubles.
Professionals Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong reached the final in the Yonex Thailand Open while Aaron-Wooi Yik in the Toyota Thailand Open.
Both pairs lost to Lee Yang-Wang Chi-Lin of Chinese Taipei who will be hot favorites in the World Tour Finals.
Much will also depend on the draw which will be conducted in Bangkok on Tuesday but Malaysians need to pull up their socks in overall performance if they want to make good in the grand finale.
Zii Jia was targetted to reach the semi-finals in the two tournaments in Thailand but he was a flop – exiting in the quarter-finals in the Yonex and crashed in the first round in the following tournament (Toyota).
Whether Zii Jia is in the right frame of mind after two disappointments in Bangkok the 23-year Kedahan needs solid mental strength and focus in his game if he wants to proceed beyond the group stages.
Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen who won back-to-back tournaments in Bangkok will once again start as the hot-favorite in the men’s singles while Spain’s Carolina Marin has shown all-round superiority in winning both titles in the Thai tournaments.
Current world number one Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei who was at the losing end in both tournaments is wounded after losing both finals to the lanky Spaniard.
Ratchanok Intanon

In Ratcanok Intanon the host can count on the former world No 1 to deliver.

The same goes for the rest of the Malaysian hopes and it is a matter of how fast they can recover and workout their shortcomings. There is only so much the coaches can do in training and the rest is left to the players to deliver on courts.
Hopefully, the Malaysian contenders can pull off some surprises and show that there is plenty of badminton in them.
Last but not least Zii Jia and company, hopefully, would not use the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse for not being able to deliver.

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