Lee Zii Jia heads into the Indonesia Masters, which begins on Tuesday, as he bids to become the first Malaysian men's singles shuttler to win this Super 500 event at the iconic Istora Senaya Stadium.
Lee’s consecutive victories at the Badminton Asia Championships and Thailand Open this year turned him into a top contender in every tournament.
In Jakarta, the Malaysian is seeded fifth in a field that contains other top names such as Denamark’s top two seeds Viktor Axelsen and Anders Antonsen.
Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting, Jonatan Christie, Lakshya Sen, Kunvalut Vitidsarn and Chou Tien-chen are the others who are also expected to contend for the title.
Lee has Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen for company in the opening round on Wednesday, and should he live up to expectations, is expected to face either Kunvalut or Ginting in the last eight.
Lee's assistant coach Liew Daren is also hoping for another good run after reaching a first semi-final in over two years at the Thailand Open last month.
Liew, who takes on China's Lu Guang Zu in the opening round, credited an upturn in form after joining Lee’s coaching set-up.
“Chinese players are always tough to face. I will do the necessary preparations, including studying his game before facing him. My endurance has improved a lot after joining Lee's team, and I’m looking forward to another good run,” he told Stadium Astro.
Besides Lee, there are expectations on the men’s doubles team to do well in a field headlined by Indonesia’s top two seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamujlo and Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan.
Malaysia are represented by five pairs in the main draw through Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi, Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin, Goh V Shem-Low Juan Shen and Nur Azriyn Ayub-Lim Kim Wah.
While Goh-Izzuddin already had a title to their name at the German Open this year and Ong-Teo continued to improve, Chia-Soh faced consistency problems.
The pair were separated after just one match at last month’s Thomas Cup, with Chia preferred with Teo instead.
The pair face a qualifier in the first round and, should they progress, will be up against either Ben Lane-Sean Vendy or Leo Carnando-Daniel Marthin in the second round.
“Saya paling tak suka bila jumpa dia la, dulu dia dekat sebelah, sekarang dekat depan”— Syakirah Zulkifly (@SykrhZlkfly) May 31, 2022
Reaksi Chan Peng Soon selepas dijadualkan bertemu bekas pasangannya, Goh Liu Ying di pusingan pertama Masters Indonesia 2022 @ASTROARENA pic.twitter.com/dJQXCLCXOB
In the mixed doubles, Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying meet for the first time since going their separate ways after 13 years last year.
Both shuttlers will make their debut with new partners too in hopes of reviving their flagging careers.
Chan is teaming up with Cheah Yee See, while Goh is pairing with Soong Joo Ven.
Since the inception of the Indonesia Masters in 2010, only one Malaysian pair were crowned champions through Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei back in 2011.