Boasting a perfect 100 per cent win record since the turn of the year, Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong are on an absolute tear, collecting two title wins; Indonesia Masters and the All England.
The question on everyone’s lips is, can anyone stop the all-conquering world number one pair from China?
ZHENG SIWEI-HUANG YAQIONG
Revenge is indeed sweet.
Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong proved their mettle by clinching the only title which eluded them last year - the All England.
At this year’s Malaysia Open, the world No. 1 pair will have a shot at adding another milestone to their illustrious young careers – become the first ever mixed doubles duo in the long-standing history of the tournament to win back-to-back titles.
On current seemingly untouchable form, it would be no surprise to see the marauding world champions stand atop the podium in Bukit Jalil on Sunday.
YUTA WATANABE-ARISA HIGASHINO
The world No. 3 pair’s recent loss to Siwei-Yaqiong at the All England final must have been a bitter pill to swallow.
With a dismal head-to-head record of 1-5, it’s back to the drawing board for coach Jeremy Gan and company as they seek to find the key ingredient to nullify their bitter nemesis from China who have been installed as early favourites for the Malaysia Open this year.
Under the 40-year-old’s tutelage, Watanabe-Higashino have continued to show rapid improvement capturing their third BWF World Tour title by winning the Perodua Malaysia Masters in January.
With aspirations of becoming the first ever Japanese pair to win the Malaysia Open mixed doubles crown, expect fireworks in their Round 1 match-up against a forgotten duo on a comeback trail of their own, Malaysia’s Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing.
DECHAPOL PUAVARANUKROH-SAPSIREE TAERATTANACHAI
Sapsiree Taerattanachai has rebounded remarkably from a long injury lay-off last year and together with Dechapol Puavanarukroh, they have yet again made themselves part of the mixed doubles conversation.
The young pair enjoyed a strong finish to 2018, reaching the quarterfinals of China Open, semi-finals of French, Hong Kong Open and the BWF World Tour Finals.
Thailand’s fast rising stars have continued where they left off with a solid start to the year - achieving runner-up finishes in Thailand and Malaysian Masters.
On their day, the world No. 4 pair is a serious Malaysia Open title contender to watch out for.
Drawn to face Japan’s Takuro Hoki-Wakana Nagahara in the opener, Puavanarukroh-Taerattanachai is expected to have little trouble of advancing to Round 2 with Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai as possible opponents.
CHAN PENG SOON-GOH LIU YING
Ranked at No. 5, Malaysia’s leading pair is gunning for more success after embarking on an independent career at the beginning of the year.
After a strong start to the 2019 season – winning the Thailand Masters, followed by two successive semi-final appearances in the Indonesian and Malaysian Masters, Peng Soon-Liu Ying’s form has slightly dipped. The experienced pair suffered consecutive Round 1 and Round 2 exits in the German Open and the All England respectively.
Their return to home ground should excite fans who have taken the popular pair to heart since their silver medal feat at the Rio Olympics.
On paper, the established duo are expected to steamroll past unfancied pair from Japan, Kohei Gondo-Ayane Kurihara in the opening round of the Malaysia Open.