New Year’s new pairs get sneak preview

The Malaysia Masters entry lists are out and they give a hint as to some pairing changes due in the new year for the top echelon of world doubles badminton. […]

The Malaysia Masters entry lists are out and they give a hint as to some changes due in the new year for the top echelon of world doubles badminton.

Photos: Badmintonphoto

The Malaysia Masters has been upgraded to a US$350,000 neo--type event and along with it comes an early entry deadline.  The Badminton World Federation (BWF) published the entry lists yesterday, giving us a preview of some of the new pairings we can expect to see more of in 2018.

Many of the changes were foretold, as news stories had already surfaced about changes in Malaysia and Indonesia, in particular.  Perhaps the highest profile switch affects Korea Open champions and world #6 Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto.  The Indonesians will get a last chance on court together next week at the 2017 Superseries Finals in Dubai but starting with the Malaysia Masters in January, Susanto will partner men’s doubles world #11 Ricky Karanda Suwardi (pictured top) while Jordan will be paired with Melati Daeva Oktavianti.  While Jordan and Oktavianti have played together in domestic events and both have extensive experience in mixed doubles, it seems a very odd choice for Susanto.  According to BWF records, Suwardi has played exactly one international mixed doubles match in his professional career, and it was more than 8 years ago.

Also coming are four new men’s doubles pairings resulting from Hong Kong, China, and Korea pairing up their mixed doubles specialists.  China is fielding Lu Kai with Wang Yilyu, Korea Choi Sol Gyu with new mixed top ten entrant Seo Seung Jae, and Hong Kong is doing a men’s doubles partner switch that will put their top two mixed players, Lee Chun Hei and Tang Chun Man, together, while Chin Chung will play with Law Cheuk Him.

Lu Kai will get two new partners, in fact, as he is entered in mixed doubles with 19-year-old Zhou Chaomin.  Meanwhile, only 3 of China’s youngest women will be doing double duty.  Chen Qingchen, current world #1 in both doubles disciplines, already got a break from mixed in the last two Superseries events but the opposite specialty will be assumed in January for her counterpart Huang Yaqiong.  Tang Jinhua will again move over to women’s doubles but this time will take Huang’s place as Yu Xiaohan’s partner.  23-year-old Huang Dongping will be the oldest player playing both doubles.

As revealed this past week in the Malaysian press, both of the nation’s Olympic silver medallists will be back together.  In fact, Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (pictured) in mixed and reunited men’s doubles pairs Goh V Shem / Tan Wee Kiong and Ong Yew Sin / Teo Ee Yi will all be in action a week earlier at the Thailand Masters, whose entry lists were also published yesterday.

Korea is sending a very small team to Malaysia, with Choi Sol Gyu and Seo Seung Jae way down on the men’s doubles reserve list and unlikely to see any action.  Korea is going with just its top two mixed pairs and the women’s doubles appears to be reverting to the partnerships from the Denmark and French Opens, rather than the combinations sent to China and Hong Kong.  However, Korea is running its national team tryouts soon and many of the players not currently in the top 15 in the world may have to wait until they know whether they are on the team for 2018 before they are entered in major tournaments overseas.

Japan is sending only its national champions Yuta Watanabe / Arisa Higashino (pictured) in mixed doubles and will have only two women’s doubles pairs in Malaysia as well.  Perhaps the big news for Japanese fans is the inclusion of Kento Momota.  With the announcement last weekend that he would be allowed back on the national team, this will be his biggest tournament in nearly two years and he is #5 on the qualifying list.

Click the following links to download the entry lists for the Malaysia and Thailand Masters from the BWF website.

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @