Last year’s TAHOE China Open proved to be one to remember for the host nation – but not for the right reasons.
For the first time since the tournament’s establishment in 1986 no Chinese player stood atop the podium, with the country having won 64% of all titles won in its 31-year history.
In fact, since its founding only eight nations have won China Open titles, with England and Thailand’s successes coming prior to the birth of the BWF Superseries in 2007.
But 2017 could be the year that all changes, with shuttlers from Japan and Chinese Taipei both in the running for glory.
In the women’s doubles, Japan’s Olympic champions Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi are seeded top and will be keen to improve on their second round exit last year.
Matsutomo and Takahashi won bronze at this year’s BWF World Championships in Glasgow but the familiarities of competing in Asia suit this pair, with success coming their way at April’s Asia Championships before they triumphed at September’s YONEX Japan Open.
The duo aren’t the only Japanese shuttlers in action in Fuzhou, however, with three more pairs representing in the women’s doubles.
Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda are seeded third in the men’s doubles draw, while in the women’s singles both Akane Yamaguchi and Nozomi Okuhara are set to take to the court.
But at the top of the women’s singles draw sits Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying, who will look to seal her nation’s maiden China Open title.
Fresh from victory at last month’s YONEX French Open, the 23-year-old will mount her challenge in Fuzhou in red hot form, with four other tournament wins under her belt from earlier in the year.
She also reached the semi-finals in China last year, eliminated at the hands of home favourite Sun Yu, a year after progressing to the last eight.
Chou Tien Chen will join her on the Chinese courts, seeded fifth in the men’s singles draw.
Photo: Badminton Photo