Former national champions Anita Raj Kaur and Julia Wong face tough first-round matches in the Asian Badminton Championships (ABC), which begin today with the qualifying tournament at the Indoor Stadium here.
Last year, Julia fell at the first hurdle, losing to eventual champion Wang Chen of Hong Kong.
Tomorrow, the 20-year-old Malaysian will be up against Indonesia’s Yulianti Maria Kristin, who had won their previous two meetings – at the finals of the satellite tournaments in Singapore and Surabaya.
“Two defeats are enough. I want to get the better of her in our third meeting,” said Julia after a workout with Anita at the stadium yesterday.
“The losses in Singapore and Surabaya have fired me up.
“I am in the right frame of mind and will give my best to beat Yulianti this time. My target is to at least reach the quarter-finals.”
If the world No. 19th ranked Julia advances, she will probably play against fifth-eighth seed Hirose Eriko of Japan in the second round.
“I have not played against Hirose before and it will be interesting if I get a match against her,” said Julia, who was a quarter-finalist at the All-England in Birmingham last month.
Just like Julia, it was also a disappointing outing for Anita in Johor Baru last year. She failed to qualify for the main draw after losing to South Korea's Jun Jae-yoon.
But her confidence has been boosted this time by a win over England's Commonwealth Games champion Tracey Hallam to qualify for the main draw of the All-England.
“On paper, things don't look good for me either this year. I will play against second seed Lu Lan of China in the first round,” said the 21-year-old.
“But I have no fear for the big names. I am playing much better now and may just spring a surprise.”
Malaysia's best hope is Wong Mew Choo, who is the highest ranked Malaysian at world number 11.