Top names out in force for the Yonex Japan Open
27/03/2001 : The 5* Yonex Japan Open, as the last World Grand Prix event ahead of the World Championships and Sudirman Cup in Seville, has attracted a host of badminton biggest stars, including twelve of the top 16 men's singles players.
Current world number one, Peter Gade of Denmark, looks set to be the top seed in Tokyo, and is accompanied in the line-up by Malaysian hero Roslin Hashim, who ended the nation's title drought in Switzerland last week. Olympic gold medallist Ji Xinpeng and bronze medal winner Xia Xuanze step out for China, and will be looking to forget the disappointment of their early exits from the All England Open at the beginning of the month. Teammate and All England runner-up Chen Hong will be joining them, in a bid to go one step further in Tokyo.
The Yonex Japan Open marks Wong Choong Hann's return to international competition - a lingering wrist injury has seen him out of the spotlight since the Asian Championships last November, and having slipped behind compatriots Roslin Hashim and Ong Ewe Hock in the world rankings, he'll be looking for a bright performance next week ahead of the world meet in Seville.
Although Olympic champion Gong Zhichao and teammate Dai Yun have skipped this event, Camilla Martin will face on onslaught of equally capable Chinese girls, including Zhou Mi who beat the world champion at the All England and on home soil at the Danish Open in October last year.
Xie Xingfang, Asian Champion, and Gong Ruina, former World Junior Champion are also in attendance.
The men's doubles event also boasts a strong entry, with new world number one pair Jens Eriksen and Jesper Larsen heading the list, followed by Indonesia's Limpele and Hian, Choong and Lee of Malaysia and Denmark's Swiss Open champions Michael Sogaard and Jim Laugesen, among others.
The dangerous new pairings of Candra Wijaya and Sigit Budiarto, and All England champions Tony Gunawan and Halim Haryanto will be out in force, looking to boost their respective world rankings in a bid to secure a good seeding for the World Championships.
England's hopes have taken a dent, with Simon Archer out of action with the knee injury which forced an early exit from the Swiss Open. His new partner in the mixed event, Gail Emms, has switched back to playing with Ian Sullivan, while Nathan Robertson, Archer's men's doubles partner, plays only in the mixed with Donna Kellogg in Tokyo.
Olympic and All England champions, Zhang Jun and Gao Ling will be hoping to make it two straight titles, but are likely to face strong challenges from Denmark's Sogaard and Olsen, and Eriksen and Schjoldager along the way.
World number one pair, Huang Nanyan and Yang Wei will be defending their women's doubles title in Tokyo, and based on recent performance, they should have no trouble. Helene Kirkegaard and Rikke Olsen, ranked number two, are their closest rivals, but in four past meeting, the Danes have only beaten the Chinese girls once.
Stay with Shuttlers, and we'll bring you the draws, and all the action from the Yonex Japan Open next week.