HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam's Nguyen Tien Minh will need to be at the top of his game to succeed at Japan Open Super Series badminton tournament after his lowly world ranking saw him handed a tough route to the final.
World No 14 Minh was marked as an unseeded player, meaning he'll have to see off the likes Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia if he is to reach the later stages.
The Tokyo tournament starts on September 18, with Minh facing up to China's world No 16 Wang Zhengming in his opening match.
It will be the third time the pair have met and Minh can go into the match with some confidence having triumphed in both previous encounters.
When they played at the Indonesia Open in 2011, Minh won 21-9, 25-27, 22-20 to enter the quarter-finals. He later knocked Wang out of the Malaysia Open Super Series's in January, winning the first round tie 18-21, 21-15, 21-15.
But if he does come out on top, the bigger challenge of Wei will await who, in the absence of China's two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, is the top seed.
Minh has lost seven of their eight meets, his only win coming three years ago at the Singapore Open.
The winner of the Tokyo event will walk away with a cool US$200,000 when the final concludes on September 23 and Minh will no doubt be motivated by the prospect of glory.
Later, Viet Nam's No 1 Minh will accompany Nguyen Thi Trang to China's Taipei for a Grand Prix Gold event that kicks off on October 2.
Minh is the No 2 seed here behind current world No 9 Kenichi Tago of Japan.
On the women's side, Trang received a first-round bye but is expected to meet with a strong rival in her first match.
The draw will be held next week, however host player Tai Tzu Ying, world No 12, is the top seed and an early favourite. — VNS