GB’s leading women’s doubles duo Lauren Smith and Chloe Birch will take title-winning form back out on the World Tour next week when they contend the Malaysia Open Super 750 event.
And the pair, fresh from landing the Super 100 Orleans Masters crown – their third together – get to test their credentials against the world’s very best in Kuala Lumpur.
England’s reigning national champions have been drawn to face Japan’s world number one pair and top seeds Sayaka Hirota and Yuki Fukushima in round one.
Hirota and Fukushima have won 11 titles on the world circuit and took top honours in Malaysia in the 2017. They hold a 1-0 advantage over their English rivals following victory at the Denmark Open in October.
In fact, all of six England’s contenders in Malaysia face Asian opposition in round one.
Like their female teammates, Chris Langridge and Marcus Ellis also face in form rivals having been paired to face Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik, the YONEX All England finalists from Malaysia.
Just two places separate the pairs on the latest world rankings and the Olympic bronze medallists prevailed over their Malaysian rivals in the Saarlorlux Super 1000 final last season. But the head to head has been levelled up since following a Malaysian win at their home Masters event in January.
In the Mixed Doubles, GB’s two leading pairs could meet each other as soon as the second round. An all-English affair could be on the cards if Chris and Gabby Adcock defeat China’s Du Xuanyi and Feng Xueying and world number 11 pair Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith better Chen Tang Jie and Peck Yen Wei from Malaysia.
National champion Chloe Birch will fly solo in the singles event where she faces Thailand’s world top 20 star Busanan Ongbamrungphan. Victory could see Birch earn a shot at world number one Tai Tzu Ying.