Singapore's top mixed doubles duo eye quarter-final spot
World No. 15 mixed doubles pair bullish about chances at OUE Singapore Open
No Singaporean shuttler, singles or doubles, has broken into the world's top 10 since mixed doubles pair Vanessa Neo and Danny Bawa Chrisnanta placed 10th in October 2014.
The mixed doubles tandem of Terry Hee and Tan Wei Han aims to change that.
The duo reached their career-high ranking of 15th in January this year and are aiming to break into the top 10 within the next year.
Tan, 23, told The New Paper: "We are 15th in the world right now, but the gap between 15th and 10th is quite significant, so we are aiming to break the top 10 by the end of this year, or June next year."
The upcoming OUE Singapore Open, from April 11-16 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, will be an important platform for Hee, 21, and Tan, to achieve that aim.
While the pair won two titles last year - the Hungarian International and the Smiling Fish International Challenge in Thailand - they have yet to progress beyond the Round of 16 in a Superseries tournament, second to only the Superseries Premier competitions in the Badminton World Federation's hierarchy of competitions.
The Singaporeans exited in the second round of the OUE Open, a Superseries tournament here last year, but have set their sights on making the quarter-finals this year.
"We are hoping to make it to our first Superseries quarter-finals (in Singapore)," Tan said.
"Getting into the last eight for a Superseries event will give us a huge boost in terms of world ranking points.
"We are excited that most of the world No. 1s and Olympic champions will be coming to Singapore. This is a test of how we fare against the top few in the world."
The mixed doubles field at the OUE Open this year will be stacked with world-class stars, after registration for the tournament closed yesterday.
Olympic champions Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia, who won in Singapore in 2013 and 2014, have signed up this year, along with Olympic silver medallists Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying of Malaysia.
China's world No. 1 tandem of Chen Qingchen and Zheng Siwei will be here as well.
Other than Tontowi and Liliyana, Olympic champions Chen Long (China, men's singles), Carolina Marin (Spain, women's singles), and the pair of Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi (Japan, women's doubles) will also be in action at the Indoor Stadium.
Badminton powerhouses Denmark will be represented by the likes of Olympic men's singles bronze medallist Viktor Axelsen and Olympic women's doubles silver medallists Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Juhl, making this year's OUE Open one of the most competitive editions in recent times.
Singapore is the last Superseries tournament for shuttlers to earn ranking points to qualify for the World Championships in August.
The Republic will be represented by the likes of Hee and Tan, women's singles world No. 24 Liang Xiaoyu, and men's doubles world No. 29 Christnanta and Hendra Wijaya.