The New Zealand Badminton Open to be held in Auckland next month has attracted a stellar field, with close to 300 players to compete in the US$50,000 tournament.
Twenty-one nations will be represented through 277 athletes and for the first time ever in an international event in New Zealand, there will be a reserve list for two of the qualifying draws on top of a full main draw in all singles, doubles and mixed competitions.
Event director Julie Carrel said the interest in the tournament is proof of the depth in world badminton.
“There are a lot of potential Olympians for Rio in the draw, especially from China who appear to be bringing a large group of younger players who will probably be close to the medals at the next Olympics.
“It’s going to be tough for local players, but I’m sure they are keen to get in amongst their top rivals from around the world.”
The tournament has attracted former world No 3 men’s player Simon Santoso, who currently sits at No 20 in the world, who is using the Auckland tournament as a stepping stone to return to the top 10 after being curtailed by injury.
Heading the Kiwi contingent in the 64 player men’s singles draw will be New Zealand No 1 Joe Wu, who has a current ranking of 123 and won two titles in South and Central America last year.
The women’s draw is headlined by Taipei’s world No 21 Hsiao Ma Pai. New Zealand players will include Anna Rankin from Southland and Anona Pak from North Harbour.
The men’s doubles draw features four combinations ranked in the world’s top 20, with the top seeded combination likely to be Ryan Agung Saputra and Angga Pratama of Indonesia who are ranked 13th in the world.
The women’s doubles has four teams inside the top 50 including the Korean pair Ye Na Jan and SoYoung Kim, who were semi-finalists at the strong German Open earlier this month
The Indonesian pair of Riky Widianto and Puspita Richi Dili, who are ranked 12th in the world, head the mixed doubles entry with New Zealand brother and sister Oliver Leydon Davis and Susannah Leydon Davis the top local hope.
The tournament will be held from April 10-14 at the North Shore Events Centre.
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