By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
The world No 8 last week reached the final of the German Open, her second final of 2019, before losing a high-quality epic battle against two-time champion Akane Yamaguchi.
The Yasothon player has been at the top of her game, beating former world champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan en route to last week’s final, having also won the Malaysian Masters in January.
The 24-year-old also has fond memories of Birmingham, having twice reached the final there, in 2013 and 2017.
She will open her account against world No 25 Chen Xiaoxin of China, having beaten her in Germany, albeit due to her opponent’s retirement through injury when she was down one game and 1-1 in the second.
Four Thai women are in the singles draw at the world-class, Super 100 tournament.
Thai No 2 and world No 18 Nitchaon Jindapol is up against world No 12 Beiwen Zhang of the US – their head-to-head stands at 3-3.
Pornpawee Chochuwong and Busanan Ongbamrungphan have an all-Thai affair, thus guaranteeing the Kingdom one player in the last 16. World No 25 Busanan came out on top 21-10 21-4 when they last met, in the Princess Masters in Bangkok, in January.
Two-time defending champion and world No 1 Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan kicks off her title defence against Michelle Li of Canada, while No 2 Nozomi Okuhara will meet 19-year-old Indonesian Gregoria Mariska Tunjung, the former world junior champion.
On the men’s side, Thai No 1 and world No 16 Khosit Phetpradab has a daunting task against top seed and world champion Kento Momota of Japan – he has never beaten the world No 1 in their four meetings to date.
Thai No 2 and world No 18 Kantapon Wangcharoen meets the 28th-ranked Taiwanese Wang Tzu Wei while No 34 Suppanyu Avihingsanon will play Daren Liew of Malaysia, the world No 27.
In mixed doubles, the world No 4 pairing, Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai, will compete against Yuki Kaneko and Misaki Matsutomo of Japan.