Badminton Life

Pi Hoping for Home Advantage in French Open

Pi Hongyan is hoping to sign off her career in style when she lines up in front of her home fans for the French Open next week.

The China-born Frenchwoman thrilled the crowds last year when she reached the final, defeating powerful Chinese opponents Zhang Ning and Lu Lan on the way.

However, she was unable to overcome world number one Xie Xingfang in the final, even though she put up a tremendous fight, urged on by her legion of supporters.

Pi is hoping to bid farewell to the international scene after the French Open but she will have a tough time of it because of the strong field assembled for this Super Series event, featuring nine of the world's top 10 women's players.

The French number one is drawn to meet China's Yao Jie in her opening match. Should she progress further, she is slated to meet either All England women's singles winner Tine Rasmussen, of Denmark, or Germany's Xu Huaiwen in the semi-finals.

However, there is no guarantee that Xu will get that far because she has an extremely difficult hurdle to clear in the form of China's Wang Yihan, the next star from the mainland who won the Japan Open earlier this year.

The other half of the draw features Indonesia's Maria Kristin Yulianti, who made a name for herself at the Olympics when she won the bronze medal.

Zhu Lin and Lu Lan are also in that half of the draw, with Zhu slated to meet Yulianti in the first round.

Zhang, the 2004 Athens Olympic champion and 2008 Beijing Olympics Champion, may be there not as a player but as a coach because she was recently appointed women's singles coach by the governing body in China.

Indonesia's Sony Dwi Kuncoro will be among the favourites to land the men's singles title in the absence of Olympic champion Lin Dan, of China, though he might have to deal with Malaysia's world number one Lee Chong Wei.

The in-form Sony, who won the bronze at the 2004 Olympics but only reached the quarter-finals this year, will be looking for his fourth title of the season, though he might have to come up against Denmark's Joachim Persson and compatriot Taufik Hidayat.

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