China's reigning men's world No 1 Lin Dan is seeking to stretch his three-year unbeaten-run at the Japan Open this week in Tokyo, a tournament expected to be dominated by the Chinese.
The 23-year-old shuttler has not lost a match since he went down to fellow Chinese Bao Chunlai in the 2004 semifinals here.
Top seed Lin will face Bao in the final if the second seed can survive a tough bottom half of the draw which includes unseeded Athens Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia, third seed Chen Hong and seventh seed Chen Yu, both of China.
Hidayat will play Chen Hong, the two-time former All England champion, in the first round, while Bao will take on Thai ace Boonsak Ponsana.
Lin will play Joachim Persson of Denmark and then either Muhammad Roslin Hashim of Malaysia or Lee Yen Hui Kendrick of Singapore before a probable quarterfinal meeting with former champion Peter Gade of Denmark.
The top half of the draw also includes former world junior champion Chen Jin of China, former Asian champion Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, and Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia, who will play Ronald Susilo of Singapore in the first round.
Women's world No 1 Zhang Ning and No 2 Xie Xingfang, last year's finalists here, will be aiming to reaffirm their quality after disappointing performances at the world championships.
Top seed Zhang and second seed Xie are among a number of strong Chinese entrants including world champion Zhu Lin, the third seed, and Lu Lan, seeded seven.
Zhang's main threats before a probable meeting with Xie are 2006 European champion Xu Huaiwen of Germany, Hong Kong's Wang Chen, who shocked Zhang in the world championships, and Zhou Mi, who represents Hong Kong but used to be a teammate of Zhang.
Xie, who plays Judith Meulendijks of the Netherlands in the first round, should get the chance to avenge her loss at the world championships against Wong Mew Choo of Malaysia in the second round.
Fifth seed Pi Hongyan of France, eighth seed Petya Nedeltcheva of Bulgaria and former European champion Yao Jie of the Netherlands are also in the bottom half of the draw.
The first round of the tournament is today following a qualification round.