Ratchanok Intanon
2015 champion Intanon starts as favourite to win today's R16 clash Reuters

Sixth seed Ratchanok Intanon takes on unseeded Malaysian shuttler Soniia Cheah in the Women's singles R16 tie at 2017 Badminton Asia Championships in Wuhan on Thursday.

The 2015 champion fended off a stiff challenge from China's Chen Xiaoxin in her opening round clash yesterday. After taking a comfortable 16-11 lead in the first game, Intanton lost five points on the trot but held her composure to close out the game in her first game point itself.

Things worsened for the Thailand shuttler as she was trailing Chen 12-5 in the second game. However, she buckled up and won seven straight points to put the pressure back on the Chinese youngster.

On the other hand, Soniia, who progressed to the tournament proper from the qualification stages, just needed 26 minutes to decimate Iran's world number 220 Soraya Aghaeihajiagha 21-10, 21-7.

Intanon reportedly conceded she had issues with concentration yesterday and that she cannot afford to make mistakes like yesterday in her tie against Soniia. Notably, the world number 10 has suffered a title drought since winning last year's Singapore Open and she will be low on confidence after failing in the opening round of her title defence in the Lion City earlier this month.

The 22-year-old Thailand shuttler though began the year on a high, by reaching the final of All England Championships, but suffered quarter-final exits in India and Malaysia. Despite not being in the best of her abilities, Intanon will be the clear favourite to win today's tie and progress to the quarter-final.

Soniia though is the only contestant remaining in the Women's singles field from Malaysia after the first-round exit of World Junior Championships runner-up Goh Jin Wei. Having being dumped out of tournaments early in this season, the 23-year-old is likely to face an uphill task against Intanon today.