|Lee Chong Wei will be sporting a big smile on his face as he plots the defence of his All-England title in Birmingham next month|
PETALING JAYA: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei will be sporting a big smile on his face as he plots the defence of his All-England title in Birmingham next month.
Chong Wei’s hopes of retaining the title he won in the 100th edition of the tournament last year brightened considerably after the draw yesterday as he will not have to play his nemesis Lin Dan of China until the final.
The duo are currently a level above the rest of the field in the men’s singles game and world badminton fans will be relishing another opportunity to see a showdown between them at the prestigious tournament next month.
Third seeded Lin Dan is drawn in the bottom half and veteran Wong Choong Hann has the misfortune of meeting the reigning Olympic champion in the first round.
Lin Dan should play either Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh, Denmark’s Jan Jorgensen or his countryman Du Pengyu for a place in the last four.
An all-Chinese semi-final affair could materialise with fellow compatriot and world champion Chen Jin of China, seeded sixth in the lower half.
But even Chen Jin may be upstaged by fast rising compatriot Wang Zhengming who has the potential to play spoiler.
The unseeded Zhengming opens his campaign against Park Sung-hwan of South Korea with the winner earning a second round clash against second seed Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia.
Chong Wei, on the other hand, has an easy first round match against Sho Sasaki of Japan.
Chong Wei, who just lifted his ninth national title on Monday, is slated to play against Bao Chunlai of China or Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia next but should prevail if he plays to his true potential.
Thai Boonsak Ponsana awaits in the quarter-finals while either top Dane Peter-Gade Christensen or China’s Chen Long may be lining up against the Malaysian in the semi-finals.
Singles coach Rashid Sidek said Chong Wei has displayed superb consistency in the Super Series tournaments so far and hopes he can keep up the good momentum.
“The All-England, however, is a prestigious tournament and everyone wants to win it.
“Chong Wei will surely be out to live up to his billing by making the final again but every match will not be easy,” he said.
The All-England is the fourth Super Series meet for the year. Chong Wei had earlier won the Super Series Masters Finals in Taipei and went on to retain the Malaysian Open title.
However, he lost to Lin Dan in the Korean Open final and it remains to be seen whether Misbun Sidek, who has yet to come back to the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) on whether he will change his mind and remain in the coaching fold, will make a trip to Birmingham to guide his star player.
The men’s doubles pair of Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong will find it tough in their bid to regain the All-England title as they have to cross swords with Olympic champions Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan in the last eight.
The Indonesian pair are currently independent players but still manage to keep their good record against Kien Keat-Boon Heong as proved in the successful battle for the Asian Games gold medal last November.
It is little comfort for Kien Keat-Boon Heong as world champions Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun or second seeded South Korean pair Ko Sung-hyun-Yoo Yeon-seong stand in their way if they manage to beat the Indonesians.
Back-up pair Mak Hee Chun-Tan Wee Kiong play Hiroyuki Endo-Kenichi Hayakawa of Japan and are in the same half of the draw with top seed and world No. 1 pair Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen.
Mohd Fairizizuan Mohd Tazari-Ong Soon Hock also made it to the main draw and earned a first round clash against eighth seeds Mohd Ahsan-Bona Septano of Indonesia.
In the women’s singles, Wong Mew Choo has a tough opening round against third seed Wang Xin of China.
If she creates a big upset, Mew Choo will face another Chinese hurdle next in either Lu Lan or Jiang Yanjiao - theStarOnline