Monday, January 7, 2013

Korea Open: Chong Wei remains Malaysia's best bet

By K.M. Boopathy

WHO can Malaysia turn to when the Korea Open, the curtain raiser to the 2013 badminton season, begins today?
Who else but the same old Lee Chong Wei. Nobody else to pick up the cudgel.
But with Chong Wei, the defending champion, not at the height of his powers, it will take additional effort from the World No 1 to nail his third title in Korea.
Success last year was extra sweet for Chong Wei as he had beaten the great Lin Dan of China in the final. This time Super Dan is not around as he is still on holiday after his Olympic triumph in London.
But in Seoul, China will have young pretenders out to steal the thunder from Chong Wei. However, the Malaysian's experience should come in handy.
Wang Zhengming of China, who faces Chong Wei in the first round, has never beaten Chong Wei.
The World No 1 is likely to face Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia or Marc Zwiebler of Germany in the second round. In the quarter-final, Chong Wei is scripted to meet Hu Yun of Hong Kong.
A semi-final meeting against Chen Jin is in store for Chong Wei. The Malaysian should face little trouble as the third seeded Chinese is on the decline.
In the final, Chong Wei should meet second seed Chen Long of China who has beaten the former in the Hong Kong Open final in November.
However, national coach Tey Seu Bock said Chong Wei is better prepared to face Chen Long this time.
Men's doubles Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong are no longer a pair that can intimidate rivals, as time and again, they can lose to lower ranked pairs and new combinations.
They are also increasingly vulnerable playing South Korean combinations.
They have an easy ride to the semis as they will meet a qualifying pair and most likely face compatriots Gan Teik Chai-Ong Soon Hock in the second round.
The quarter-final is expected to be tougher as they will play either China's Liu Xiaolong-Qiu Zihan or Hirokatsu Hashimoto-Noriyasu Hirata of Japan before setting up a semi-final clash against South Korea's Ko Sung Hyun-Lee Yong Dae.
Coach Tan Kim Her will also be hoping for second pair Tan Wee Kiong-Hoon Thien How to make a big impact in the super series but they have a tough task playing Hiroyuki Endo-Kenichi Hayakawa of Japan in the first round.
Should Wee Kiong-Thien How get an upset win, they are expected to meet compatriots Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah in the second round and could face Sung Hyun-Yong Dae in the last eight.
Courtesy of New Straits Times
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