Malaysian Chong Wei Feng will be up against 2.01m Vladimir Ivanov of Russia in the first round of the Korean Open starting on Wednesday in Seoul. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: December was a month of high and low for world No. 13 Chong Wei Feng.
The Kedahan was down in the dumps after a shocking first round defeat at the Myanmar SEA Games, but recovered well to win his first national title in his career.
Now, he is eager to start the year on a high when he takes to the court in the first round of the Korean Open in Seoul on Wednesday.
The scrawny Wei Feng, who has improved by leaps and bounds despite the Myanmar shocker, is fired up for a good result with places for the Thomas Cup, to be held from May 18-25 in New Delhi, India, at stake.
Although Wei Feng is almost guaranteed a spot in the team as he is the second ranked shuttler behind world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, every bit of good result will still collectively improve Malaysia’s standings in the seedings that will be based on individual players’ rankings.
“I ended the year on a high and I’m definitely looking forward to the new year with renewed confidence,” said Wei Feng.
“It was a disappointing SEA Games campaign for me but I managed to turn it around by winning my first national title.
“That has boosted my confidence and I intend to prove it here at the Korean Open. I’m definitely prepared for my first round match.”
Wei Feng, however, will not have it easy as he has been drawn against towering Russian Vladimir Ivanov in the first round.
A win will pit him against Japan’s Kenichi Tago, who has been struggling for confidence lately, and a potential quarter-final clash against world No. 3 Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark.
“It’s definitely tough although I’m well prepared. Everyone knows Vladimir is a very good player and I have to be very focused from the word go,” said Wei Feng.
Chong Wei is also in the fray and he’ll be aiming to defend his Korean Open crown.
The 31-year-old, who capped a successful 2013 by winning seven titles and topping the prize money list, will start off against South Korea’s Son Wan-ho in the first round.
He is expected to progress to the quarter-finals without too much problem where he should face seventh seed Du Pengyu of China.
In the qualifiers on Tuesday, former Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) shuttlers Tan Chun Seang and Chan Kwong Beng were shown an early exit.
Chun Seang lost in three games to a fitter Korean junior Jeon Hyuk-jin 14-21, 21-10, 18-21 while Kwong Beng retired after trailing 18-21, 7-11 to another Korean – Choi Sol-kyu.