Li Xuerui: 'All the young women’s singles shuttlers are getting stronger and giving the top players a tough fight.'
BUKIT JALIL: Reigning Olympic champion Li Xuerui believes that the tight competition in women’s singles is making it more interesting than the men’s event.
Last year, Xuerui and Wang Yihan won three Super Series titles each while the remaining six were won by six different winners.
Although China are still dominant in women’s singles, several young shuttlers, such as Thai sensation Ratchanok Intanon (who won the World Championships), have proven that they can win as well.
And that’s what world No. 1 Xuerui, who celebrates her 23rd birthday on Jan 24, believes has made the women’s singles game a lot more exciting.
“All the young women’s singles shuttlers are getting stronger and giving the top players a tough fight,” said the down-to-earth Xuerui.
“This gives us more variety in women’s singles and I can say it has definitely become more exciting recently.
“It is unlike the men’s singles, where Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long have set the bar so high that it’s hard for others to reach.”
Meanwhile Xuerui, who skipped the Korean Open last week, is hoping for a good start to the year by winning the Maybank Malaysian Open, where she is the top seed.
“I’ll definitely be looking to win it,” said the Chongqing native, who bagged the Super Series Finals title last month.
“It’ll be tough because I’ve got Porntip (Buranaprasertsuk) of Thailand in the first round and she’s very strong.
“I’ve had some rest by skipping the Korean test ... though not much as training was vigorous and I think it’s important to have a good start.
“Most importantly, by doing well here, it’ll boost my confidence for the year ... we have a long year ahead with so many big tournaments coming up.
“Of course, I’m aiming to compete in everything and win everything but I have to take it one tournament at a time.”
Besides Xuerui, China will also have a host of shuttlers aiming to bag the Malaysian Open title.
Among them is the in-form Yihan, who is fresh from winning the Korean Open last week and seeking to regain the title she last won in 2012.
Last year’s runner-up Yao Xue, second seed Wang Shixian, Han Li and the towering Sun Yu complete the line-up.