A file picture of Chen Long. In the absence of Lin Dan, he is expected to be the main threat to world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei in the All England badminton tournament. — AFP Photo
KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei will not have his nemesis Lin Dan of China as one of his opponents at the All-England in Birmingham from March 4-9.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) released the entries for the prestigious event on Thursday and five-time world champion Lin Dan, who had indicated making a return to the training centre recently after a six-month absence, did not make the cut.
Lin Dan is currently ranked 103rd in the world.
Chong Wei, who is the top seed, will be hoping to win the All-England title for the third time. However, he will face strong opposition as the rest of the players in the top 10 standings have confirmed their entry.
They are Chen Long of China, Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia, Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark, Kenichi Tago of Japan, Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand, Du Pengyu of China, Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam, Wang Zhengming of China and Hu Yun of Hong Kong.
Chen Long will be Chong Wei’s major threat.
The lanky Chinese beat Chong Wei in last year’s All-England final match and this year, he pulled off the same stunt in the final of the Korean Open last month.
Besides Chong Wei, Malaysia’s second-ranked singles player Chong Wei Feng will also start from the main draw but he will be unseeded. Four others – Liew Daren, Misbun Ramdan Misbun, Tan Chun Seang and Zulfadli Zulkiffli – will start from the qualifying tournament.
In the men’s doubles, the absence of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games gold medallist Lee Yong-dae and Kim Ki-jung, will be sorely felt.
Yong-dae and Ki-jung, who are currently undergoing a one-year suspension for their failure to inform their whereabouts during a doping test, have withdrawn from the tournament with their respective partners Yoo Yeon-seong and Kim Sa-rang.
With that, South Korea will only have one pair - Ko Sung-hyun-Shin Baek-cheol – at the All-England.
Malaysia’s world No. 7 Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong will also be absent from this year’s edition following Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM)’s decision to ground them from international tournaments.
The 2007 All-England champions Kien Keat-Boon Heong have put themselves in hot water following their insipid performances en route to their opening round defeat at the Malaysian Open last month.
The BAM will decide on their fate - whether to split or drop them – after the Chinese New Year celebration.
In their absence, the hope will be on world No. 8 Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong and reigning Malaysian Open winners Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem to keep the flag flying.
The other Malaysian representatives in the All-England are Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo and Ng Hui Lin-Ng Hui Ern in the women’s doubles; and Chan Peng Soon-Lai Pei Jing and Gan Teik Chai-Hui Lin in the mixed doubles.