Liew Daren: 'It has been more than a month since I took part in a competition. I’m now injury-free and I so badly want to make my way up again.'
KUALA LUMPUR: A fitter national men’s singles shuttler Liew Daren is back in the fray and hoping to boost his confidence ahead of the Thomas Cup Finals in New Delhi from May 18-25.
Daren left for Gimcheon in South Korea on Saturday to compete in the Asian Badminton Championships (ABC) starting on Wednesday and he is looking forward to a possible meeting against five-time world champion Lin Dan of China.
The ABC is Daren’s first tournament since crashing out in the first round of the All-England qualifying tournament in Birmingham in early March.
The 27-year-old Daren has been out of action for more than a month due to a recurring hamstring injury.
His world ranking suffered due to his absence from the international stage as it dropped from top-20 to No. 63.
He is now the sixth-ranked Malaysian player in the world standings behind No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, Chong Wei Feng (No. 20), Tan Chun Seang (No. 47), Misbun Ramdan Misbun (No. 49) and Zulfadli Zulkiffli (No. 58).
“It has been more than a month since I took part in a competition. I’m now injury-free and I so badly want to make my way up again. The ABC is a platform to revive my confidence and put me back in the right frame of mind going into the Thomas Cup Finals,” said Daren, who is set to play as the third singles in the Finals.
If everything goes to plan at the ABC, he may get a chance to play against Lin Dan in the quarter-finals.
Lin Dan is highly fancied to be named as the third singles for China’s team. All the countries have until May 4 to submit their entries by name to the Badminton World Federation (BWF).
“It will be great if I can cross paths with Lin Dan at the ABC since I may meet him in the Thomas Cup Finals. I played against him at the last edition of the Finals and managed to steal a game,” said Daren.
At the Finals in Wuhan in 2012, Daren had to assume the role of first singles after Chong Wei was ruled out of the competition with an ankle injury. In the quarter-finals against China, Daren gave a good fight before bowing out to Lin Dan.
In order to set up a quarter-final clash with Lin Dan at the ABC, the 2012 French Open champion will have to overcome rising South Korean star Lee Dong-keun in the first round and probably top seed Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand in the second.
Lin Dan is expected to get past K. Srikanth of India and Chen Chou-tien of Taiwan for a place in the quarter-finals.
The other Malaysian singles players who have qualified for the ABC are Wei Feng, Goh Soon Huat and Chong Yee Han.