KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei should be smiling after he was handed a rather good draw for the World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, from Aug 25-31.
But he is not. Top seed Chong Wei is worried right now on his lack of drive in training since coming back from an inner thigh injury.
“My mind is willing but my body is giving me trouble,” said Chong Wei.
“I am 80% better but every day is a struggle for me to psych myself up in training. My mood fluctuates. I get very upset when my legs give way when I try to push myself.
“I am beginning to feel the heat as it draws closer to the World Championships,” he admitted.
In the draw released, Chong Wei is in the same half with third seed Jan O Jorgensen and Viktor Axelsen (14th) of Denmark; Wang Zhengming of China (sixth); Simon Santoso of Indonesia (eighth); Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand (12th); Kento Momota (13th) and Sho Sasaki (15th) of Japan.
The 31-year-old Chong Wei faces a tricky opening match against unseeded Lee Dong-keun of South Korea. If he clears the hurdle, he will likely play reigning Glasgow Commonwealth Games champion P. Kashyap of India in the second round.
And barring any upsets, Chong Wei’s opponents are Boonsak in the third round, Zhengming or Kento in the quarter-finals and Jorgensen in the semi-finals.
In the lower half with second seed Chen Long of China are compatriot Tian Houwei (11th); Kenichi Tago of Japan (fourth); Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia (fifth); Shon Wan-ho of South Korea (seventh); Hu Yun of Hong Kong (ninth); Dane Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (10th) and Chong Wei Feng of Malaysia (16th).
In the absence of China’s five-time world champion Lin Dan, Chong Wei is now tipped to become the first Malaysian to win the world title.
Chong Wei, however, preached caution.
“It will not be easy. I will have to get myself motivated again. I need to analyse all my probable opponents. I have beaten all of them, but it will be a different scenario in Copenhagen,” said Chong Wei, who lost to Lin Dan in the final at the last two World Championships.
Chong Wei, however, will be leaving for Copenhagen without Rashid Sidek following the national singles chief coach’s fallout with Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff.
When asked whether Rashid’s absence was a setback in his build-up to the world meet, Chong Wei said: “I will not allow all these issues to distract me. Personally, I think it is not right to blame the coaches alone for any failure. The issue involving Rashid needs to be solved if we are to move forward and find the shuttlers to replace me.”