Japan's Kenichi Tago has withdrawn from the badminton world championships in Denmark starting on Aug 25 due to injury. - AFP
KUALA LUMPUR: Japanese Kenichi Tago’s withdrawal has made the path easier for second seed Chen Long of China at the World Championships in Copenhagen from Aug 25-31.
And that is not good news for world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei.
On Friday, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) confirmed fourth seed Tago’s pullout due to an injury. As the draw has been made, there will be no replacement.
Tago is the fourth big star to miss the World Championships. Five-time world champion Lin Dan of China failed to qualify while under-performing Du Pengyu was withdrawn by China. As for Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuncoro, injury forced him to pull out.
With Tago out, the main challengers for Chen Long will be Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia (fifth seed), Shon Wan-ho of South Korea (seventh seed), Hu Yun of Hong Kong (ninth seed), Hans Kristian-Vittinghus of Denmark (10th seed) and Tian Houwei of China (11th seed).
As for Chong Wei, he has third seed Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark, Wang Zhengming of China (sixth seed), Simon Santoso of Indonesia (eighth seed), Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand (12th seed) and Kento Momota of Japan (13th seed) for company.
National singles coach Tey Seu Bock said Tago’s withdrawal had made Chen Long’s task lighter.
“Tago was supposed to be Chen Long’s strongest opponent in his half of the draw. Now, he will not be there to push the Chinese. I guess it is a positive draw for Chen Long,” said Seu Bock.
“For Chong Wei, nothing much has changed. He has beaten all the top players in his half but it will be a folly to take anyone lightly.
“Jorgensen relishes playing at home and has made life difficult for Chong Wei a few times in Denmark (during the Denmark Opens). Both Simon and Kento are also in good form,” he added.
This year, Simon was victorious over Chong Wei in the Singapore Open final. As for Kento, he went down fighting to Chong Wei in the All-England quarter-finals.
“Chong Wei is not in his best form but this is his best chance of winning. It will be a challenging outing for him. He is trying hard in training. Hopefully, he will reap the rewards of all his hard work.”
This is the third time that Seu Bock is following Chong Wei, twice a runner-up, to the World Championships.
“Hopefully, it will be third time lucky for us,” added Seu Bock.