All the best: BAM president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria (right) meeting Lee Chong Wei (left) and World Championships and SEA Games-bound players at the Malaysia Badminton Academy yesterday. — S.S. KANESAN / The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 2 Lee Chong Wei has boldly declared that he is ready to “take down anyone in my path” as he seeks to achieve his lifelong dream of becoming a world badminton champion.
And that includes bulldozing his way past the “Great Wall of China” that’s been put up in his path at the World Championships, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from Aug 21-27.
He is likely to face three out of the four shuttlers from China in his quest for the world title.
The 34-year-old has been drawn in the same half as Chen Long and Tian Houwei.
He is expected to face Houwei in the third round and Chen Long in the quarter-finals.
Chen Long was the man who broke Chong Wei’s heart twice in the last two major finals – the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the 2015 World Championships in Jakarta.
Another tricky test awaits Chong Wei in the semi-finals in the form of Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, the Rio Olympics bronze medallist.
Should Chong Wei reach the final, he is likely to come face-to-face with his nemesis and two-time Olympic gold medallist Lin Dan of China.
Lin Dan, who is also a five-time world champion, and his compatriot world No. 4 Shi Yuqi are in the other half of the draw.
But Chong Wei is not the type to be easily rattled.
“In the World Championships, there’s no such thing as a favourable draw because there are four Chinese players in the competition and you will somehow face them at some point,” said Chong Wei.
“From the draw, everyone’s like ‘oh, tough luck, he’ll meet Chen Long in the quarters’, but I’m not surprised. I expected it to be tough right from the start and I’m prepared for any obstacles put in front of me.
“To be a world champion, you just have to beat everyone.”
Asked if he’s eyeing a possible title showdown against Lin Dan, Chong Wei swiftly played it down.
“There’s no point talking about the final now,” stressed Chong Wei.
“I prefer to take it one match at a time because every opponent poses a different challenge. I’ll discuss and analyse the opponents with my coach (Datuk Misbun Sidek) and come out with a game plan for each round.”
Chong Wei was runner-up twice to Lin Dan at the 2011 and 2013 world meets in London and Guangzhou. Lin Dan also beat Chong Wei to two Olympics golds – at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Chong Wei is expected to clear the first two hurdles with ease – against Brice Leverdez of France and the winner of the game between Zvonimir Durkinjak of Croatia and Misha Zilberman of Israel.
This will be Chong Wei’s 10th appearance in the world meet since winning a bronze on his debut in Anaheim, United States, in 2005.