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Tuesday November 20, 2012

Chong Wei is back but all eyes on tussle between Daren and Wei Feng

In the spotlight: Chong Wei Feng (left) and Liew Daren will be keen to do well in the Hong Kong Open as
they tussle for a spot in the Super Series Final. In the spotlight: Chong Wei Feng (left) and Liew Daren will be keen to do well in the Hong Kong Open as they tussle for a spot in the Super Series Final.

PETALING JAYA: The wedding break is over and World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei should ease back into action in fine style in the Hong Kong Open which begins today in Kowloon.

However, all eyes will be on his potential successors – Liew Daren and Chong Wei Feng.

The 30-year-old Chong Wei has not played since the Denmark Open last month as he took time off for his wedding to former national shuttler Wong Mew Choo.

He has a relatively easy draw with a first round meeting against Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana. Although Chong Wei’s half of the draw will feature several upcoming shuttlers such as China’s Du Pengyu and Wang Zhengming as well as Japan’s Kenichi Tago, none of them are in good form at the moment.

The fourth seeded Pengyu, who pushed Chong Wei all the way in the Denmark Open final, was a first round casualty in the French Open while Tago suffered several defeats to lower ranked opponents in the past few months.

Thus, it should be easy pickings for Chong Wei to make the final, provided he can shrug off his rustiness.

The focus though will be on French Open champion Daren and Wei Feng – players who have shown tremendous improvement of late and are still in the running to qualify for the Super Series Finals in Shenzhen last month.

With the Hong Kong meet being the last Super Series tournament, Daren, who is currently sixth in the Super Series standings, just needs to avoid an early exit to seal his ticket to Shenzhen. Only the top eight players qualify for the Super Series finals and each country can only have two representatives.

However, it will be easier said than done for the 25-year-old Daren who was strangely in subdued form in the China Open last week, crashing out in the second round against unknown qualifier Gao Huan.

He has another tough draw in Kowloon, as he will face Indonesia’s Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka in the first round. A win would pit him against second seed Chen Long.

Wei Feng, on the other hand, has an outside chance of overtaking Daren but he will need a really good outing in Hong Kong.

He won’t be boosted by the thrashing he received from Chen Long in Shanghai last week but should be good to pull off another win over Tago in the first round tomorrow.

Meanwhile, national backup shuttler Mohd Arif Abdul Latif was promoted to the main draw following the withdrawal of India’s Sourabh Verma but Misbun Ramdan Misbun and Iskandar Zulkarnian Zainuddin pulled out from the qualifying rounds.

In the men’s doubles, Malaysia’s challenge will be led by top seeds Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong, Goh V Shem-Ong Jian Guo and independent duo Gan Teik Chai-Ong Soon Hock.

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