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Thursday January 3, 2013
PETALING JAYA: A refreshed world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei should be well on track for his ninth Malaysian Open title when the tournament begins from Jan 15-20 at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Chong Wei pulled out of the BWF World Super Series Finals in Shenzhen last month after losing his first match to China’s Du Pengyu.
He cited a thigh injury for pulling out and has not seen action since.
The two-week rest should have rejuvenated Chong Wei, who had a gruelling season last year, especially with the Olympics.
He has been given a rather tricky draw for the season-opener Korean Open (from Jan 8-13 in Seoul), having been drawn to meet China’s Wang Zhengming in the first round and nemesis Chen Long also in the fray.
But the draw for the Malaysian Open could not have been any kinder to Chong Wei, as he is almost guaranteed an easy run into the final, where he is tipped to meet Japan’s Kenichi Tago – the opponent he beat in last year’s final.
The most glaring absentees are the China quartet of Lin Dan, Chen Long, Chen Jin and Du Pengyu. World No. 12 Wang Zhengming is the only representative from China in men’s singles.
Nevertheless, Chong Wei still needs to be wary of several up-and-coming youngsters.
He takes on former world junior champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in the first round, and a win will see him face Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana.
Hong Kong’s Hu Yun should await him in the quarter-finals, with either Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh or Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen his opponent in the last four.
Besides Chong Wei, the other Malaysians in the fray are Chong Wei Feng, Liew Daren, Mohd Arif Abdul Latif and Tan Chun Seang. All four, however, face tough first round matches.
In men’s doubles, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong are the top seeds and have a very good chance of ending their Super Series drought – dating back to the 2010 Malaysian Open.
They face Indonesians Yonathan Suryatama Dasuki-Hendra Gunawan in the first round and a win would probably pit them against compatriots Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah next.
They should meet yet another Malaysian pair – fifth seeds Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong – in the quarter-finals, with a potential semi-final clash against South Koreans Ko Sung-hyun-Lee Yong-dae.
Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo-Kenichi Hayakawa are the second seeds.
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