KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 1 men’s doubles shuttlers and top seeds Tan Wee Kiong-Goh V Shem will begin their All-England badminton championships with a first-round clash against Japan’s Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi in Birmingham on Wednesday.
On paper, that should be a cinch.
In reality, it’s a lot tougher than it looks.
The world No. 18 Japanese pair, both 21, have proved to be a menace for some of the world’s top pairs in the last one year. Their biggest win was against China’s world No. 6 pair Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen in the China Open last year.
“It looks rather easy, but it can all go wrong for us. We can’t take our first-round opponents lightly at all,” said Wee Kiong.
“The opening round is the most important. Other factors counts too ... we need to get used to the court as well as adjust to the cooler weather and time difference.
“Hopefully, we’ll live up to our top seeding.”
The All-England will be Wee Kiong-V Shem’s first international outing since winning the World Superseries Finals in Dubai last December as both players had been injured over the last three months.
Wee Kiong was down with a shoulder problem in January while V Shem injured his ankle last month.
“We’re both fine now. We’ve put in a lot of work in training and are looking forward to playing together again after the long break,” said Wee Kiong.
“We expect nothing less than a semi-final appearance again. It would be great if we can win our first All-England title.”
If they clear the first round hurdle, they will probably face China’s Liu Xiaolong-Xu Chen next. If they win, they should play either sixth seeds Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen of China or Thailand’s Bodin Isara-Nipitphon Phuangphuapet.
The others in their half are seventh seeds Angga Pratama-Ricky Karanda Suwardi of Indonesia and Japan’s No. 1 pair Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda.
Second seeds Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen of Denmark are in the lower half of the draw with China’s Chai Biao-Hong Wei, Malaysia’s Teo Ee Yi-Ong Yew Sin and the Indonesian-Malaysia combination of Hendra Setiawan-Tan Boon Heong.
Wee Kiong-V Shem left for Birmingham yesterday with Lee Chong Wei, Zulfadli Zulkiffli, Ee Yi-Yew Sin, Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei.
They will be joined by Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying and Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing after the German Open.