PETALING JAYA: Independent shuttler Liew Daren has ruled himself out of contention for the men’s singles crown at the Celcom Axiata National Championships, which begins in Ipoh today.
The 31-year-old will have to tread with caution in the coming weeks as he does not want to jeopardise his chances of playing in the All-England from March 6-10.
The world No. 29 is still bothered by his left foot injury that he sustained during his stunning win over world No. 2 Shi Yuqi of China in the quarter-finals of the Malaysian Masters last month.
However, Daren is still competing in the national meet after all because he needs to keep his eligibility in the tournament next year.
“I skipped last year’s meet (which he was the top seed) due to an injury and I can’t afford to give it another miss, otherwise I will be barred for next year’s meet,” explained Daren, who’s seeded second this week.
“My injury is getting better but I haven’t been able to resume full training yet. So, given my current conditions, I’m definitely not going to be challenging for the title.
“I need to take good care of my body so that I’ll be able to return to tip top condition for the two European meets – the All-England and Swiss Open (March 12-17).”
Daren has yet to win the national title. His best result was reaching the semi-finals – twice, in 2014 in Kuala Terengganu and 2017 in Ulu Kinta.
He was beaten by Lim Chi Wing on both occasions.
Daren has the chance to settle the score with two-time winner and fifth seed Chi Wing in Ipoh this week as they could cross paths in the quarter-finals on Thursday.
If Daren could make it to the last four, then third seed Soong Joo Ven will probably be his next opponent.
Top seed Lee Zii Jia, 2012 winner Misbun Ramdan Misbun, and rising stars Leong Jun Hao and Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin are in the top half of the draw.
The national meet, which offers a total prize money of RM104,000, starts today with the qualifying rounds for the men’s singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles.
The main draws for all the five events will only start on Wednesday.