PETALING JAYA: With the absence of Viktor Axelsen of Denmark and Shi Yuqi of China due to injury, Taiwan’s Chou Tien-chen (pic) will be hoping to seize the opportunity to become a world champion.
The 29-year-old’s attempts at the last two worlds ended in the quarter-finals. In 2017, he lost to Axelsen (18-21,22-20,16-21) in Glasgow and last year in Nanjing, China, he went down to Shi Yuqi (21-16,15-21,18-21).
In 2014, Tien-chen also fell short in the last eight, losing to Axelsen 14-21,14-21 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
With both his bogeymen out of the competition, Tien-chen, who is the second seed, will be salivating at the golden opportunity.
And in the second round yesterday, he took out Croatia’s Zvonmir Durkinjak with minimal effort with a 21-14,21-10 win in 32 minutes.
Up next for him is the winner of the match between France’s Thomas Rouxel and Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew.
Tien-chen should have no problems booking his spot in the quarter-finals where he will likely face India’s world No. 10 K. Srikanth, a player he has beaten in their last three meetings.
His real test will be in the semis, and it will likely be against two-time world champion and Rio 2016 Olympic champion Chen Long of China.
The Taiwanese has never beaten Chen Long, losing in all their seven meetings, but the latter’s performance has fluctuated this year and he has been defeated by lower ranked players.
Earlier this month at the Thailand Open, he fell in the first round to Taiwan’s Wang Tzu-wei.
Last month, he suffered two early defeats - against Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama in the opening round at the Japan Open and went down to Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia in the second round at the Indonesian Open.
Tien-chen, however, has been in stellar form. He won the Indonesian and Thailand Opens and rose to a career-high No. 2 in the world ranking.
Barring any upsets, Tien-chen will go up against world No.1 and defending champion Kento Momota in the final.
Having only won twice in 11 meetings against the Japanese, you can bet Tien-chen will find a way to become his country’s first-ever world champion.
Did you find this article insightful?