Chong Wei: Competition in men’s singles heating up

PETALING JAYA: Lee Chong Wei foresees the men’s singles competition to be more competitive especially with the World Championships looming.

This comes after the likes of world No. 1 Kento Momota and China’s Shi Yuqi appear to have rediscovered their form at the Sudirman Cup and the emergence of Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia.

All this looks set to jeopardise the dominance enjoyed by Viktor Axelsen in the last 18 months.

The Dane won gold at the Tokyo Olympics recently and will now have his sights on the World Championships in Huelva, Spain from Dec 12-19.

Apart from reclaiming the crown he last won in 2017, Axelsen will also fancy a chance of becoming the unprecedented Olympics winner and world champion in the same year.

“It’s going to be exciting for sure,” said Chong Wei, who is a three-time runner-up.

“It will be a more open affair instead of the usual suspects. Axelsen has done well and was the most consistent throughout the pandemic.

“But I think Momota, Yuqi, Zii Jia, (Anders) Antonsen, (Anthony) Ginting, (Chou) Tien-chen will also be among the contenders in the coming tournaments and ultimately, the World Championships.”

Chong Wei added that it also boils down to who heads to Huelva with plenty of gas left in their tank given the hectic schedule lined up before the world meet.

After the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup Finals in Aarhus from Oct 9-17, there’s the Denmark Open (Oct 19-24), French Open (Oct 26-31), Hylo Open, Germany (Nov 2-7), Indonesian Masters (Nov 16-21), Indonesian Open (Nov 23-28) and World Tour Finals (Dec 1-5), the three back-to-back events in Bali.

“The busy schedule will have an impact on the contenders. The players with the best conditions will have the edge.

“The back-to-back tournaments and the amount of travelling from different continent would pose a massive challenge especially when it comes to recovery and staying injury-free.”

Zii Jia will shoulder the nation’s hope of becoming the first Malaysian world champion.

Momota will be gunning for his third straight world title having won it in Nanjing 2018 and Basel 2019. Yuqi will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of previous winners Lin Dan and Chen Long.

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