Stern first-round test awaits Tze Yong at World Championships

PETALING JAYA: National men’s singles shuttler Ng Tze Yong (pic) faces a huge challenge to continue his recent resurgent form in his debut World Championships outing in Tokyo from Aug 21-28.

The world No. 42, who caught the eye with his stunning displays to deliver an unexpected silver medal at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, has been handed a tough draw in the world meet.

He will open his campaign against Indonesia’s Malaysian Masters champion Chico Aura in the first round after being placed in the upper half of the draw.

A win could pit Tze Yong against Japan’s world No. 14 Kanta Tsuneyama next.

If the Malaysian gets past the Japanese, he could face Denmark’s top seed and favourite Viktor Axelsen.

Tze Yong, though, should adopt the same fearless mentality that carried him throughout the Commonwealth Games campaign where he toppled reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore and runner-up K. Srikanth of India (twice).

The 22-year-old gave another Indian and last year’s world championship bronze medallist Lakshya Sen a run for his money before going down in three games in a thrilling final.

“I hope to continue my good performances in the World Championships. I will work hard and keep trying to improve,” Tze Yong had said after his silver-medal feat.

Meanwhile, his compatriot and world No. 5 Lee Zii Jia who skipped the quadrennial Games to focus fully on preparing for the world meet, could face either Srikanth or China’s Zhao Junpeng in the third round.

Before that, Zii Jia who has been placed in the lower half of the draw, should get past Brice Leverdez of France in the opening round.

In the second round, the 24-year-old should also have little trouble overcoming either Germany’s Max Weisskirchen or unheralded Portugese Bernardo Atilano.

If Zii Jia gets past Srikanth or Junpeng, he could cross swords with either Lakshya or Japan’s world No. 2 Kento Momota.

World No. 10 Lakshya and Momota could play each other in the third round in what promises to be a fascinating encounter.

Veteran Liew Daren faces early elimination as he has been drawn against Axelsen in the first round.

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