Nova expects battle between Malaysians for last eight spot

Moving up: Cheam June Wei has been promoted to the main draw from the qualifying rounds following China’s Lu Guangzu’s withdrawal.

PETALING JAYA: The battle is on!

Indonesian coach Nova Armada is expecting a tough battle between several Malaysians for a spot in the quarter-finals of the ongoing Swiss Open in Basel.

The tournament had been hit by the withdrawals of Thailand’s world No. 7 and Indian Open winner Kunlavut Vitidsarn, compatriot Kanthaphon Wangcharoen, China’s Lu Guangzu, Denmark’s Anders Antonsen and Rasmus Gemke.

Nova’s charge, independent player Cheam June Wei, has been promoted to the main draw from the qualifying rounds following Guangzu’s withdrawal.

World No. 41 June Wei, veteran Liew Daren and Badminton Association of Malaysia’s (BAM) Ng Tze Yong have all been placed in the top half of the draw.

June Wei will play Daren in the first round today.

If the former triumphs over the latter, he will likely face Tze Yong for a place in the last eight.

World No. 26 Tze Yong, who will be out to continue his good form after stunning Denmark’s world No. 1 and defending champion Viktor Axelsen in the second round of the recent All-England in Birmingham, will open his campaign against a qualifier.

“It’s going to be a good battle between the Malaysian players for a spot in the quarter-finals,” said Nova.

“I believe June Wei has a good opportunity to beat Daren and reach the next round.

“Hopefully, he can perform well in the second round too.”

Meanwhile, independent player and world No. 4 Lee Zii Jia, who has been drawn in the bottom half, has a tough opener as he takes on newly crowned All-England champion Li Shifeng of China.

World No. 11 Shifeng is currently on a hot streak as he also finished runner-up in the German Open earlier.

On head-to-head records, the Chinese shuttler holds a slight advantage over Zii Jia as he has beaten the latter in two of their past three meetings.

The winner of the match will likely play Indonesia’s world No. 28 Shesar Hiren for a place in the quarter-finals.

In the top half of the draw, Axelsen will be looking to bounce back from his setback in Birmingham.

The reigning Olympic champion from Denmark will play Shesar’s compatriot, world No. 17 Chico Aura in the first round.

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