Choong Hann keen on breaking the Xuanze jinx

PETALING JAYA: Top national singles player Wong Choong Hann could set up a mouth-watering clash with Chinese bogeyman Xia Xuanze if everything goes by the book in the All-England badminton competition beginning tomorrow. 

The 26-year-old Choong Hann, the China Open champion, has never beaten the former All-England champion in their seven meetings so far. The latest defeat was at the Thomas Cup Finals in Guangzhou, China last year. 

For Choong Hann, though, the target is to reach the semi-finals first. He is seeded second while the 23-year-old Xuanze is seeded third. They are expected to face each other in the semi-finals. 

The other semi-final match, based on the seeding, should be between top seed Chen Hong of China and Denmark's Kenneth Jonassen, seeded fourth. However, Indonesian Taufik Hidayat, Chinese Bao Chunlai and Dane Peter-Gade Christensen will be out to upset the applecart. 

Choong Hann said he plans to live up to his seeding. “I have never gone beyond the third round and my aim is to reach at least the semi-finals. I will try to achieve this target first before I look further.” 

En route to the semi-finals, Choong Hann may meet his own teammates like Yong Hock Kin and Mohd Hafiz Hashim, Denmark's Anders Boesen or Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuncoro, who lifted the Asian Badminton Championships in Bangkok last year. He plays Germany's Jens Roch in the first round. 

National men's singles chief coach Misbun Sidek, however, believes Choong Hann can rise to the occasion. 

“He is a very hard-working player and has been very focused in his preparations for the All-England. If he plays true to his form, I am certain this will be his best ever All-England outing,” said Misbun. 

Besides Choong Hann, Hock Kin and Hafiz, the other men singles players competing in the All-England are Lee Tsuen Seng, Lee Chong Wei and Mohd Roslin Hashim. 

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