PETALING JAYA: Denmark's Peter Gade-Christensen is one of the three men's singles players aiming to win the All-England title for the second time in the championships, which begin today in Birmingham.
Gade-Christensen, who has gone through ups and downs in his badminton career since winning the title in 1999, is optimistic of his chances to emerge as the champion again.
Besides the 29-year-old Gade-Christensen, the other players in the fray who have won the title once before are China's Lin Dan (2004), and Malaysia's Mohd Hafiz Hashim (2003). Another player, defending champion Chen Hong of China, will be gunning for a hat-trick of titles. Chen Hong first won the title in 2002.
In the absence of Olympic and world champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia, Gade-Christensen has picked Lin Dan and Malaysia's world number three Lee Chong Wei as the strong contenders for the title.
“Taufik's absence has not only made it easier for me but also for the others. The chances are quite good for me to win the tournament,” said Gade-Christensen via e-mail.
“Lin Dan is the only one in the field, who has given me much trouble in the tournament (Gade-Christensen was beaten by the Chinese in the 2004 final). But I am constantly improving on my game in every area. I feel ready to take on the challenges.”
Lin Dan is the top seed ahead of teammate Bao Chunlai and Chong Wei.
The fourth seeded Gade-Christensen added that Chong Wei was also a player to be treated with caution.
“Chong Wei showed that he was a very good and stable player last year,” he said.
“He constantly reached the quarter-finals and semi-finals and he justified being among the top four players in the world. But he still has to show good results in big tournaments.
“Besides Chong Wei, I will always cheer for my good friend, Wong Choong Hann. I hope for the best for him.”
He is happy with his draw.
“It is a good draw even though I have to play against the talented Park Sung-hwan (of South Korea) in the first round,” said Gade-Christensen, who is in te same half of the draw as Chunlai.
“It is all right for me to play Ng Wei (of Hong Kong) in the last 16. Then, maybe I will face Hafiz or Boonsak (Ponsana of Thailand) in the last eight. But I feel good.”