KUALA LUMPUR: Defending men's singles champion Lin Dan was oozing with confidence in his first workout at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
In the one-hour workout, Lin Dan of China rarely made any mistakes during a sparring session with Bao Chunlai, Chen Jin and Chen Yu. When he did make an error, Lin Dan, always the perfectionist, reacted with great annoyance.
With such focus and determination going into the World Championships, which begin tomorrow, the spiky-haired Lin Dan certainly looks good to end his jinx on Malaysian soil. The 23-year-old has never won a title in Malaysia. On several occasions, he was made to eat humble pie.
He stormed out of the court with his head held low after losing to local favourite Lee Chong Wei in the 2006 Malaysian Open final in Kuching despite taking a comfortable 20-13 lead in the rubber game. Lin Dan also lost to Chong Wei in the 2005 Malaysian Open at the KLBA Stadium in Cheras.
Just seven months ago, Lin Dan was sent packing by South Korean Park Sung-hwan in the second round of the Malaysian Open, the opening leg of the Super Series.
After yesterday's training session, Lin Dan was mobbed by the press. As usual, the taciturn world number one refused to say anything.
Lin Dan has been dubbed arrogant by Taufik Hidayat, the Olympic champion from Indonesia.
But national coach Misbun Sidek believes that it is his arrogance on the court that made him such a good player.
“Lin Dan is a player who is mentally very strong. Many fear him because of his intelligence on court. And Lin Dan knows this,” said Misbun yesterday.
Misbun, however, feels that Lin Dan has grown to respect Chong Wei.
“I was told that Lin Dan made a statement (on a Chinese website) that all he wanted was a meeting with Chong Wei in the world final. If this is true, then Lin Dan, who rarely respects his opponents, has acknowledged Chong Wei as one of his genuine opponents,” said Misbun.
“After all, Chong Wei is one of the few players in the world to have beaten him.”
This year, Chong Wei defeated Lin Dan in a group tie at the Sudirman Cup in Glasgow in June. But the Chinese exacted sweet revenge by beating Chong Wei at last month's China Masters semi-finals.