NATIONAL coach Misbun Sidek, despite saying Lee Chong Wei is a good bet to make the final, has nonetheless warned his protege against complacency when facing Lu Yi of China and Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana in the preliminary rounds of the All England in Birmingham on March 3-8.
Chong Wei, the World No 1, opens against Lu Yi before an expected second round clash with Boonsak.
Misbun has been impressed with Lu Yi’s improvement of late while Boonsak is an experienced campaigner who beat Chong Wei in the third round of the Asian Badminton Championships in Johor Baru last year.
Chong Wei beat Lu Yi in the quarter-finals of the French Open last year — their only meeting to date — and has has a 6-1 win-lose record against Boonsak.
Should Chong Wei clear the early hurdles, Misbun believes the road to the final will be smoothen although the player still has to face the likes of Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia in the last eight and Peter Gade Christensen of Denmark or another Indonesian Taufik Hidayat in the semis.
Chong Wei’s main rivals — China’s trio of Lin Dan, Chen Jin and Bao Chunlai — are all in the bottom half of the draw and only one will proceed to the final. “Although Chong Wei’s draw looks easier, it will be tricky against Lu Yi and Boonsak, so he needs to be really focused if he wants to make it all the way to the final,” said Misbun. “Lu Yi’s match strategy has been impressive in several tournaments while Boonsak can always prove to be a spoiler. Both players can cause trouble if they are taken lightly.
“Chong Wei can breathe easy once he reaches the quarter-finals even though the level of competition will become tougher with all the opponents trying to reach the final themselves.
“Sony can be beaten while the evergreen Peter Gade, who on his day can prove to be a tough opponent, is also beatable. So, Chong Wei’s target will obviously be Lin Dan in the final.
“Taufik’s challenge can be gauged on how he performs in the preliminaries where he must first beat Peter Gade (in the last eight)”. But Taufik will be motivated as he has never won the All England title, and if he is hungry enough, will be very dangerous. But Misbun, understandably, believes a focused Chong Wei can reach the final but will have to raise his game if the player on the other side of the net in the title match is arch rival Lin Dan.