PETALING JAYA: After suffering an unexpected blip in his last Open tournament two months ago, Lee Chong Wei will be looking to live up to his reputation as the world’s top ranked singles player in the Singapore Open next week.
Chong Wei suffered food poisoning at the Indian Open and the weakened shuttler was beaten by Chinese junior Chen Long in the first round.
Olympic champion Lin Dan is giving the Singapore Open a skip for the second successive year and it again presents Chong Wei, who leads one of the smallest Malaysian teams in years to the championships, a good opportunity to win a third Super Series title this year.
However, the Malaysian and Swiss Open champion will not have it easy as there are still formidable Chinese opponents in his path.
Chong Wei faces Andrew Smith in the opening round and a win will give him a match against either Vietnamese Nguyen Tien Minh or Japanese Sho Sasaki.
But he will have to raise his game from the quarter-finals as he could be up against unseeded Bao Chunlai. Also in the same quarter is world championship-bound Malaysian veteran Wong Choong Hann, who has a first-round match against Chetan Anand of India.
If Chong Wei makes it to the semi-finals, he is likely to go up against fourth seed Chen Jin of China. Chen Jin will play against Sairul Amar Ayob in the first round while the run of another Malaysian, Lee Tsuen Seng, may end in the second round against third seeded Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuncoro.
The draw looks easier for second seed Peter-Gade Christensen of Denmark to reach the final as he only has to worry about Sony and sixth seeded Indonesian Simon Santoso.
“Although Lin Dan is not playing, I am not taking anything for granted as I am in the tougher half (of the draw),” said Chong Wei.
“It is a good opportunity to build on my current ranking status and I hope to retain the title.”
It will not be easy either for the top Malaysian men’s pair of Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong as they are in the same quarter as top South Koreans Lee Yong-dae-Jung Jae-sung.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong open their campaign against Poles Robert Mateusiak-Michal Logosz and they have in the same half of the draw second seeds Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen, whom they beat to lift the Swiss Open title in March.
The odds are against world No. 1 women’s pair Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty to break past the quarter-finals as they are likely to face their nemesis — Lee Hyo-jung-Lee Kyung-won of South Korea. They Malaysians have yet to beat the Olympic silver medallists in seven matches thus far.
In the women’s singles, Wong Mew Choo has a first-round hurdle against Hwang Hye-youn of South Korea and will have to beat former world junior champion Wang Lin of China to reach the quarter-finals.
It will be a stiff second round test for Lydia Cheah as well as she is likely to play against world championships runners-up Wang Chen of Hong Kong.