PETALING JAYA: A possible showdown in the semi-finals between world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and Olympic champion Lin Dan sets the stage for a thrilling Indonesian Open badminton championships in Jakarta from June 16-21.
Both players skipped the Indonesian Open last year to concentrate on preparing for the Beijing Olympics but this time, they have committed themselves to the event, which will be held back-to-back to the Singapore Open from June 9-14.
Their presence in the Indonesian Open is no surprise because it is the last Super Series tournament offering ranking points to the World Championships in Hyderabad from Aug 10-16.
Lin Dan has dropped to third spot in the latest world rankings behind Dane Peter-Gade Christensen and Chong Wei. And the two-time world champion will be playing in a Super Series tournament as the third seed for the first time and in the draw yesterday, he found himself in the same half as Chong Wei.
Chong Wei opens against German Marc Zwiebler and he has in his quarter fellow Malaysian Mohd Hafiz Hashim, Bao Chunlai of China and Simon Santoso of Indonesia.
It will also not be easy sailing for Lin Dan. He has a tricky first-round match against Indonesian Andre Kurniawan Tedjono in a quarter comprising fellow Chinese Chen Jin.
Malaysia’s former number one Wong Choong Hann plays against a qualifier in the first round in the other half of the draw and faces the prospect of having to beat local favourite and fourth seed Sony Dwi Kuncoro next to advance to the quarter-finals.
In the same half are Indonesian Taufik Hidayat and second seed Christensen.
National chief coach Rashid Sidek said that it would be a very interesting Indonesian Open this year.
“Lin Dan has been selective of tournaments he plays in and he surely wants to do well in the Indonesian Open to get back into second place in the rankings,” he said.
“It will be a tough Indonesian Open to win as all the top players will be present in their bid to improve on their rankings to get a better seeding for the world championships.
“Chong Wei has to maintain his performance going into the world championships and it will be a good test for him.”
Rashid is taking charge of Chong Wei in the absence of Misbun Sidek, who is in China for more than a month now to take care of his wife, who has undergone a kidney transplant. Misbun should be back before the end of the month.
Likewise, the men’s doubles have also attracted a full field and Malaysians Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong have to be on top of their game if they harbour hopes of going far.
The duo are the third seed and they are in the same half of the draw as Chinese No. 1 Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng and Danes Carsten Mogensen-Mathias Boe.
Defending champions Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif and veterans Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah, seeded fourth and eighth respectively, have a tough campaign ahead in a half having top seeds and Olympic champions Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia.
The top Malaysian women’s pair of Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty, who are the top seeds, must be cursing their luck. As in the preceding Singapore Open, they found themselves in the same quarter as top Koreans Lee Hyo-jung-Lee Kyung-won, whom they have yet to beat in seven meetings.
Wong Mew Choo is the only Badminton Association of Malaysia representative for the women’s singles and she faces an uphill task of getting past the second round against top seed Zhou Mi of Hong Kong.