Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s badminton superstar, Lee Chong Wei found himself in a slightly awkward position as he landed a really difficult draw in the Malaysia Open which will be held from June 26 to July 1 at Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.
Lee, who is bidding for his 12th Malaysia Open title after going down to Lin Dan in the final last year, has been drawn in the top half together with World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, Rio Olympic champion Chen Long of China, and the two-time Olympic champ Lin Dan of China.
First up, the 36-year-old Malaysian will play Kazumasa Sakai of Japan. He also has Lee Hyun Il of Korea in his quarter.
There’s a potential quarter-final against Viktor Axelsen, who is aiming for a revenge for his defeat to Lee at the recently concluded Thomas Cup.
Lin Dan is in the same quarter as the 2018 All England champion Shi Yuqi. He would have to get pass Shi in the second round before setting up a potential quarter-final against Chen Long.
The draw looks a little kinder to the red-hot Kento Momota, who has won a consecutive 17 match since winning the Vietnam International Challenge in March. Should Momota manage to overcome everybody in his half, he is going to set up an exciting final with one of the big guns from the top half.
In men’s doubles, Malaysia’s No. 1 pair Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong will open against Thailand’s Tinn Isriyanet/Kittisak Namdash before meeting Vladimir Ivanov/Ivan Sozonov of Russia in the second round.
The women’s draw also offers plenty of intriguing encounters in the first round, as top seed and defending champion Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan will play home player Soniia Cheah in the first round. Reigning World Champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan will face No. 5 seed Chen Yufei of China in a tough opener.
The 2018 Malaysia Open is a BWF World Tour Super 750 tournament that offers a total prize money of US$700,000.