MALAYSIA can hope for more than one title in the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold championships, which begin today at the Bandaraya Stadium here.
Elite shuttlers Lee Chong Wei, Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty and Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong are in good form. But it will be more meaningful if the top national women’s singles shuttler, Wong Mew Choo, emerges as one of the winners on Sunday.
Mew Choo, who is coming out of injuries, has been lying low while the other Malaysians have had their share of taking the limelight.
In the Indonesia Open last week, Chong Wei and Eei Hui-Pei Tty lived up to their status as world No. 1s to win the men’s singles and women’s doubles titles respectively.
And although the men’s pair of Kien Keat-Boon Heong have not won any title since their success at the Swiss Open in March, they have been showing steady improvement. In the Indonesia Open, they gave a good fight against China’s Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng before bowing out in the semi-finals.
National singles coach Misbun Sidek hopes to see Mew Choo soaring high again after having struggled to regain her form.
“It is never easy to make a comeback from injuries. Mew Choo is going through that phase but she is a fighter,” said Misbun.
“She gave good performances at the Sudirman Cup (in May at Guangzhou) but found the going tough in the last two Super Series tournaments (suffering first-round defeats in Singapore and Indonesia). In fact, she has not won any major titles since her spectacular victory in the 2007 China Open.
“Mew Choo’s career in badminton may last until the Asian Games (in Guangzhou) next year. Her time is limited and I hope that she will come good here.
“If she does well, she will certainly feel good about herself ahead of the world championships (in India from Aug 10-16).”
Barring any upsets, the fourth seeded Mew Choo is expected to meet Indonesia Open champion Saina Nehwal of India in the quarter-finals.
“Saina has achieved what Mew Choo did two years ago,” said Misbun.
“She has beaten several top players from China. I hope a match between Mew Choo and Saina will materialise here … it will be interesting to see how they fare against each other.”
Besides Saina, the other top contenders for the title are top seed Pi Hongyan and third seed Zhu Lin of China.
On Chong Wei’s challenge, Misbun said: “He has been coping well thus far. Many juniors will be out to get him here and it will be another challenge for him to justify his top billing in the tournament.”
Barring any upsets, Chong Wei is drawn to play against Indonesian Taufik Hidayat, who he beat to win the Indonesia Open title last Sunday.
With the top players from China, South Korea and Indonesia skipping the tournament, there is a good opportunity for Kien Keat-Boon Heong and Eei Hui-Pei Tty to nail their second Open title this year.