KUALA LUMPUR: It is freezing in Seoul.
But Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei has vowed to raise the temperature in the Korean Open today in a bid to get off to a roaring start in the Year of the Tiger.
Today, he will take on England’s Andrew Smith and he has promised not to let his guard down.
“I started well and ended strongly last season. This year, I aim to do the same. A good start will put me in the right frame of mind ahead of more challenging tournaments this year,” he said.
“The weather is very cold as it is minus zero here. But it will be a challenge for me to do well despite the discomfort.”
Last year, the world number one got off to a brilliant start by winning the Malaysian Open and he ended his campaign by lifting the Super Series Masters Finals in Johor Baru.
This year, the Korean Open has taken over from the Malaysian Open as the opening leg of the Super Series. The Malaysian Open will be held next week at Putra Stadium from Jan 19-24.
Chong Wei lost to Peter-Gade Christensen of Denmark in the final last year but he has vowed to set the record straight this time.
“The Korean Open is one of the four Super Series titles still missing from my collection. I will go all out to nail it this time after last year’s miss,” Chong Wei said.
But it won’t be easy as he has an intimidating group of rivals in his quarter, including the likes of Germany’s Marc Zwiebler and Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana.
Chong Wei is expected to face China’s Chen Jin in the semi-finals.
Christensen is the second seed and will take on Malaysia’s back-up shuttler Chong Wei Feng, who is on a mission to stake a claim in the Thomas Cup squad this year.
But Christensen should progress and take on Park Sung-hwan of South Korea in the quarter-finals. If he makes it, he is likely to meet one of these China players – Bao Chunlai or Chen Long.
Chong Wei is the best bet for honours because the others – Kuan Beng Hong, Wei Feng and Tan Chun Seang – are not expected to go far.
Shuttler Wong Mew Choo, who is Malaysia’s sole woman representative in Seoul, has a tough task at hand to even make the quarter-finals. She is expected to meet Zhou Mi of Hong Kong in the second round.