CHEN LONG is fresh. Lin Dan is wounded. Chen Jin (pic) wants an Olympic ticket — badly.
But World No. 1 and reigning champion Lee Chong Wei is ready to derail the Chinese trio’s Olympic mission at the Maybank Malaysia Open, which begins today with the qualifying tournament at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Buoyed by his sensational win over Lin Dan in the final of the Korea Open in Seoul on Sunday, Chong Wei is all pumped up to nail his eighth home title to provide more cheer for the home fans.
“The Malaysia Open is always special to me and I am determined to maintain my good run here,” said Chong Wei, who returned home from Seoul yesterday.
The top seeded Malaysian is in the same half as World No. 3 and third seed Chen Long and there is a huge possibility that the duo will clash in the semi-finals.
Chen Long, who is well rested after conceding a walkover in the first round of the Korea Open, had beaten Chong Wei three times last year – at the finals of the Japan and Denmark Opens and the semi-final of World Superseries Finals in Liuzhou last month.
If Chong Wei lives up to his seeding, he may take on World No. 2 Lin Dan or former world champion Chen Jin in the final. Barring any upsets, Lin Dan and Chen Jin are expected to clash in the quarter-finals.
But it is uncertain which Lin Dan will show up for the Open which he has never won before. The Olympic Games are China’s priority and they are intent on having their three top players vying for gold in the men’s singles in London.
As such, four-time world champion Lin Dan may concede a walkover to Chen Jin to enable him to collect valuable points to move up to fourth in the world rankings. A country can have a maximum of three players for the singles at the Olympics if all of them are ranked in the top four.
At the Malaysia Open last year, Lin Dan conceded a walkover to Chen Long in the last eight much to the disappointment of the fans who had wanted to see the China superstar play Chong Wei in the final.
But Lin Dan may want to avenge the Seoul defeat and end his barren run on Malaysian soil. He hinted as much on arriving in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
“I am here to win the Malaysia Open for the first time,” declared Lin Dan. “The Seoul outing was tiring but I will be ready as I want to make up for that defeat by Chong Wei in the final.”
Chong Wei is just as determined to extend his reign as champion.
“These are the same players I may meet in the Olympic Games. It will be good if I can beat them, especially Chen Long, after losing to him in Liuzhou,” he said.
National coach Tey Seu Bock said Chen Long had conserved his energy and would be in full throttle in KL.
”No reasons were given for his first round walkover in Seoul. We didn’t see him after that except for the final between Chong Wei and Lin Dan,” said Seu Bock.
”The players from China are doing their best to break Chong Wei’s confidence before the Olympics because they see him as their biggest threat. Despite the psychological war that is going on, I am proud that Chong Wei keeps showing that he is mentally strong enough to deal with it.”
Despite the focus on Chong Wei and the triple threat from China, Seu Bock also sees Peter-Gade Christensen of Denmark, Simin Santoso of Indonesia, Lee Hyun-il of South Korea and Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia as spoilers.
But what the China players will do remains the intriguing conundrum of the Open.