KUALA LUMPUR: China’s much talked about former world junior boys’ singles champion Wang Zhengming suffered a first round knockout in the German Open in Mulheim on Wednesday.
But one should not be fooled by the 22-year-old’s stuttering start.
National coach Tey Seu Bock has warned world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei to be wary of Zhengming when they meet in the opening round of the All-England in Birmingham on Wednesday.
“On paper, Chong Wei should win but Zhengming is not a pushover. This youngster has nothing to lose and will go all out – especially after his setback at the German Open,” said Seu Bock.
Chong Wei has won all his past four meetings with Zhengming. But in their last clash at the Japan Open last year, the Malaysian was stretched before winning 21-14, 21-19 in the second round.
“Zhengming may not be a contender for the All-England title yet but I see him as one of China’s future stars. He has the killer shot and with more experience and training, he can become China’s top player one day.”
If two-time All-England champion Chong Wei gets past Zhengming, he takes on the winner of the match between Indonesian Simon Santoso and Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus.
Chong Wei’s third-round opponent could be one of these three tricky players – Japanese Sho Sasaki, Du Pengyu of China and Dane Jan O Jorgensen.
Seu Bock believes Pengyu is in better shape than Zhengming.
“Pengyu is a hard-hitter and will fight for every point although he’s not as skilful as Zhengming. So, he should not be under-estimated,” said Seu Bock.
The others in the top half with Chong Wei, Zhengming and Pengyu are seasoned campaigners Peter-Gade Christensen of Denmark, South Korean Lee Hyun-il and Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana.
The lower half of the draw sees a stiffer competition with three top Chinese players – four-time world champion and second seed Lin Dan, Chen Long and Chen Jin in the fray.
Although all the players are expected to go all out especially with the Olympic Games qualifying period coming to an end on April 29, Seu Bock is still confident of Chong Wei striking a hat-trick.
“He has done well this year to win the Malaysia and South Korea Opens. He is prepared and his condition is good. Prior to the All-England, he had done his part to help the team at the Thomas Cup qualifying tournament in Macau and also support the local tournament at the Selangor Open. Despite all these, he is still all focused in accomplishing his task in Birmingham,” said Seu Bock.
“We will not be heartbroken if he does not win at the All-England as our priority is still the Olympics. If he wins for the third time, then, it will be a bonus for him and a good record for the country.”
The only other Malaysian to have won the All-England for three straight years is the late Wong Peng Soon from 1950-1952.