THE draw suggests it could be a triumphant return for Lee Chong Wei in the Japan Open after a deserving break from the London Olympics but coaches are not expecting fireworks from the World No 2 during the Sept 18-23 tournament.
Chong Wei, in the absence of China’s two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, is the top seed and is tipped to meet Olympic bronze medallist Chen Long, the second seed, in the final.
The challenge also looks thin as Chong Wei will meet Wong Wing Ki of Hong Kong in the first round, Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam or China’s Wang Zhengming in the second, and another of China’s players Du Pengyu in the last eight.
A semi-final against either Kenichi Tago of Japan or Danish veteran Peter Gade Christensen will not pose any threat, so Chong Wei will be the favourite against Chen Long whom he destroyed in the semi-finals of the London Games last month.
However, national singles coach Tey Seu Bock said Chong Wei had gone through a tough period in his build-up to the Olympics and will take a light approach to the Japan Open. "Of course Chong Wei wants to win the Japan Open but for the first time in so many years he will not be under pressure. He is just coming back after enduring a tough period and he will take his time to start setting new targets again," said Seu Bock.
Chong Wei has also been playing in the China Super League the last few days and has already skipped the China Masters which begin on Tuesday.
Seu Bock hinted that Chong Wei, 30, is still good enough to win Super Series tournaments but will not be in contention in every event that he plays.
Liew Daren made it to the main draw where he will meet Taiwan’s Chou Tien Chen while Chong Wei Feng will play Sho Sasaki of Japan in the first round.
Underfire men’s doubles Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong are in danger of making a first-round exit as they will meet South Koreans Kim Ki Jung-Kim Sa Rang, and if they survive, will be up against Indonesia’s new combination of Markis Kido-Alvent Yulianto. Bogey pair Hong Wei-Shen Ye of China await them in the last eight if they advance that far.
Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying get a golden chance of making the most of the absence of top China, Denmark and Indonesia pairs who have taken a break after the Olympics.
Peng Soon-Liu Ying are top-seeded for the first time in a Super Series event and the Japan Open provides them with a good chance of bouncing back from a disastrous London Games where they lost all their group matches in straight games.