LEE Chong Wei hopes a third All England title in Birmingham will give him the extra edge and motivation to become Malaysia’s first world champion in August.
The World No 1’s hat-trick bid last year was halted by a shoulder injury midway through the second game in the final against China’s Lin Dan but the five-time champion has been missing from competition since winning the Olympic gold in London.
Chong Wei opens his campaign against Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki today before a second-round meeting with China’s Wang Zhengming and can then expect another smooth encounter against Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh in the quarter-finals.
Barring upsets, the top seed is expected to meet China’s Du Pengyu, the third seed, in the last four before an expected title showdown with World No 2 Chen Long in the final.
"I will take it one match at a time and hopefully justify my seeding," said Chong Wei.
"Lin Dan is not around but China still have two young shuttlers who have been playing well.
"If I can include my possible second round opponent (Wang Zhengming), that will be three China players and this does not make it any easier for me."
Besides Lin Dan, Chen Long is the only player to have enjoyed regular success over Chong Wei in the last three years — winning five of their 12 meetings while Pengyu has a solitary win in eight matches.
In other first-round matches today, World No 12 Liew Daren takes on fifth seed Chen Jin while Chong Wei Feng plays Danish shuttler Jan O Jorgensen.
While Chong Wei is expected to breeze past his early opponents, his compatriots are likely to struggle.
Liew Daren, a quarter-finalist last year, has been struggling to produce a good result of late. His only decent showing since since winning his first Super Series title in France last October, was a quarter-final appearance in the recent Malaysian Open.
RESULTS — All England Qualifying: Men’s singles — Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif bt Scott Evans (Irl) 13-21, 21-9, 21-12; Zulfadli Zulkifli bt Suppanyu Avihingsanon (Tha) 22-20 21-15; Tan Chun Seang bt Dieter Domke (Ger) 21-18 15-21 21-15.
Women’s singles — Kirsty Gilmour (Scot) bt Tee Jing Yi 15-21, 21-14, 21-16.