KUALA LUMPUR: A swollen finger has ruled out world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei from the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold starting today at the Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara.
In his absence, national singles coach Tey Seu Bock has challenged the other men’s singles hopefuls to step up and keep Malaysia’s good tradition going in the GP Gold.
Since its inception in 2009, Chong Wei has made the tournament his own by winning on all four occasions.
Seu Bock said Chong Wei picked up the injury en route to beating Kenichi Tago of Japan in the final of the India Open in New Delhi on Sunday.
It was Chong Wei’s second India Open title and third Super Series crown for the season after winning in Malaysia and South Korea.
“He went for a dive to save an attacking shot from Tago and hurt his third finger. In his excitement and keen on winning, Chong Wei had not felt any pain during the match. He only realised his finger was swollen as we were scrambling to catch the flight back home after the final,” said Seu Bock.
“It is not serious but I have advised him to skip the tournament. It is a risk to play with an injured finger. Chong Wei enjoys playing at home. He considers it an honour. Unfortunately, he has to withdraw because of this minor setback,” he added.
Seu Bock now hopes the other Malaysians – Liew Daren, Mohd Arif Abdul Latif and Chong Wei Feng – will take the opportunity to prevent the title from falling into the hands of the foreign legion.
“This is a chance for the other Malaysian players to show that they can also produce results even if Chong Wei is not around,” said Seu Bock.
“In fact, this a challenge for them. I believe in them but I hope that they believe that they can make a breakthrough. Besides, the field has been weakened with several withdrawals and this is the best opportunity to nick it.”
Besides top seed Chong Wei, Indonesia’s top two players – second seed Sony Dwi Kuncoro and sixth seed Simon Santoso – have also pulled out.
With Sony and Simon out, third seed Daren will have a smoother passage to the final from the bottom half. In his quarter are China’s Chen Yuekun, Indonesia’s Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka and Thailand’s Suppanyu Avihingsanon.
The spotlight will be on Arif and Wei Feng in the absence of Chong Wei in the top half. The duo may take on each other in the third round and the others with a shot of going into the final are All-England semi-finalist Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand, Indonesian Tommy Sugiarto and South Korean Lee Dong-keun.
The other Malaysians with the potential of ruffling some feathers are former world junior champion Zulfadli Zulkifli, Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin and Goh Soon Huat.