KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei is wasting no time switching his attention from the Indian Badminton League (IBL) to defending his title at the Japan Open from Sept 17-22.
While many would have taken a short break after 18 days of playing badminton in six Indian cities, the dedicated Chong Wei showed up for training at the Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara Monday.
“The IBL was a good experience for me and several other Malaysians. It was competitive but fun. The participation of eight Malaysian players also showed that we are marketable outside the country,” he said.
Besides Chong Wei, who was the highest paid player in the league at a price of US$135,000 (RM444,000), the other Malaysians were Chong Wei Feng, Liew Daren, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong.
“Now, my focus is on the Japan Open. There are only a few of us going for this Super Series and I hope to produce good results for the country,” he added.
Malaysia is only sending Chong Wei and top mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying for the Japan Open.
The others have been withdrawn from the tournament as Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff wants the coaches to justify their players’ participation in international tournaments before sending them out.
Chong Wei said that most of the players in the national team were downcast as they were in the dark over their future tournaments with the national team.
“The morale of some players is quite low as they are uncertain of which tournaments they will get to go for. Everything is at a standstill right now for them. There is nothing I can do because this is the directive from the association,” said Chong Wei.
“Our new president is working on some plans and I guess all my teammates will just have to wait and see.”
On his challenge in Japan, Chong Wei knows that he will have to be in a good physical condition to face two strong title contenders – second seed Chen Long and third seed Du Pengyu of China.
If all goes according to the form book, Chong Wei may meet Chen Long in the final. In their previous meeting at the All-England in Birmingham in March, Chen Long beat Chong Wei in the final.
Chong Wei said he was determined to make up for his disappointment of losing to Lin Dan of China in the men’s singles final of the World Championships in Guangzhou last month. He hopes to make a quick rebound and win his fifth Super Series title in Japan after pocketing the Opens in Malaysia, South Korea, India and Indonesia.