TOKYO – Badminton’s world number one, Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, said on Tuesday he has been selective about his competition schedule despite worries at home that he has been playing too much.
"Indeed, I have been playing in so many tournaments," the 30-year-old said in Tokyo on the eve of the $200,000 Japan Open, the eighth leg in the 12-round World Superseries.
"But I have adjusted the number of tournaments I play," he said through an interpreter, noting that he skipped the last Superseries event, the $250,000 China Masters in Changzhou last week.
"As I have said every year, the Japan Open is the most important tournament for me as it is an event of my biggest sponsor," he said, referring to a Japanese sportswear and gear maker.
Lee, who has already won the Opens in South Korea, Malaysia,India and Indonesia, is going for a record fourth Japan Open men’s singles title.
Then he will have a two-week stint in the Chinese Super League for Guangzhou before taking part in the remaining four Superseries events in Denmark,France, Hong Kong and China (China Open?.
"I am at my peak for this tournament," Lee said. "I will work hard to win again, living up to the reputation of the defending champion."
Lee will meet world number two Chen Long of China in the Japan Open final, if both sweep all before them in their blocks of the event.
At their last clash Chen beat Lee in the All-England final in March.
Lee was stretchered from the court during last month’s world championships final against his archrival, China’s Lin Dan, with cramp and dehydration.
Badminton officials at home urged him afterwards to cut down his schedule.
"He should not participate in too many tournaments," said Zolkples Embong, Malaysia’s national sports council director-general, adding that Lee should focus on the 2016 Olympics and next year’s Asian Games.
But Lee, still without a world or Olympic title despite consistently topping the rankings, went on to play several matches in the lucrative new Indian Badminton League in late August.