Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia is ready to trade his world number one ranking to prepare for two major tournaments – next year’s Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.
"I had a week of treatment before coming here and everything is fine," said Lee, after sailing through the first round of the Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open yesterday, beating Kidambi Srikanth of India 21-18, 21-14.
"But I will play less on the tour next year to gain more rest as I have to prepare for the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. I will need to avoid aggravating my ankle injury that sustained in May last year.
"I will decide with my coach what tournaments I will play and, although playing less may affect my world ranking, it is not so important as I have occupied the world number one spot for more than four years now.
"Other than just playing, there is also travel involved on the tour, which puts a lot of pressure on me, mentally and physically," he said.
The 12th and last Super Series of the year, the US$350,000 Hong Kong Open saw several withdrawals due to injuries. Defending men’s singles champion Chen Long of China pulled out yesterday after suffering an elbow inflammation, while mixed doubles third seed Ma Jin also withdrew over pulled calf muscles.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hu Yun moved a step closer to the Super Series finals after advancing to the men’s singles second round with a 21-23, 21-12, 21-18 victory over Kento Momota of Japan. Hu is ninth in the Super Series rankings, with only the top eight qualifying for the finals to be held in Kuala Lumpur next month.
In the women’s singles, defending champion and world number one Li Xuerui of China had a scare after losing the first game to little known Gu Juan of Singapore, but the mainlander came back strongly to finish with a 9-21, 21-11, 21-7 win.
Fast improving Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand, who beat Li in the world championships final in Guangzhou in August, also reached the second round with a 21-16, 21-17 win over P.V. Sindhu of India.
There was no such luck for Hong Kong’s top player Yip Pui-yin, who lost 23-21, 22-24, 21-9 to Minatsu Mitani of Japan.