By RAJES PAUL
THE rules have changed and the competition will become more challenging. But for Malaysian number one Lee Chong Wei, the objective remains the same to win the title. If he succeeds, it will be his fourth consecutive Malaysian Open title.
The 25-year-old Chong Wei hopes that a good showing at home will put him on the right track in his bid to justify his status as one of the best players in the world.
The Malaysian Open is the first leg of a 12-tournament Super Series and it begins today at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium with the qualifying tournament.
Chong Wei, who begins his campaign tomorrow against Bjoern Joppien of Germany, said that the Malaysian Open would be a sneak preview of what to expect from the Super Series tournaments this year.
|All eyes: Denmarks doubles players Jens Eriksen (left) and Martin Lungaard in action during the teams training session at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium yesterday. MOHD SAHAR / THE STAR|
Except for the absence of South Korean number one Lee Hyun-il and doubts over the participation of world number five Peter Gade-Christensen of Denmark, Chong Wei feels that the same top players who have gathered in Malaysia will stake strong challenges in the inaugural Series.
New rules have been introduced to make the Super Series more interesting. But I reckon the same top players here will continue to dominate and it is unlikely that new faces will emerge this year, said Chong Wei.
After playing second fiddle to players like Lin Dan of China and Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia, Chong Wei is hoping for a change of fortunes.
I want to produce good results consistently this year. It is not only about winning titles at home but also striking in major tournaments outside the country. I have to start winning regularly against players like Lin Dan and Taufik, he said.
Chong Wei will only get to play against Lin Dan or Taufik in the final. One of them will be eliminated in the first round tomorrow.
However, Chong Wei hopes that teammates Mohd Hafiz Hashim, Wong Choong Hann and Kuan Beng Hong will not leave him alone to battle for honours.
The pressure is great on me to win the Malaysian Open for the fourth time. Everyone is asking me whether I can do it. I can only tell them that I will give it my best shot, he said.
While there is unlikely to be a change of guards among the top mens singles player, the Malaysian Open may set some of the younger pairs on the road to establish themselves. And former national doubles ace Jalani Sidek sees a wide-open race in the event.
There is no dominant pair in the field. The Malaysian Open could be the start for some to prove that they will be the consistent ones this year, said Jalani.
I hope that our Asian Games champions (Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong) will use the home ground advantage to establish themselves. They have the talent.
|Looking ahead: Denmarks Kenneth Jonassen doing push-ups during a training session yesterday.|
Also in the fray are veterans Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah and four other Malaysian pairs who are out to make their presence felt on the world stage Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Lin Woon Fui, Mohd Zakry Latif-Gan Teik Chai, Chan Chong Ming-Hoon Thien How and Ong Soon Hock-Tan Bin Shen.
The other pairs who are poised to make a bigger impact this year are South Koreans Lee Yong-dae-Jung Jae-sung, Chinas Guo Zhengdong-Xie Zhongbo and Indonesians Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan.
Malaysian won the mens doubles title last year through Kien Keat-Chong Ming.
(source: The Star Online)