BY RAJES PAUL
PETALING JAYA: The 50th edition of the Malaysian Open Badminton Championships is set for an explosive start with world champion Lin Dan of China up against Olympic and Asian Games gold medallist Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia in the first round of the mens singles competition.
|Formidable foes: The Malaysian Open badminton tournament could not have asked for a more explosive opener a clash between Lin Dan (left) and Taufik Hidayat. |
In the draw released yesterday for the US,000 championships, which begin with the qualifying tournament on Tuesday at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium (KLBA) in Cheras, the top two Malaysian players, Lee Chong Wei and Mohd Hafiz Hashim, found themselves in the same half of the draw.
The Malaysian Open is the opening leg of the inaugural Super Series, which limits seedings to the top eight in a 32-entry draw. And the Badminton World Federations (BWF) decision not to apply the national separation ruling has set up intriguing early round battles.
The top-seeded Lin Dan, who is chasing an elusive Malaysian Open title, will get an early opportunity to avenge the defeat by Taufik in the final of the Doha Asian Games last month. Taufik, who is ranked 12th in the world, is unseeded.
Three-time champion Chong Wei, who is seeded second, greeted the first-round match between Lin Dan and Taufik with delight.
It is good that one of them will have to make an early exit. It is one fewer hurdle for me to worry about, said the 24-year-old Chong Wei.
But Chong Wei has a big stumbling block in his path to the semi-finals. He is expected to meet World Championships runner-up Bao Chunlai of China in the quarter-finals.
I still remember the defeat by Chunlai in the quarter-finals of the world meet in Madrid last year. It will be good if I get to avenge the defeat in front of my home supporters, he said.
Chong Wei will take on Bjoern Joppien of Germany in the first round. Victory will give him a second round match against Japanese Shoji Sato or Polands Wacha Przemyslaw.
There is a possibility for me to meet Hafiz (the world number 10) in the semi-finals. Previously, the top two players from a country go to different halves of the draw, he said.
I find it unfair but this is the new ruling. The consolation is that I will not be meeting him (the unseeded Hafiz) in the early rounds.
Hafiz has a first-round match against Chinese veteran Chen Hong and he also has a Chinese youngster, Chen Jin, in the same quarter.
Denmarks top two players Peter Gade-Christensen and Kenneth Jonassen were drawn in the top half and could meet in the semi-finals.
The likely high hurdle for Gade-Christensen is a projected quarter-final against Chinas Chen Yu. Jonassen is expected to play against the winner of the match between Lin Dan and Taufik for a place in the semi-finals.
(source: TheStar Online)