Paris: Over the past few years, the badminton scene has been dominated by mostly Lee Chong Wei, Lin Dan, and sometimes Chen Long.
However, the struggle of either Lee Chong Wei or Lin Dan in recent tournaments has been mirrored by Chen Long’s dominance and Viktor Axelsen’s rise.
Lee Chong Wei who is eager to regain his form, is set to return to action at French Open that kicks off the qualifying and first round of mixed doubles on Tuesday. Lee faces a tough path in his quest to successfully win this year’s French Open crown, with No. 1 seed Chen Long and No. 7 seed Viktor Axelsen were drawn in the same half. The Malaysian opens his campaign against Brice Leverdez of France in the first round. He could face either Viktor Axelsen or Wei Nan in the second round. Both Axelsen and Wei are a tough nut to crack, simply because Axelsen managed to hand Lin Dan his worst career defeat in the quarter-finals of Denmark Open last week, while Wei Nan pulled off an upset to beat Lee in the second round of Denmark Open. A mouth-watering clash against Chen Long awaits Lee Chong Wei if he makes it all the way to the semi-finals.
On the contrary, Lin Dan gets a slightly favorable draw as he will take on No. 6 seed Chou Tien Chen in the quarter-finals, with a possible semi-final encounter against No. 2 seed Jan Jorgensen or No. 5 seed Kidambi Srikanth. Chou Tien Chen who dispatched Lin in the Chinese Taipei Open semi-finals, poses a serious threat to the two time Olympic Champion before the semi-finals.
Three days after his uplifting victory in the Denmark Open finals against Tommy Sugiarto, the No. 1 seed Chen Long is going to start his French Open campaign against Tommy Sugiarto again. Unless Tommy Sugiarto change his game style drastically, otherwise his style of playing that resembles Lee Chong Wei a lot, could barely trouble Chen Long as he already familiar with this kind of plays, and can easily neutralize Sugiarto’s shots.
Viktor Axelsen’s win over Lin Dan and a particularly tough fight against Chen Long at the Denmark Open last week offered a hint at things to come. His ability to beat the best, serving notice to the badminton world that the rising stars were ready to establish himself among the elite.
It will be interesting to see what happens to Saina Nehwal and Carolina Marin in the women’s singles at French Open, whether they could bounce back from their early-exits at Denmark Open.
Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong who won Swiss International on Sunday, will get a chance to test their game at a very competitive level in Paris. They will face No. 1 seeds Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong should they reach quarter-finals. Other Malaysian pair Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong will clash with No. 6 seeds Chai Biao/Hong Wei in the opener, and could potentially face No. 3 seeds Fu Haifeng/Zhang Nan in the quarter-finals.