Sydney: After winning his sixth Indonesia Open title last Sunday, Malaysian badminton superstar Lee Chong Wei who is looking to continue his winning momentum at the Australian Open which starts on Tuesday, has decided to withdraw from the tournament at the last minute.
In the Indonesia Open final, Lee fought back from dropping the first set to roar past No. 5 seed Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark 17-21, 21-19, 21-17 in a 70 minutes thriller.
The Indonesian Open title was Lee’s fourth titles this season after winning the Malaysia Masters in January, Malaysia Open Super Series Premier in April and the Asian Championships in China last month.
Expressing his high level of optimism towards Lee Chong Wei, Technical Director of Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) Morten Frost Hansen has reassured that if Lee Chong Wei continue to perform well, he has a good chance of winning a gold in Rio.
“If Chong Wei can win the Australian Open this week, it’ll be a big boost for him prior to the Rio Olympics,” said Frost prior to Lee’s withdrawal.
Korea’s qualifier Heo Kwang Hee will replace Lee Chong Wei to set up first round clash with Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie.
In addtion to Lee, the Australian Open has lost some star power following the pre-tournament withdrawal of several top shuttlers such as Lin Dan of China, Jan Jorgensen and Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.
Other Malaysia’s men’s singles shuttlers such as national champion Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, independent shuttler Zulfadli Zulkiffli; men’s doubles pairs such as Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong, Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong, Lee Yan Sheng/Lin Woon Fui and Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayup/Jagdish Singh will also be in action in Sydney.
The Australian Badminton Open offers lucrative prize pool of $750,000.