Thursday, November 6, 2008

Top Badminton Player Will Be In Johor

PETALING JAYA: The return of the country’s top shuttlers to the national badminton circuit is set to spice things up in the Johor Open, which will begin in Johor Baru on Tuesday.
The Johor Open is the second leg of the national badminton circuit and it is crucial for the shuttlers to compete in Johor or they will miss out on the National Grand Prix Finals to be held in Alor Star next month.
The top players skipped the first leg in Penang, which was held at the end of August — just after the Beijing Olympics.
Heading the list of entries is world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, who is expected to be the top drawcard for the organisers in Johor Baru.
Chong Wei did not compete in the first leg and needs to play in Johor Baru if he wants to win a record-breaking seventh men’s singles national title.
Chong Wei equalled Misbun’s record of six national titles when he triumphed in Alor Star earlier this year and had stated his desire to go one better than his current coach despite a busy international calendar.
The organisers have gone out of their way to accommodate the top players by scheduling the Johor Open to end on Friday instead of the usual Sunday.
This is because most of the national shuttlers will have to leave over the weekend for the China Open, which will begin the following week in Shanghai.
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) team manager How Kim Tho said a player will need to secure a semi-final appearance in the Johor Open to confirm a place in the National Grand Prix Finals.
“The top singles players, like Chong Wei and Wong Mew Choo, did not compete in the Penang Open. Our former top men’s doubles pair Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah and women’s doubles pair Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty had also skipped the Penang Open. They must now compete in Johor to be eligible for the National Grand Prix Finals,” said Kim Tho.
“We only have two legs of the national badminton circuit because most of the players are committed to the international tournaments because of the Olympic campaign.”
But a semi-final appearance should not be a problem for Chong Wei, who has been undefeated in the local circuit since 2002.
The only question is whether second seed Mohd Hafiz Hashim can make it to the final to face Chong Wei. Hafiz could face stiff tests from the younger players, like Mohd Arif Abdul Latif and Tan Chun Seang, in his half of the draw.
In the men’s doubles, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong could also be given a run for their money by former national top pair Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng and the newly-crowned world junior champions Mak Hee Chun-Teo Kok Siang.

The Star

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