Sunday, August 9, 2015
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
For Chen Long to succeed a second straight time at the World Championships, he might need some luck at badminton’s most popular venue.
The Istora Senayan has been the site of many a great battle, but – if past performances are any indicator – Chen hasn’t quite had the rub of the green at this venue. This year he fell in the quarter-finals to India’s Kashyap Parupalli – his vanquisher in the second round of the 2012 edition. Chen has also seen a couple of first round exits at the tournament, and he conceded that the conditions could be challenging.
“The hall is crowded and noisy, and there is a lot of pressure, but it is the same for all players,” Chen said.
Players like India’s HS Prannoy or Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen are likely quarter-final opponents, but Chen was guarded in his assessment of the draw.
“I was very happy with my first title last year in Copenhagen. It gave me a lot of confidence and I’m hoping to get my second title. I’ve prepared very well.”
The draw, significantly, saw his great rivals Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia) and Lin Dan (China) placed in the bottom half. Asked what he thought of Lee’s form during his comeback after eight months of missing the circuit, Chen said he expected Lee to reclaim his form of old.
“Lee Chong Wei hasn’t gone down; he’s still one of the best. He can maintain a high level if he wants to.”
If Chen gets past Axelsen or Prannoy, his semi-final opponent is seeded to be Japan’s Kento Momota. The young Japanese has enjoyed a rapid rise, winning both World Superseries finals he has figured in, and is favourite to make the cut from his quarter that includes Kashyap Parupalli (India), Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei) and Tommy Sugiarto (Indonesia).
No.2 seed Jan O Jorgensen (featured image) has a difficult draw as he might run into No.9 seed Son Wan Ho (Korea) in the third round and Lin Dan (China) in the quarter-finals. Son has had an uneventful time since winning the Hong Kong Open last year and could spring a few surprises if he finds form. The attention in this half, apart from Jorgensen, will be on Lin Dan and his great rival Lee Chong Wei. Lee’s potential rivals in his quarter are Marc Zwiebler (Germany), Wang Zhengming (China) and Kidambi Srikanth (India).
Jorgensen, though, a winner of the Indonesia Open last year and runner-up this year, can count on happy memories to propel himself into the final.