Tuesday, July 17, 2018
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | KHALID REDZA
Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei can expect a bumpy start to his quest for a first World title when he tackles Brice Leverdez in the opening round of the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2018 in Nanjing, China.
The Men’s Singles second seed crashed out of last year’s World Championships to the Frenchman at the same stage, which signalled Lee’s earliest exit from the event following a series of silver medal-winning performances.
The Lee-Leverdez blockbuster was one of the many interesting early clashes that materialised when the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2018 Draw Ceremony was conducted at the BWF office in Kuala Lumpur today.
Reigning World champion Viktor Axelsen (Denmark) is seeded to face Olympic champion Chen Long (China) in the quarter-finals, while other Chinese big names such as Shi Yuqi and five-time champion Lin Dan might run into each other in the third round of the second quarter.
Asian champion Kento Momota (Japan), who is in red-hot form, is in the third quarter with Anders Antonsen (Denmark) and Son Wan Ho (Korea), while second seed Lee, India’s Kidambi Srikanth and recent TOYOTA Thailand Open winner Kanta Tsuneyama (Japan) are in the bottom quarter.
Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying – winner of four events this year – might have to contend with USA’s Beiwen Zhang in the third round, and China’s He Bingjiao or Canada’s Michelle Li in the quarter-finals. Reigning champion Nozomi Okuhara (Japan), could face either compatriot Aya Ohori or Malaysia’s Goh Jin Wei in the third round. A quarter-final clash against India’s Pusarla V Sindhu – against whom she triumphed in an epic World Championships final last year – is a distinct possibility.
Top seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, who have won four of their five events this season, are seeded to face Celcom Axiata Malaysia Open champions Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda (Japan) in the quarter-finals.
Defending World champions Liu Cheng/Zhang Nan (China) are seeded second and have a tricky road ahead, with the likelihood of facing Hong Kong’s Or Chin Chung/Tang Chun Man in the second round and Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe in the third.
Top seeds and defending champions Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan (China) have not won a tournament this season, and will look to redeem themselves at the World Championships at home. A third-round clash against compatriots Du Yue/Li Yinhui, followed by a quarter-final against TOYOTA Thailand Open champions Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu (Indonesia) is likely.
The feature of the Women’s Doubles draw is the presence of the top four Japanese pairs – including Olympic champions Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi and World Championships silver medallists Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota, who are in separate halves.
The category will see new champions, as winners of recent editions have either not entered the tournament or have retired. Top seeds Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong (China) will expect a tough challenge in the third round, as they are seeded to face Thailand Open winners Hafiz Faizal/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja (Indonesia).
Today’s Draw Ceremony was attended by Toshihiro Maki, Cultural Attache & Second Secretary from the Embassy of Japan; Cheng Xiangyang, Deputy Secretary-General, Director of Venue Operation and Director of Marketing of the World Championships 2018; Gillian Wu, Senior Advertising & Communications Executive, TOTAL Marketing & Services Asia Pacific & Middle East; and officials and players from the Badminton Association of Malaysia. BWF Referee Nahathai Sornprachum oversaw the draw process.
BWF Chief Operating Officer Stuart Borrie welcomed the guests and media and thanked the city of Nanjing for hosting the event. Toshihiro Maki, Stuart Borrie, Cheng Xiangyang, BWF Chair of Finance Committee Lim Teong Kiat, and Gillian Wu assisted in the electronic draw for the different categories.
Speaking of the Mixed Doubles draw, Olympic silver medallist Goh Liu Ying said she was confident of a strong showing.
“I’m happy with our performance at the BLIBLI Indonesia Open, where we reached the final,” said the Malaysian star.
“I hope our form continues through the World Championships and the Asian Games. We are on the right track and we are working hard in training.”
Her compatriots Tan Wee Kiong and Goh V Shem, who are seeded 13th in Men’s Doubles, expect to face team-mates Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi in the second round.
“We know each other’s style well,” said Tan. “To play your team-mates is more difficult than to play some other pairs. It will be harder than a normal game.”
The TOTAL BWF World Championships 2018 will be held from 30 July to 5 August.
FEATURED IMAGE: Guests at today’s Draw Ceremony.