ASIAN GAMES 2010 MS Preview – Counting on Lee-Lin final

With world no. 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia and no. 3 Lin Dan of China in different halves of the draw, legions of fans are hoping to see these […]

With world no. 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia and no. 3 Lin Dan of China in different halves of the draw, legions of fans are hoping to see these two giants fight for the gold medal at the individual men’s singles final in Guangzhou, while the rest of the field guns for upsets.

By Timothy Chan, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

The Famous Ones

Should the mighty Lee Chong Wei (pictured) meet Lin Dan in the final, it will be their head-to-head 22nd encounter, with Lin Dan having won 14 times compared to Lee’s 7 wins.  Lin Dan will be looking forward for revenge after having lost to Lee in their latest encounter about a month ago at the Super Series Japan Open.  Lin Dan will also not forget he has an old score to settle with Taufik, who beat the then-world #1 and newly crowned World Champion at the previous in Doha.  Furthermore, Lin, who has already tasted golden successes since Doha at the Olympics and at two more World Championships, will want to add this elusive gold medal to his collection.

The men’s singles event should be an exciting and action-packed one, as 4 of the world top 5 players, of them will be competing at Asian Games the other two being Chen Jin of China (No. 4), Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia (No. 5).  In the top half of the draw, probably Chen Jin has the best chance of preventing a Lee-Lin final, should he meet Lee in the semi-final.  However, it could be an uphill task for Chen, as he doesn’t seem to do well against Lee, having won only twice in their 9 encounters.

Chen will also be the first contender to take on Lee Hyun Il, who has retired twice since Doha, when he beat both Chong Wei and Lin Dan in the team competition before settling for bronze in the individual.

Another player who could show Lee Chong Wei the exit as early as the quarter-final is world no. 10 Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand, if only he can cause an upset.  Lee had favourably beaten Boonsak 10 times and lost only twice to him.

As for the bottom half of the draw, it promises to be just as tough a battle, though Lin Dan (pictured) is the clear favourite.  Although Taufik stands in Lin Dan’s way for the semi-final stage, Lin hasn’t lost even a game to the Indonesian in the four years since the Doha final.

According to CBA’s website, Lin Dan told a reporter at their training session in preparation for Asia Games, that he longer wants to mention or comment on names of which opponent he wants to meet in the individual event.   Only after the men’s team event will he think about the individual matches, which will likely begin for Lin against Hong Kong’s Hu Yun (pictured below).

Also in the bottom half of the draw, Malaysia’s Hafiz Hashim has in his quarter defending champion Taufik Hidayat, South Korean Park Sung Hwan and Japan’s Kenichi Tago to deal with.

“I may meet Park or Tago in the second round.  My aim is to try to win at least a bronze and it will be very tough indeed,” Hafiz was quoted in the BAM’s website.

The Unknown Ones

Besides the who’s-who list of seeded players, fans at Guangzhou will also get to witness those rather unknown ones in main draw action.  It is mainly at these big events like the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games and now the Asian Games that the players from Nepal, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Maldives are not relegated to qualifying rounds or team withdrawals and really get to try their hand on the big stage with the world’s best.

It will be interesting to see how they attain some respectable scores as they pit their skills against their stronger opponents. One of such players to watch will be Niluka Karunaratne (pictured) of Sri Lanka, who will be playing in the first round against northern neighbour Chetan Anand of India, whom Niluka pushed to three games earlier this year.

Nepal’s Sajan Krishna Tamrakar, who snatched the men’s singles title at the Nepal Police 2nd National Open Badminton Championship in Kathmandu last month, will not have it easy in his opening match against Lee Hyun Il of South Korea. Other unknown ones also include Enkhbat Olonbayar of Mongolia, Bikash Shrestha of Nepal, Dinuka Karunaratna of Sri Lanka, Sharim Sharim and Ajfaan Ajfaan (very interesting names) of Maldives and Yara Azad Abdulhamid of Iraq.  They would have to play extremely well to create any shocking results at the Asian Games but hopefully some deserving should can work hard to stir up some happening news even if the Games are destined to end in a coronation for Lin or Lee.

First round matches of note:

Park Sung Hwan (KOR) vs. Tago Kenichi (JPN)

Parupalli Kashyap (IND) vs. Nguyen Tien Minh (VIE)

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