KUALA LUMPUR: Shuttler Lee Chong Wei could not have asked for a better draw.
The unseeded Chong Wei will avoid three top stars – China’s Chen Long and Lin Dan; and Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen – in the early rounds of the World Championships.
Based on the draw released by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Tuesday, Chong Wei will face Lithuania’s Kestutis Navickas in the opening round of the world meet in Jakarta from Aug 10-16.
The others in his quarter are third seed K. Srikanth of India, eighth seed Wang Zhengming of China, 12th seed Marc Zwiebler of Germany, 13th seed Hu Yun of Hong Kong and unseeded Kenichi Tago of Japan.
Chong Wei is expected to meet Zhengming in the third round; Srikanth in the last eight; and one of these three – second seed Jorgensen, fifth seed Lin Dan or South Korea’s Son Wan-ho – in the semi-finals.
Top seed and defending champion Chen Long is in the top half of the draw with Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, Kento Momota of Japan, Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia and Malaysia’s independent shuttler Zulfadli Zulkiffli.
All eyes will be on Chong Wei in the world meet.
A year ago, the Malaysian was tested positive for doping at the World Championships after losing to Chen Long in the final in Copenhagen. It resulted in him being sentenced to an eight-month ban and his silver medal relinquished.
Prior to the Copenhagen setback, Chong Wei came close twice to ending the country’s long wait for a first world title at Wembley in 2011 and Guanzhou in 2013. He lost to Lin Dan on both occasions.
It will be tough for Malaysia in the other events.