Wong has high hopes for Malaysia at World Championships

Wong Choong Hann is optimistic of Malaysia’s chances at the World Championships in Basel, Switzerland from Aug 19-25.

Some of the Malaysian contenders at the World Championships are Lee Zii Jia, Shevon Lai Jemie and Goh Soon Huat.

Speaking of his players’ chances after yesterday’s draw, Wong – the Badminton Association of Malaysia’s high-performance director – said: “It’s a fair draw in all departments.

“Lee (Zii Jia) has a good chance against top players. We’re looking at him to clear the early rounds and play Kento Momota. We have to prepare ourselves for the big stage.

“I think men’s singles is the most open (category) because of the absence of Viktor Axelsen and Shi Yu Qi. Lee Chong Wei is also not competing for the first time in a long while.

“A lot of upcoming youngsters like Anders Antonsen, Anthony Ginting, Jonatan Christie and Zii Jia are there.”

Men’s singles defending champion Momota’s quarter includes five-time champion Lin Dan, Lee and India’s H.S. Prannoy.

In women’s singles, top seed Akane Yamaguchi might have to contend with 2013 champion Ratchanok Intanon in her quarter, while second seed Tai Tzu Ying is seeded to clash with two-time runner-up Pusarla V Sindhu in the quarterfinals.

Besides Axelsen and Shi, another top women’s singles contender – Carolina Marin of Spain – also pulled due to injury.

Marin and Shi’s decisions were conveyed to BWF over the weekend.

Marin announced on her social media page she had been unable to recover fully from the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury to her right knee that she suffered at the Indonesia Masters in January.

Marin has been world champion on three occasions – 2014, 2015 and 2018 while Axelsen was the men’s winner in 2017.

Shi suffered a left ankle injury at the Indonesia Open last month. Shi was runner-up to Momota at the last World Championships in Nanjing.

Last week, Axelsen cited a disc protrusion in his lower back that was causing pain in the back and legs as the reason for his withdrawal.

This is the first time the World Championships and the Para-Badminton World Championships are being held concurrently.

“The tournament also comes at a crucial time for our athletes as they continue their quest to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” said Badminton World Federation president Poul-Erik Hoyer.

“I look forward to seven incredible days of badminton in Basel and I wish all the players the best of luck.”

A total of 383 players from 46 member associations will contest this year’s championships.