Home2016All eyes on big three in Asian championships

All eyes on big three in Asian championships

Asian Championships is sneak preview of Olympics

WUHAN: This year's Badminton Asia Championships could well be a sneak preview of the Rio Olympics men's singles battle as the top three players in the world will be in action this week.

The big three from Asia – Chen Long, Datuk Lee Chong Wei and defending champ Lin Dan, are competing here and will be aiming to deliver their best.

In last year's final Lin Dan beat compatriot Tian Houwei 21-19, 21-18.

For the Asian Championships which begin on Tuesday April 26-May 1) at the Wuhan Sports Center Gymnasium in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei Province, Chen Long is the top seed with Lin Dan at No 2 and Chong Wei seeded No 3.

Japan's Kento Momota was seeded fourth but will miss the Asian meet after the Nippon Badminton Association dropped him from the team for allegedly betting in an illegal casino.

Houwei, ranked No 7 in the world, is seeded fifth in Wuhan, followed by Taiwan's Chou Tien-chen (No 6) while Tommy Sugiarto and India's K. Srikanth are seedded seven and eight respectively. 

Two.time Olympic champion Lin Dan is not only touted to win his fifth Asian title but he is aiming  for a third Olympic gold in Rio to add to the ones he won at the Beijing Olympics (2008) and London Olympics (2012). 

Lin Dan won his sixth All-England title last month but failed to get onto the podium in the Malaysian Open and the Singapore Open. Last week he showed that he is still the player to beat when he defeated Chen Long for his sixth title in the China Masters.

Chen Long opens his Asian campaign against Korean Jeon Hyeok-jin while Lin Dan will face Indonesian youngster Ihsan Maulana Mustifa. Chong Wei who outplayed Chen Long in straight sets for his 11th Malaysian Open title takes on Chinese youngster Wang Zhengming. Chong Wei has not lost to Zhengming is the last 15 meetings.

Thailand's badminton sensation Ratchanok Intanon, who is the new World No 1 in the women's singles, created badminton history by winning three successive Superseries titles. 

After winning the India Open title, the Thai badminton queen won the Malaysia Open and  Singapore Open.

The former world champion (2013) claims that meditation has made her a much better player now. Ratchanok, is seeded only No 4 in the Asian Championships but she is strongly tipped to retain her Asian title she won last year by defeating Li Xuerui 20-22, 23-21, 21-12 in the final.

Incidentally Xuerui is the top seed this year with All England champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan seeded No 2. Third seed is another Chinese great, Wang Shixian.

Both the top two seeds will face Thai opponents in their opening matches. Xuerui, the World No 3 will take on World No 18 Porntip Buranaprasertsuk while Nozomi face Busnanan Ongbumrungphan who is world No 21.

Korea's world No 1 Lee Yong Dae-Yoo Yeon Seong are the top seeds and hot favourites retain their title in the men's doubles. They face Taiwan's Lee Sheng-mu-Tsai Chia-hsin (World No 18) in the first round. Second seeds and last year's runners-up Muhammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan will play a pair from the qualifying rounds.

Japan's Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi are the top seeds in the women's doubles. Newly crowned China Masters winners Luo twins – Luo Ying and Luo Yu – are seeded No 2 with Indonesians Nitya Krishinda Maheswari-Greysia Polii at No 3 while China's Tian Qing-Zhao Yunlei are seeded No 4.

In the mixed doubles, top seeds Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei and second seeds Tontowi Ahmad-Liliyana Natsir have drawn first byes. Liu Cheng-Bao Yixin (China) and Ko Sung-hyun-Kim Ha-na (Korea) are seeded No 3 and 4 respectively.   

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