JOHOR BARU: Lee Chong Wei was given the choice to take a short break after winning the Indonesia Open title on Sunday.
But the world No. 1 wants to treat the home fans to another great week of badminton by emerging as the champion in the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold, which begins tomorrow at the Bandaraya Stadium here.
And he is ready to face a backlash from Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat. Chong Wei had broken the hearts of the Indonesian fans by beating Taufik relatively easy in Jakarta to win the Indonesia Open title for the second time after 2007.
Barring any upsets, the two players are tipped to clash again in the GP Gold event here, which is the second major international Open tournament hosted by the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) this year after the Malaysian Super Series in January where Chong Wei emerged as the champion.
The tournament has attracted quite a number of star players as it is the last offering players the opportunity to improve on their rankings ahead of the world championships in Hyderabad from Aug 10-16.
Chong Wei said that he expected a tougher match against Taufik if they were to meet in the final again.
“There is renewed determination in Taufik since he became an independent player. He is as skilful as ever. I was able to beat him (in the Indonesia Open) because he could not last the pace,” said Chong Wei, who arrived in Johor Baru yesterday.
“He had several very taxing matches before the final (against Thai Boonsak Ponsana, Dane Peter-Gade Christensen and compatriot Sony Dwi Kuncoro).
“I am sure that he will be in better condition for his assault here. If Taufik continues to improve on his physical condition, I see him as a genuine contender to win the world championships.”
On his preparations for the world championships, Chong Wei said: “I was feeling down after losing in the Singapore Open (second round). Now, I am back on the right track.
“My coach (Misbun Sidek) is also back to guide me and strengthen my preparation for the world championships. I am really looking forward to winning my second international title at home this year.”
Misbun was not able to be with Chong Wei for more than two months because he had to care for his wife, who has a kidney ailment.
In the GP Gold, Chong Wei is in the same half of the draw as China’s juniors Zhou Wenglong, Du Pengyu; Indonesian back-up players Andre Tedjono Kurniawan, Alamsyah Yunus; Thailand’s top youngster Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk; Japanese top junior Tago Kenichi; and Malaysia’s back-up players Daren Liew, Mohd Arif Abdul Latif and Chan Kwong Beng.
None of them are likely to prevent him from reaching the final.
Taufik opens his campaign against world junior champion Chen Long of China.
The others in his half of the draw are Malaysians Wong Choong Hann, Lee Tsuen Seng, Tan Chun Seang and Chong Wei Feng, India’s Anup Sridhar and China’s Lu Qicheng.