ALOR STAR: It was a big slap on the face for the Badminton World Federation (BWF) when mighty China withdrew all their players from the most lucrative tournament — the inaugural US$500,000 Super Series Masters Finals, which will be held in Kota Kinabalu from Dec 18-21.
China cited three reasons for turning their back on the Masters Finals:
·their players are tired after a long season;
·some players are nursing injuries; and
·they will be involved in a three-month training camp.
China will also not feature in the first two opening legs of the new Super Series season next month in Malaysia (Jan 6-11) and South Korea (Jan 13-18).
Their decision certainly dilutes the competitive edge in all the five events — especially the men’s singles.
The players who will miss the season finale of the Super Series are Beijing Olympic Games champion Lin Dan (pic) and All-England winner Chen Jin (men’s singles); women singles players Lu Lan and Zhu Lin (women’s singles); men’s doubles pair of Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun (men’s doubles); women’s doubles players Du Jing-Yu Yang and Zhao Yunlei-Cheng Shu (women’s doubles); and He Hanbin-Yu Yang and Xie Zhongbo-Zhang Yawen (mixed doubles).
Their withdrawals, however, is good news for two Malaysians.
Seasoned campaigner Wong Choong Hann will now get to go for the Masters Finals as one of the eight qualifiers in the men’s singles while women’s singles shuttler Wong Mew Choo will also be making the trip to Kota Kinabalu.
If the Chinese shuttlers’ withdrawals were bad enough, BWF suffered another blow when Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat also pulled out yesterday, citing wrist injury. His place will be taken by Ng Wei of Hong Kong.
Only the top eight players after 12 legs of this year’s Super Series get to feature in the Masters Finals.
World No. 1 men’s singles shuttler Lee Chong Wei did not want to read too much into China’s decision to shy away from the prestigious tournament.
“China are very serious about their training camp. But their decision does not make any difference to me,” said Chong Wei, who is here for the National Grand Prix Finals.
“With or without Lin Dan, I will be out to give my best in my last tournament for the year. My aim is still the same — to at least reach the final,” he said.
Without Lin Dan and Chen Jin, those expected to make it difficult for Chong Wei are Denmark’s Peter Gade-Christensen and Indonesia’s Sony Dwi Kuncoro.
Malaysia’s other representatives in the Masters Finals are the two men’s doubles pairs of Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong and Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif-Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari and the top women’s doubles pair of Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty.
Meanwhile, the BWF have taken China’s decision on a positive note.
BWF secretary general Stuart Borrie said: “We respect China’s decision. Despite their absence, we still have a quality field. In singles, we have Chong Wei and Peter. It will still be a success.”