Lee Chong Wei was handed a favourable draw in his quest to win a maiden World Championships title when he avoided badminton’s elites such as Lin Dan, Chen Long and Viktor Axelsen after the draw was made on Tuesday.
The Malaysian men’s singles ace will face Brice Leverdez in the first round of the World Championships in Nanjing, China from July 30- August 5.
Ironically, both men played each other in the opening round of last year’s edition, with the Frenchman dumping Lee out courtesy of a 21-19, 22-24, 21-17 win.
But Lee, who has surged to world number two after winning the Malaysia Open and reaching the Indonesia Open semifinals earlier this month, is expected to clear the first hurdle with ease.
Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting could await in the second round, and Japanese Kento Momota in the semifinals.
“Lee’s target is to be the champion. In order to be champion, its better he meet Momota in the semifinals. For me, he has a 50-50 chance against Momota,” Badminton Association of Malaysia honorary secretary Datuk Ng Chin Chai told Fox Sports Malaysia.
Lee is desperate to land the elusive world title, after losing in three heartbreaking finals.
The 36-year-old had lost to five-time world champion Lin Dan in 2011 and 2013, before Chen Long denied him in 2015.
Lee had also finished runner-up in 2014 to Chen, but he was qualified after being tested for the banned substance dexamethasone and served a eight-month ban.
His chances of winning are boosted by the fact Axelsen, Chen and Lin all occupy the top half of the draw.
Besides Lee, Liew Daren is the other Malaysian in the men’s singles.
But Daren faces a tough opening match against Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie.
The Malaysian contingent also have a good representation at this year’s World Championships.
Goh Jin Wei and Soniia Cheah will compete in the women’s singles, while Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi and Aaron Chia- Soh Wooi Yik form the three men’s doubles pairings.
Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean and Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei will compete in the women’s singles, while Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai, Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying prepare to do battle in the mixed doubles.
Photo Credit: BAM