OBSTACLES: Chong Wei could meet another player instead of Chen Long in the semis
NATIONAL singles chief coach Rashid Sidek, while reiterating Lee Chong Wei has a good chance of winning a medal, has cautioned not to expect too much from the potential semi-final clash against China's Chen Long as the grudge match may not even take place in the London Olympics which begins tomorrow.
This is because Chen Long has plenty of obstacles beginning with his Group E match against Singapore Open champion Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand where the former must win to progress to the knockout stage.
Chen Long will most likely play dangerous floater Wong Wing Ki of Hong Kong, who has beaten defending champion Lin Dan of China, in the second round, and needs to overcome Peter Gade Christensen of Denmark or Shon Wan Ho of South Korea in the last eight before thinking about a semi-final showdown against Chong Wei.
"Chong Wei's possible semi-final clash against Chen Long has been getting much attention but it might not even take place. Chong Wei should not be too focused on playing Chen Long and must be prepared to face anyone," said Rashid in a telephone interview form the Wembley Arena in London yesterday.
"Chen Long has a tough draw. Beating players like Boonsak, Wing Ki, Christensen or Shon Wan Ho will take a lot of effort and he needs to clear all of them first.
"As for Chong Wei, his medal chances are good but he must be prepared to play anyone. We don't want to be caught in a situation where he doesn't meet Chen Long and not prepared for the other opponents.
"Chong Wei also plays some quality opponents like Simon (Santoso of Indonesia) and Kenichi (Tago of Japan) before the last four and he must also take them seriously.
"His first match will be against Ville Lang of Finland on Monday and this will also give him the opportunity to attend the opening ceremony on Friday (tomorrow) as this will be his last Games."
Women's singles Tee Jing Yi, who plays Bae Youn Joo of South Korea at 8.30am on Saturday, will skip the opening ceremony and men's doubles Koo Kienn Keat-Tan Boon Heong are also set to miss the event as their match against Naoki Kawamae-Shoji Sato of Japan is at 1.30pm the same day.
The shuttlers also had their first training session on Tuesday. There was another one-hour session yesterday and Rashid said the only problem is the hot and dry weather in London at the moment.
"We had a good session but the air-conditioning was not used at the Wembley Arena and it was humid and dry during training. I'm not sure whether the air-con will be used during competition as it will be tough for all the players if the air-con is not used. Otherwise, the players are prepared.
"Chong Wei's ankle injury has healed and he is in good condition, so we can look forward to a fine performance from him."
Rashid even hinted that Chong Wei, if he plays to form, can reach the final but would rather focus on the earlier rounds before making any prediction on the much anticipated clash between himself and Lin Dan on Aug 5.
Group Fixtures (All London time)
Men’s singles, Group A: Lee Chong Wei v Ville Lang (Fin) 2.15pm, July 30.
Doubles, Group D: Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong v Naoki Kawamae-Shoji Sato (Jpn) 1.07pm, July 28; v Tony Gunawan-Howard Bach (US) 2.17pm, July 29; v Chung Jae Sung-Lee Yong Dae (Kor) 3.20pm, July 31.
Women’s singles, Group B: Tee Jing Yi v Bae Youn Joo (Kor) 8.30am, July 28; v Agnese Allegrini (Ita) 1.05pm, July 30.
Mixed doubles, Group D: Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying v Chen Hung Ling-Cheng Wen Hsing (Tai) 12.30pm, July 28; v Xu Chen-Ma Jin (Chn) 6.30pm, July 29; v Sudket Prapakamol-Saralee Thoungthongkam (Tha) 12.30pm, July 31.