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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Malaysian Open 2008 Early Analysis


The first leg of the Super Series tournament would see all top players attempting to establish dominance for one of the more eventful years ahead. With the Thomas Cup and the Olympics just peeking around the corner, a good start in Kuala Lumpur is just what all players desire and need. Furthermore, being one of the last Super Series tournaments offering generous ranking points before the all important Olympics, a good showing here could be the perfect confidence boost to propel one to Olympic representation and a shot at glory.

Men's Singles
Defending champion Peter Gade Christiansen will be hard pressed to defend his title which he won taking advantage of the early exit of the 2 top seeds Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei last year. Meanwhile, Lin Dan will be thirsting to claim his first Malaysian Open title, one of the only titles that have eluded him. Eager to shake off his painful defeat by Lee Chong Wei in Kuching 2 years ago, where he held 8 match points in the deciding set only to lose by the thinnest of margins, Lin will also be out to prove to Malaysians that he is THE best. Meanwhile, Lee Chong Wei who won here in 2004, 2005 and 2006, will want to please all his loyal Malaysian fans that have stuck with him through his slump. On the other hand, Bao Chunlai will also be a commendable force, after winning the China Open title, albeit under dubious circumstances. Overall, the Men's Singles disciplince is one of the more interesting contests of the tournament. Lee Chong Wei to defeat Lin Dan in a thrilling 3 set finals.

Women's Singles
The rise of several non Chinese players have certainly made the Women's Singles contest more interesting. Apart from the obvious top 2 seeds Zhang Ning and Xie Xingfang, complemented by the commendable Zhu Lin, reigning world champion, and Denmark Open Champion Lu Lan, Malaysians are certainly looking forward to homegirl Wong Mew Choo, who scalped 5 consecutive Chinese or ex-Chinese players enroute to her triumph in Guangzhou a few months ago. Wong reached the finals but lost to Zhu Lin in Cheras last year. Can she prove to Malaysians that she is a true champion, and actually take it one step further to claim the Malaysian Open title, and be, if my memory does not fail me, the first Malaysian woman to win the Malaysian Open title. Ex Chinese players Pi Hongyan and Xu Huaiwen have proven that they are a spent force with their unimpressive showing in 2007. Perhaps it is time for them to retire. On the other hand, Japan Open champion Tine Rasmussen, after her triumph in Tokyo, failed to produce any more impressive results in any of the Super Series tournaments. One thing is for sure, the rise of non Chinese playerrs have spiced up the competition in Women's Singles. The Women's Singles position in China has never been more threatened since the rise of Indonesian greats Susi Susanti and Mia Audina.

Men's Doubles
Defending champions Koo Kien Keat will be the top seeds here, and will be eager to please their fans. It has certainly been a tiring year for Koo and Tan, and with the much needed rest, Koo and Tan look like the overwhelming favorites to claim this title. Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan, continuing their near flawless record in the upper Asian region, after winning the last 2 Super Series titles on offer (Hong Kong Open and China Open), will want to in their first Malaysian Open title. On the other hand, Cai and Fu have had bad memories of Malaysia last year, with their early exits in the Malaysian Open and World Championships, both held in Kuala Lumpur, and both in the hands of Malaysians. American-Indonesians pairing of Tony Gunawan and Candra Wijaya will also be a commendable force, together with fellow veterans Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah. This is the most open field, and it looks like any player could claim the title here.

Women's Doubles
Chin Eei Hui and Wong Pei Tty will obviously be the Malaysian hopes in this category, who hopefully have recovered from the injuries that have plagued this partnership for so long. On the other hand, Li Yongbo's girls, Zhang Jiewen/Yang Wei and Wei Yili/Zhang Yawen, the world number 2 and number 1 respectively, will be the hot favorites to claim this title Together with Gao Ling/Zhao Ting Ting and many other Chinese pairs, this title seems to be China's. The Koreans have also a commendable force, and might upset the Chinese party. Apart from that, its China China China all the way.

Mixed Doubles
Gao Ling and Zheng Bo will be the favorites to win this title. However, with the recent triumph of Lilyana Natsir and Nova Widianto in Hong Kong, the Mixed Doubles title is open as ever. Dark horses are Vita Marrisa/Fland Limpele and Xie Zhongbo/Zhang Yawen. However, I think they wouldn't be able to make a huge impact. Finals will be contested by Gao Ling and Zheng Bo and Lilyana Natsir and Nova Widianto. As to who will come out on top, it is hard to tell.

Stay tuned for continued updates winding up to the much anticipated Malaysian Open!

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