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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Malaysian Open 2008 Men's Doubles Predictions (Part 2)

this is part of the 5 part series regarding the 2008 Malaysian Open predictions. Other parts can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

After a well deserved break, all top Men's Doubles players will be present in full force in the first major tournament of the year. This season opener promises to be anything but boring, as most pairs will be out to stamp their mark and raise confidence ahead of what will be an exciting and eventful year.

Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong (1st Seeds)
Koo and Tan have rightfully taken a well earned break after a hectic and busy 2007. Although their outing in the last 2 Super Series tournaments, the Hong Kong Open and the China Open were disappointing, this pair promises to live up to expectations and defend their title. Koo Kien Keat commented that: "We are preparing ourself for the Malaysia Open to defend our title.We are really going for it. (It) is our home ground and want to retain the title." I expect nothing but the best from this pair. However, one has to admit that Koo and Tan have not won a tournament in which they are seeded first. Lets see whether this will be a first by the world number 1s. Koo and Tan's do not have the luck of the draw with them. They will meet tricky Indonesians Joko and Hendra in the first round, then former world champions Lars Paaske and Jonas Rasmussen. They will then possibly meet teammates Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah, and if they proceed, Chinese Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng. In the finals, they might meet second seeds Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan. Is this a bad draw or a good draw relatively speaking? I think it is a good draw. Koo and Tan play their best badminton in front of the best players. Facing stiff opposition in every round means that they will avoid being too complacent. A stiff draw for others, but a lucky draw for them.

Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan (2nd Seeds)
The reigning world champions will certainly want to start off the year with a bang by claiming the Malaysian Open title. Coming off with 3 consecutive titles (China Open, Hong Kong Open, SEA GAMES GOLD), a good start here will certainly stand them in good stead for the Olympic Games and Thomas Cup later this year. Markis and Hendra should face no stiff resistance until the Quarter Finals, where they will most probably meet Danes Jens Eriksen and Martin Luungard Hansen. If everything goes according to the seedings, they will then face the Indonesian-American combination of Tony Gunawan and Candra Wijaya. I predict they will reach the finals, but will they win the title against arch nemesis Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong, who they have never defeated?

Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah (5th Seeds)
Struck down by a bout of flu, this pairing is Malaysia's second hope for the Malaysian Open title. They last won the title 4 years ago in 2004. Choong and Lee will meet Koo and Tan in the Quarter Finals. This will be a tricky hurdle for both pairs, as both pairs have beaten each other consistently before. However, with sickness plaguing this combination, it is unlikely they will proceed beyond the Quarter Finals of this tournament.

Cai Yun
and Fu Haifeng (3rd Seeds)
This golden Chinese pair will be certainly out to prove their mettle after a relatively disastrous 2007. Losing their world number 1 ranking and then dropping to 3rd position, China's Men's Doubles Gold Medal in the Beijing Olympics looks to be in jeopardy. After a disappointing tour of Northern Asia, in which they failed to grab either the China Open or the Hong Kong Open, Cai and Fu need to prove themselves to the Chinese public once again by shutting up those pesky Malaysian supporters. By winning here in Cheras, Cai and Fu would be in good position to regain the world number 1 ranking. Cai and Fu will meet Koo and Tan in the semifinals, and this will be the only major hurdle up until then. If they make it past the world number 1, then they will meet Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan, who demolished them when they last met, in the Hong Kong Open Semifinals. It will certainly be a tough task for Li Yongbo's boys to win their maiden Malaysian Open title.

Stay tuned for more updates on the Malaysian Open!

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