KUALA LUMPUR: National doubles chief coach Yap Kim Hock wants Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah to win the doubles crown in the Yonex-Sunrise Asian Badminton Championships (ABC) to boost their seeding for the Athens Olympic Games.

The ABC men's doubles first round starts tomorrow at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium (KLBA) and Tan Fook-Wan Wah are the top seeds.

The duo are currently ranked fourth in the world and if they can live up to their billing in the ABC, they can look forward to being among the top four seeds in the Olympics.

“It will be great to have a good seeding for the Olympics. The draw will easier and they can at least advance to the semi-finals in the Olympics. But they have to win the ABC title here,” said Kim Hock.

The badminton competition during the Olympic Games is scheduled from Aug 13-21.

Four years ago at the Sydney Olympics, Tan Fook-Wan Wah lost to South Koreans Lee Dong-soo-Yoo Yong-sung in the semi-finals. Then, in the third place playoff, for the bronze medal they lost to South Koreans Kim Dong-moon-Ha Tae-kwon.

Not discounting the doubles title won at the Vietnam SEA Games last year, Tan Fook-Wan Wah have not won a major title since the 1999 Singapore Open.

The duo came close to their biggest career win at the All-England but lost to Denmark's Jens Eriksen-Martin Lundgaard Hansen in the final last month.

Eriksen-Lundgaard Hansen, ranked fifth in the world, will be out to overtake the Malaysians in the world rankings with a strong performances in the European team and individual championships starting tomorrow in Geneva. Like the ABC, the European championships is the last Olympic qualifying tournament for the Europeans.

Kim Hock said that Tan Fook-Wan Wah can lift the title if they stay focused.

“Tan Fook-Wan Wah can challenge any of the top players in the world now. But their only problem is not being able to sustain their form especially after taking the lead. Sometime they have to struggle to finish a game,” said Kim Hock.

“If they can put this problem aside, I am sure they can challenge for the title in ABC,” added Kim Hock.

They squandered a 12-5 and 13-11 leads in the second game and lost 15-9, 13-15, 3-15 to Eriksen-Lundgaard Hansen in the All-England final.

Early this month, at the Japan Open, they squandered their leads several times and bowed out 15-5, 16-17, 12-15 to Indonesians Trikus Hariyanto-Sigit Budiarto in the second round. The Malaysians led 12-8 the rubber game.

In the ABC, Tan Fook-Wan Wah will play Thailand's second pair of Sudket Prapakamol-Patapol Ngernsrisuk in the opening round. But their first real challenge should come in the quarter-finals against Indonesian Candra Wijaya-Halim Hariyanto.

Meanwhile, Kim Hock said Malaysia's second pair of Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng would have a tough time in the ABC meet following the change in the draw.

“Initially, they had a safe path to the quarter-finals. Now, it will be tough from the second round onwards. The success of this pair will depend very much on Chong Ming. Hopefully, he will be able to rise to the occasion,” said Kim Hock.

Chong Ming-Choon Eng, ranked world No. 22 are expected to meet Taiwanese Tsai Chia-hsin-Tseng Chung-lin in the last 16. If they advance, they will be up against second seeds Lee Dong-soo-Yoo Yong-sung of South Korea.

“The Taiwanese are tough opponents. A place in the Olympics depends on their performances in the ABC meet and I hope they will be able to make it,” added Kim Hock.

The other Malaysian doubles in the fray are the scratch pairs of Koo Kien Keat-Chang Kim Wai and Tan Bin Shen-Ong Soon Hock.
TheStar