Badminton: Li Mao: Chong Wei closing in on Lin Dan 06 Sep 2006 K. M . Boopathy -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- AS far as national singles coach Li Mao is concerned, World No 2 Lin Dan of China is the best player and Lee Chong Wei still remains in the chasing pack despite showing rapid progress this year. Li Mao picked Lin Dan, who will regain the World No 1 ranking tomorrow from Chong Wei after winning the Hong Kong Open on Saturday, to win the World Championships in Madrid on Sept 18-24. While not taking credit away from Chong Wei, the coach said his charge must continue to work hard to keep up with Lin Dan. Li Mao has placed Chong Wei alongside China’s trio of Bao Chunlai (ranked fourth), Chen Jin (fifth) and Chen Hong (sixth), Danish duo Peter Gade Christensen (third) and Kenneth Jonassen (eighth) and South Korean Lee Hyun Il (seventh) in the chasing pack. "Chong Wei has improved tremendously and is closing the gap on Lin Dan. I consider Lin Dan as the undisputed number one at the moment and Chong Wei is still in the second group," said Li Mao in Bukit Jalil yesterday. "Lin Dan is the player to beat in Madrid and Chong Wei must continue battling hard to achieve a good result. "The Hong Kong Open has also helped Chong Wei regain his confidence and I’m happy with his progress. He is where I want him to be heading towards the World Championships. "I do not want to predict anything but I can give an assurance that Chong Wei will give his very best." Chong Wei suffered a minor setback when he lost in the second round of the Thailand Open in August and the recent Korea Open, which was supposed to be his last tune-up event before the World Championships. Chong Wei then made a last-minute decision to compete in the Hong Kong Open last week to fine-tune his preparations for Madrid. The move proved fruitful as Chong Wei reached the final after beating two of his main rivals — Hyun Il in the quarter-finals and Chen Jin in the semi-finals — before bowing out to in-form Lin Dan in the final. It was Chong Wei’s sixth defeat in eight matches to the Chinese ace but his performance indicated that the World Championship could just turn out to be a two-way race. Li Mao, however, feels Lin Dan is not the only worry for Chong Wei. There is also China’s two-time world junior champion Chen Jin, 21. "Chen Jin is dangerous. He has improved a lot and we must not forget it. There are also other good players, and let’s not forget Taufik Hidayat," added Li Mao. "Chong Wei could meet Taufik (ranked 35th) early and he has to fight all the way." However, Chong Wei’s target is to end his losing streak to Lin Dan outside Malaysia. Li Mao may have planned something for Chong Wei.