Sport: Badminton/Malaysian Open: Will a Malaysian be champ again? Graig Nunis THE stage is set for a local winner in the Malaysian Open starting today. Hopes are high that Wong Choong Hann or any Malaysian can make it three in a row. Ong Ewe Hock won in 2001 while James Chua stunned everyone when he won the title last year beating Ewe Hock. This year, the favourites are Chen Hong and world champion Xia Xuanze. The two Chinese are in top form with Xuanze winning the world title in Birmingham last month. Chen Hong won in Singapore and finished second in Indonesia. However, Chen Hong going all the way to the final in back-to-back tournaments, might work against him in Malaysia as fatigue might set in. This leaves the door open for a Malaysian to sneak in. Singles coach Misbun Sidek certainly believes so. The former national champion said: “The gap among the top players in the world is quite small. “The gold medals have been changing hands in all the tournaments and I think we have something like seven different winners in eight tournaments. “This is an indication of the strength of the game and I will not be surprised if a Malaysian wins the Open once again.” Among the other big names are Peter Gade, Kenneth Jonassen and Asian champion Sony Dwi Kuncoro.