Badminton: Boost for Wong

Badminton: Boost for Wong
Singapore badminton player Derek Wong.

SINGAPORE - Singapore's top male shuttler Derek Wong has been promoted to the main draw of next week's OUE Singapore Open, following the late withdrawals of defending champion Tommy Sugiarto and fellow Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuncoro due to injury.

Under tournament rules, when there are any withdrawals from the main draw before the start of the competition, the next highest-ranked players in the qualifying round automatically get promoted to the main draw.

As such, China's Gao Huan and 25-year-old Wong, the top two seeds in the qualifiers, have received byes.

This also means Wong (above), whose last Singapore Open main-draw appearance ended in a first-round defeat in 2012, avoided a potential banana skin in the qualifiers against former world No. 3 and two-­time South-east Asia Games singles champion Simon Santoso.

With the bye, Wong will now have to wait until after the team managers' meeting on Monday to find out if he will face Hong Kong's Hu Yun or another qualifier on Wednesday.

"Although I am happy to enter the main draw, it is unfortunate for the event that two of Indonesia's top male shuttlers have pulled out," said Wong.

"Hopefully I will get a favourable draw on Monday. But whoever I meet in the main draw will be a tough opponent as the field this year is really strong, even with the withdrawal of Tommy and Sony. I hope to make it past the first round because I have never done so at the Singapore Open.

"Last month, I came through the qualifiers at the All England Open, and just missed out on the second round (he lost to Japan's world No. 23 Sho Sasaki 20-22, 21-7, 20-22).

"I want to convert these near-misses into victories."

In the women's singles, Singapore's top female shuttler Gu Juan (world No. 25) could meet reigning world champion, Thailand's world No. 4 Ratchanok Intanon, in the second round if she prevails against Japan's world No. 11 Sayaka Takahashi.

TOUGH OPENER

Singapore's world No. 20 women's doubles duo, Yao Lei and Shinta Mulia Sari, winners of the 2010 edition, will open their campaign against world No. 5 duo Jang Ye Na and Kim So Young of South Korea.

Mixed doubles pair Vanessa Neo and Danny Bawa Chrisnanta (No. 17) will play India's Tarun Kona and Ashwini Ponnappa (No. 37) in their opening match.

In the men's doubles, Chayut Triyachart and Danny, who rose from world No. 281 to No. 112 after winning the Malaysian Grand Prix last week, have to first take on Malaysia's Haw Yong Yuan and Kong Keat Zhen in the qualifiers.

The tournament will take place from April 8-13 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and features men's world No. 1, Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei, who is taking part for the first time since 2010.

davidlee@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 4 in The New Paper.

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