Thursday, August 21, 2014

Rashid warns of Chen Long threat

Lee Chong Wei will be looking to lift his maiden World title in Denmark next week.
Lee Chong Wei will be looking to lift his maiden World title in Denmark next week.

KUALA LUMPUR: National singles coach Rashid Sidek has warned Lee Chong Wei of a backlash from China’s Chen Long at next week’s World Championships.

The 46-year-old Rashid, who left for Copenhagen with the national team on Tuesday night, believes that world No. 2 Chen Long will return a stronger player after failing to impress in recent months.

Chen Long failed to deliver the opening point for China in their 3-0 Thomas Cup semi-final loss to Japan after losing to Kenichi Tago.

Chen Long also lost to Hong Kong’s Hu Yun in the last eight of the Japan Open and Dane Jan O Jorgensen in the Indonesian Open semi-finals in June.

Despite his indifferent form, the 25-year-old Chen Long is still regarded as the biggest threat to world No. 1 Chong Wei in the absence of Lin Dan, the five-time world champion from China. Chen Long has beaten Chong Wei eight times in 17 encounters.

“With Lin Dan not playing in the World Championships, the Chinese will surely be banking on Chen Long to deliver,” said Rashid.

“I’m not sure of his latest condition. But with him not playing well since the Thomas Cup, you can expect the Chinese coaching department to make some adjustment to his training regime to strengthen his game. China will go all out to defend the men’s singles title,” added Rashid.

China have been dominating the men’s singles event since 2006 with Lin Dan winning on five occasions. In 2010, Chen Jin claimed the title.

Rashid said Chong Wei, who is bidding to win his first world title, must not fear to attack if he meets Chen Long in the final.

“Chong Wei has to be more offensive. There is nothing special in Chen Long’s game. He relies on long rallies because he can hit good strokes.

“Chong Wei must avoid playing long rallies with him at all costs. He must know how to disrupt Chen Long’s rhythm by playing an attacking game.

“Whether the attack wins Chong Wei points or not, it doesn’t matter. At least, Chong Wei gets to control the tempo. Chen Long can be error-prone when he gets impatient,” said Rashid.

Despite not in tip-top condition, Chong Wei said he would try his level best to bring cheer to the nation on Merdeka Day.
All the five finals in Copenhagen will be played on Aug 31.

“I will try my utmost to win the world title as a gift to the country as well as all Malaysians on Merdeka Day,” said Chong Wei, who skipped the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow due to a thigh injury.

“My condition may not be 100% yet, but my target of winning my first world title hasn’t changed.

“I have not played in a competitive match for nearly two months, so my first-round match (against South Korea’s Lee Dong-keun) will be very important. I hope to make a good start,” said the 31-year-old.

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