The badminton lovers in the Capital will be in for some disappointment when the Asia Championship — test event for the Commonwealth Games —gets underway at the Sirifort Complex from April 12.
The reigning All-England champion and world No. 1, Lee Chong Wei, who was in Hyderabad recently for the World Championship, will give the event a miss.
Barring Wei, all other top shuttlers, including world No. 2 Lin Dan, No. 5 Taufik Hidayat and top women's shuttler, Lu Lan, will fight for the top honours. India's Saina Nehwal and Chetan Anand will also look to give a tough fight to the higher-ranked contenders.
Wei, the 26-year-old Malaysian, doesn't exactly have a flattering record on Indian soil. In 2009, Wei was down with food poisoning during the India Open and made an early exit. Later, he brought a cook along to avoid the stomach bug. The idea didn't contribute to his performance and he bowed out in the quarterfinals of the World Championship.
Wei had told HT last year before the start of the Worlds that, “playing in India had always been tough”.
The Badminton Association of India president, VK Verma, when asked about Wei's absence, said, “I think, it has to do with professional rivalry. Lin Dan will be here to showcase his skills. Wei and Dan do try to avoid a face-off, which is probably the reason why he (Wei) chose not to come. Also, he may be concentrating on the Thomas Cup finals in May,” he said.
As many as 334 players from 21 nations will compete in the championship. While the qualifying rounds will be held on April 12 and 13, the competition in the main draw commences on April 14.
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