KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 1 men’s doubles shuttlers and top seeds Tan Wee Kiong-Goh V Shem will begin their All-England badminton championships with a first-round clash against Japan’s Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi in Birmingham on Wednesday.
On paper, that should be a cinch.
In reality, it’s a lot tougher than it looks.
The world No. 18 Japanese pair, both 21, have proved to be a menace for some of the world’s top pairs in the last one year. Their biggest win was against China’s world No. 6 pair Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen in the China Open last year.
“The opening round is the most important. Other factors counts too … we need to get used to the court as well as adjust to the cooler weather and time difference.
“Hopefully, we’ll live up to our top seeding.”
The All-England will be Wee Kiong-V Shem’s first international outing since winning the World Superseries Finals in Dubai last December as both players had been injured over the last three months.
Wee Kiong was down with a shoulder problem in January while V Shem injured his ankle last month.
“We’re both fine now. We’ve put in a lot of work in training and are looking forward to playing together again after the long break,” said Wee Kiong.
“We expect nothing less than a semi-final appearance again. It would be great if we can win our first All-England title.”
If they clear the first round hurdle, they will probably face China’s Liu Xiaolong-Xu Chen next. If they win, they should play either sixth seeds Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen of China or Thailand’s Bodin Isara-Nipitphon Phuangphuapet.
The others in their half are seventh seeds Angga Pratama-Ricky Karanda Suwardi of Indonesia and Japan’s No. 1 pair Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda.
Second seeds Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen of Denmark are in the lower half of the draw with China’s Chai Biao-Hong Wei, Malaysia’s Teo Ee Yi-Ong Yew Sin and the Indonesian-Malaysia combination of Hendra Setiawan-Tan Boon Heong.
Wee Kiong-V Shem left for Birmingham yesterday with Lee Chong Wei, Zulfadli Zulkiffli, Ee Yi-Yew Sin, Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei.
They will be joined by Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying and Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing after the German Open.