Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fancied pair Koo-Tan can’t afford to rest on their laurels

KUALA LUMPUR: One of the early men’s doubles favourites Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong cannot afford to take forty winks in the All-England even in the absence of two key pairs.

A number of scratch combinations and rising young pairs will be lurking dangerously to scalp them in Birmingham.

On Monday, the organisers confirmed the withdrawal of the Olympic and world champions Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia due to the former’s knee injury.

The Indonesian top seeds have been replaced by qualifiers Kasper Faust Henriksen-Christian John Skovgaard in the main draw.

The men’s doubles event had also lost some of its glitter earlier when South Koreans Lee Yong-dae-Jung Jae-sung announced that they will not defend the title because of the latter’s obligation to serve under the country’s military programme.

In their absence, 2007 champions Kien Keat-Boon Heong and 2005 winners Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng of China will start as favourites.

Denmark will have two strong pairs — second seeds Lars Paaske-Jonas Rasmussen and Mathias Boe-Carsten Morgensen — in the pack to challenge for the title.

The others expected to give a good account of themselves are Malaysia’s Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif and England’s Anthony Clark-Nathan Robertson.

But one cannot underestimate the scratch partnerships of Yong-dae-Shin Baek-cheol and Indonesians Candra Wijaya-Joko Riyadi.

Yong-dae-Baek-cheol in winning the German Open last Sunday showed that they have the ability to spike the early favourites.

Candra-Joko are playing in their first international tournament and Indonesia can count on the experience of the former to make the pair strong challengers.

In the Malaysian Open in January, Candra teamed up with Luluk Hadiyanto for the first time and they reached the quarter-finals.

Kien Keat-Boon Heong are expected to meet Candra-Joko in the second round.

Said Kien Keat: “It will not be easy to play against a pair we have not played against before. But we are well prepared and it is our hope to do well in our third outing in the All-England.”

Indonesia will also be banking on two younger pairs — Mohd Ahsan-Bona Septano and Yonathan Suryatama Dasuki-Rian Sukmawan — to ruffle some feathers.

The Koreans, in a bid to add more depth to the men’s doubles, have in the competition three other upcoming pairs — Han Sang-hoon-Hwang Ji-man, Cho Gun-woo-Ko Sung-hyun and Kwon Yi-goo-Yoo Yeon-seong.