Local shuttlers get tough Li-Ning S'pore Open draws

At the launch of the 2013 Li-Ning Singapore Open were (from left): Mahender Kapoor, director, Li-Ning; Michael Foo, secretary-general, Singapore Badminton Association (SBA); Francis Koh, chairman, organising committee, Li-Ning Singapore Open; Lee Yi Shyan, SBA president; Bobby Lee, CEO, SBA; Mohan Dharan, tournament director, Li-Ning Singapore Open; and Melissa Chow, senior marketing executive, Osim. The annual badminton tournament will be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from June 18 to 23.

SINGAPORE - The luck of the draw at the Li-Ning Singapore Open did not go the way of the hosts yesterday, as the nation's players will meet tough opposition.

The annual badminton tournament, which will be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from June 18 to 23, sees national women's singles shuttler Gu Juan drawn against world No.2 and 2010 champion, Saina Nehwal of India, in the first round.

Gu's compatriot Derek Wong, who is unseeded, will need to see off two opponents in the men's singles qualifying stages - only to meet defending champion and twice winner Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand in the opening round of 32 if he gets there.

In doubles, the women's pair of Fu Mingtian and Shinta Mulia Sari, who are making their debut in the competition, will face the world No.1 pairing of Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli of China, if they get through their single qualifier against Japanese duo Reika Kakiiwa and Miyuki Maeda.

But the Singaporeans are determined not to be overwhelmed in the face of tough competition.

Said Wong, ranked world No.48: "I will not let myself be affected by who my opponent is."

Added Fu, the 2011 SEA Games singles champion: "This will be my first Superseries partnering Shinta, and we do not want to give ourselves any pressure by thinking of our opponents. We want to focus on our play."

Chinese superstar Lin Dan, a two-time Olympic singles gold medallist and arguably the sport's best-ever player, will meet Vietnam's Nguyen Tien Minh in their opener.

Should he advance to the last eight, he may face team-mate and world No.3 Du Pengyu, who became the event's top seed after the late withdrawal of world No.2 Chen Long.

Said Du, who was knocked out in the first round last year: "Being the top seed, I hope to achieve better results this year and will aim to fight my way to the championship match."

And an exciting clash between China's Olympic champion and world No.1 Li Xuerui against holder Juliane Schenk of Germany will take place in the women's singles semi-finals, should both reach that stage.

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