Lee relishes last chance to 'get it right' at Dubai finale

Lee Chong Wei in action at the Hong Kong Open last month, which he won. In good form, the Malaysian former world No. 1 hopes to finally lift the Finals title in Dubai, where success has eluded him thus far.
Lee Chong Wei in action at the Hong Kong Open last month, which he won. In good form, the Malaysian former world No. 1 hopes to finally lift the Finals title in Dubai, where success has eluded him thus far.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KUALA LUMPUR • Dubai has not been a happy hunting ground for Malaysian shuttler Lee Chong Wei.

But he is hoping for a change of fortune in the United Arab Emirates when the World Superseries Finals - being held for the last time in Dubai - start today at the Hamdan Sports Complex.

Lee, 35, was forced to withdraw from the 2014 edition because he had to serve an eight-month ban for a doping violation, and also missed the season-ender the following year.

He made it to the Finals last season as one of the eight qualifiers but failed to clear the group stage.

The world No. 2, fresh from winning the Hong Kong Open last month, plans to leave his mark this time.

"I'm hoping to achieve my best results in Dubai this time," said Lee, who has won the Finals four times in 2008 (Kota Kinabalu), 2009 (Johor Baru), 2010 (Taipei) and 2013 (Kuala Lumpur).

"It is also held for the (fourth and) last time in Dubai. This is my only chance to get it right."

Lee is one of eight qualifiers for the men's singles. He is in Group A together with top seed Son Wan Ho of South Korea, Hong Kong's Ng Ka Long and China Open champion Chen Long.

Group B features world champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark and India's Srikanth Kidambi - who has won four Superseries titles this year - and they will face China's Shi Yuqi and Chou Tien-chen of Chinese Taipei.

"These are the usual suspects. We've played regularly in the circuit. It all depends on who can play confidently on match day," added Lee, a three-time Olympic silver medallist.

Axelsen, the defending champion, told bwfworldsuperseries. com: "There are no easy matches in this event. It's different from other tournaments - you might lose early but you still have a chance to progress. We're more used to a knockout system. But I enjoy playing here."

In the women's singles draw, Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin of Spain and world champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan have pulled out, citing injury.

Japan's Sayaka Sato takes Marin's place in Group A alongside compatriot Akane Yamaguchi, Indian P.V. Sindhu and China's He Bingjiao.

Nozomi was replaced by Chen Yufei of China, who will be in Group B with Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu-ying, Sung Ji Hyun of South Korea and Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon.

ASIA NEWS NETWORK/THE STAR

BWF SUPERSERIES FINALS
 Day 1, Group stage: StarHub Ch201, 5pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2017, with the headline 'Lee relishes last chance to 'get it right' at Dubai finale'. Print Edition | Subscribe