Friday February 22, 2013
Daren hopes for another smashing performance at All-England
By RAJES PAUL
KUALA LUMPUR: National men’s singles shuttler Liew Daren is determined to keep the good times rolling in the All-England for the second year in a row.
The 25-year-old Daren has been drawn to meet former world champion Chen Jin of China in the first round in Birmingham from March 5-10 but he is not intimidated by the challenging opener.
He has yet to beat Chen Jin in his career but he hopes to take advantage of the world No. 5 shuttler’s slide in form.
The Chinese failed to win any Super Series titles last year in an injury-plagued season.
In contrast, Daren’s fortunes changed for the better since he reached the quarter-finals of the All-England for the first time last year.
The breakthrough in Birmingham gave him a lot of confidence, including winning his first-ever Super Series title at the French Open in October.
He has also improved his world ranking from outside the top 50 to his current No. 12th spot.
Daren said he would live up to their high hopes on him.
“It is a tough first round match for me. I am not seeded so I’ve no chance of avoiding the top players in the early rounds. I kind of expected this,” said Daren.
“After doing well in last year’s All-England, expectations are higher on me to outperform myself again. I have played Chen Jin once – at last year’s Swiss Open and I lost to him in the quarter-finals (8-21, 21-23).
“It will not be easy to get the better of him but I have to believe that it is not an impossible task.”
Daren hopes for a good showing to boost his chances of breaking into the top eight before the World Championships in Guangzhou in August.
The qualifying period for the world meet will end in April. The seedings will be based on the world ranking in July.
“If I can consistently play well in the next few tournaments starting with the All-England, I may be able to break into the top eight. This is my target.
“Being ranked in the top eight will help me avoid seeded players in the early rounds of the World Championships and brightens my chance of making the quarter-finals.”
Daren’s only concern right now is his condition.
He injured his foot during the Indonesian Super League in Jakarta prior to the Chinese New Year.
“I have received treatment for my injury and I have also taken all the preventive measures since I returned to training. I am now keeping my fingers crossed that the injury will not rob me of a chance of enjoying another good run in Birmingham,” said Daren.
Daren and Chen Jin are drawn in the lower half of the draw with second seed Chen Long of China, who is bidding for his first All-England title. The others in the same half are Japan’s Kenichi Tago, Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuncoro, Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana and Malaysia’s Chong Wei Feng.
In the top half with top seed and two-time All-England champion Lee Chong Wei are three China’s youngsters – Wang Zhengming, Du Pengyu and Gao Huan.
The other notable names are Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh and Indonesia’s old and new stars - Taufik Hidayat and Tommy Sugiarto.