Monday March 18, 2013
Former Chinese aces Chunlai and Zheng Bo to light up Axiata Cup
PETALING JAYA: The US$1mil Axiata Cup will feature two former China stars in the form of Zheng Bo and Bao Chunlai when the first round of the tournament starts in Surabaya, Indonesia on Thursday.
Doubles specialist Zheng Bo is one the finest players from Hunan, China, in the past decade and won the world mixed doubles crown with Ma Jin.
The 29-year-old, however had a falling out with the China national team and subsequently retired from competition.
The left-handed Chunlai, a world junior champion in 2000 and a silver medallist in the 2006 World Championships, retired in 2011 after a string of nagging injury problems.
The 30-year-old, who was once Lin Danís team-mate, however, has reinvented himself as a doubles player together with hometown buddy Zheng Bo.
They have achieved some impressive results in the China Badminton League.
The pair will be part of the Asia All-Star team, who also feature South Korean ace Lee Hyun-il and Malaysian Open womenís singles champion Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan.
Meanwhile, the Axiata Cup will be a useful platform for several under-performing Malaysian shuttlers to impress again.
Key among them will be singles shuttler Liew Daren and doubles pair Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong. They were a big disappointment in the recent tournaments in Europe.
ďThe Axiata Cup will be an ideal platform for them to build their confidence and go on from there,Ē said national doubles chief coach Tan Kim Her.
ďThey will be up against quality opposition from Indonesia, Thailand, the All-Asia and All-Europe teams. They are now low on morale but we are helping them to overcome it.Ē
The second round of the tournament will be held simultaneously in Kuala Lumpur and Surabaya from March 29-31.
The top four teams with the most points after the preliminary rounds will progress to the semi-finals. The finals will be held from April 13-14.
The winning team will pocket a whopping US$400,000.