World number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia will not be defending his Hong Kong Open title which may affect his chance of qualifying for the end year superseries finals.
Lee is the top seed in the men’s singles of the US$400,000 tournament which kicks off at the Coliseum in Hung Hom on November 22 and the Hong Kong Badminton Association said they had yet to receive any update on the top player’s status.
But reports in Malaysia claim Lee, who has not played since his defeat in last month’s Denmark Open, had opted out the Hong Kong event due to injury.
According to Lee’s coach Hendrawan, his charge had yet to fully recover from the leg problems sustained in Odense when Lee was surprisingly beaten by Frenchman Brice Leverdez in the quarter-finals and the player is also sick at the moment.
“Lee is suffering from fever now and he’s yet to make a full recovery from his hamstring injury,” said the Malaysia singles coach. “He has pulled out from the Hong Kong Open … it’s not wise to compete when he’s not in the best condition.
“He could still qualify for the superseries finals, but we’ll have to wait and see how the others fare.”
Lee, who captured his third Olympic silver medal in Rio this summer, has already withdrawn from the last two superseries tournaments, including the China Open, which started in Fuzhou on Tuesday.
Only the top eight players after the 12 legs of the superseries events will qualify for the finals in Dubai in December and Lee is currently fifth in the standings with 43,510 points.
Hong Kong’s Ng Ka-long is sixth with 40,100 points, followed by Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen (39,120) and Germany’s Marc Zwiebler (38,230). Even Taiwanese duo Chou Tien Chen (No 9) and Hsu Jen Hao (No 11) as well as Hong Kong’s Wong Wing-ki (No 10) could overtake Lee if they can do well in the remaining two rounds.
But Ng already missed the chance of closing the gap after the Hong Kong number one was beaten in the opening round in Fuzhou following a 21-13, 21-13 loss to Prannoy of India.
A spokesman for the Hong Kong Badminton Association said they hadn’t heard anything about Lee’s withdrawal.
“We knew about his injury problems but as far as we understand he is still on the list,” said the spokesman. “If he cannot come in the end because of injuries, we will replace him with the preferred qualifier who is the highest ranked player in the qualifying round.”
Ihsan Maulana Mustofa of Indonesia will take over Lee’s place according to the draw.