PETALING JAYA: Back-up men’s singles shuttler Soong Joo Ven wants a crack at Lin Dan (pic) at the China Masters.
The 22-year-old Joo Ven badly wants to face the two-time Olympic champion when the second-tier Grand Prix Gold tournament starts today in Jiangsu.
Joo Ven and two-time national champion Lim Chi Wing are the only two Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) men’s singles representatives and both face Japanese opponents in their opening round today.
Joo Ven takes on Kodai Naraoka while Chi Wing has a match against Yusuke Onodera in the 64-man field.
If Joo Ven clears the opening round, he faces fifth-seed Hsu Jen-hao of Taiwan. If all goes well, he will likely meet the recently crowned Malaysian Open champion Lin Dan in the quarter-finals.
While the world No. 100 Joo Ven relishes the prospect of taking on Lin Dan, he will also keep an eye on his early round opponents.
Confident: Soong Joo Ven will face Kodai Naraoka of Japan in the first round of the China Masters today.
“Lin Dan is one of my favourite players. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to play against him at least once before he retires,” said Joo Ven.
“But first, I must overcome my early threat – Jen-hao. I lost to him at last year’s Wales International but I’m mentally prepared to face him this time.”
“My coach (Tey Seu Bock) has set a quarter-final target for me and I’ll give it my best shot to achieve it.”
Joo Ven is one of the back-up shuttlers who came under fire for their slow progress.
“There have been ups and down but I rather leave all that behind me. I’ll just focus on my game and try to get better in every tournament,” added the former National Under-18 singles champion.
“I’ve never gone beyond the second round of a Grand Prix Gold tournament.
“My problem is that I’m slow to adapt. I do not think fast enough when opponents switched their tempo and strategy.
“And I’ve realised that it’s useless to compare myself with Lee Chong Wei. He has achieved so much while I still have a long way to go.
“I’m training hard as I too want to make Malaysia proud,” added the Scottish Open runner-up, who hopes to break into the top 50 by end of this year.