On Monday, order the Badminton World Federation (BWF) published the official list for the Finals, healing to be held at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton (KLBA) Stadium from Dec 11-15, and all the top eight men’s doubles shuttlers have confirmed their participation.
They are Indonesia’s Mohd Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan; Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo-Kenichi Hayakawa and Hirokatsu Hashimoto-Noriyasu Hirata; South Korea’s Lee Yong-dae-Ko Sung-hyun and Kim Ki-jung-Kim Sa-rang; China’s Liu Xiaolong-Qiu Zihan; Denmark’s Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen; and Malaysia’s Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong.
But Badminton Association of Malaysia’s (BAM) decision to leave them out of the Hong Kong Open, which was the last leg of the Tour, cost them dearly. They were pipped by ninth-placed Ki-jung-Sa-rang.
World No. 10 Thien How-Wee Kiong, who did well to win the Macau Open on Sunday, had quietly hoped for Ahsan-Hendra to skip the Finals and take part in the Myanmar SEA Games badminton competition from Dec 10-14.
The Indonesians, who have enjoyed an impressive season, thus far, chose to go after the US$42,000 (RM135,000) prize money that is on offer for the men’s doubles winners in the season finale.
In the men’s singles, top qualifier Lee Chong Wei will have a tough time winning the Finals for the fourth time as all the qualifiers have confirmed their participation too.
Based on this year’s performances, Japan’s Kenichi Tago seems to be his main threat.
In the mixed doubles, an impressive cast will make their way to Malaysia and it will be almost impossible for Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying to be the first Malaysians to win it.
China have two strong pairs – Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei and Xu Chen-Ma Jin – while Indonesia also boast two lethal combinations in Tantowi Ahmad-Lilyana Natsir and Markis Kido-Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth. To spice up the competition, reigning Hong Kong Open champions Chris Adcock-Gabrielle White have also confirmed their entries.