Lee Chong Wei (right) and Tan Boon Heong taking a stroll at the Games Village yesterday.
ANYTHING less than an all-Malaysian men's singles final will be deemed a failure after the Commonwealth Games individual draw saw Lee Chong Wei and Hafiz Hashim in separate halves. Chong Wei, the top seed, received a first round bye and the only potential challenger to his bid for a second successive gold medal should be third seed Chetan Anand of India.
Chong Wei, who slayed nemesis Lin Dan of China in the Japan Open last week, shouldn't face any problems advancing to the last four as his half is littered with unknown players.
He plays the winner of the clash between Uganda's Abraham Kennedy Wogute and Alex Pang of Canada in the second round and it is script of unknowns that is repeated in the subsequent rounds until his probable clash with Chetan, who will be hopeful of upsetting Chong Wei with home ground support.
India also holds no fond memories for Chong Wei as he has suffered early round defeats in his last two trips here -- in the first round of the 2008 Indian Open and the quarter-finals of the 2009 World Championships.
Still, Chong Wei's confidence received a tremendous boost after the win over Lin Dan and a cruise to the gold medal here is just what he needs as preparation for next month's Asian Games, which are of a different level altogether.
Hafiz, seeded fourth and champion in the Manchester Games in 2002, also received a first round bye and despite his half of the draw only seeming to have England's Rajiv Ouseph, the second seed, as his potential challenger, the Malaysian has made it a habit to lose to lesser ranked players in recent times.
The BA of Malaysia, however, remains steadfast in its belief that Hafiz can still deliver and he has to in New Delhi.
Men's doubles Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boong Heong should also have it easy until the last four as they have to play some easy opposition en route.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong's form has been on an upswing in the last two tournaments, including an appearance in the World Championships final in August, and the lack of quality pairs here should mean a romp to the gold medal.
The Malaysians have a bye in the first round and their probable semi-final opponents should be Singapore's Hendri Kurniawan-Hendra Wijaya while England's Anthony Clark-Nathan Robertson are seeded to meet them in final.
Malaysia also sprang a surprise by pairing Hafiz with Chan Peng Soon in the doubles and it will be interesting to see what this scratch combination can achieve.
Women's singles Wong Mew Choo, seeded second, should face no problems until the semi-finals where she is likely to face either Elizabeth Cann of England or Singapore's Xing Aiying.
Lydia Cheah opens her campaign against Camille Allisen Camille of Seychelles before a second round meeting with third seed Susan Egelstaff of England.
The luck of the draw wasn't kind to women's doubles Chin Eei Hui-Woon Khe Wei who open their campaign against Gloria Najouka-Daisy Nakalyango before taking on second seeds Jwala Gutta-Ashwini Ponnappa of India.
Lydia Cheah-Goh Liu Ying will play Juliette Ah Wan-Camille of Seychelles in the first round.
Malaysia's mixed doubles campaign will see Kien Keat-Eei Hui, who could deliver a surprise medal, open against Alex Pang-Michelle Li of Canada while fourth seeds Peng Soon-Liu Ying have a first round bye.