March 28 NST COMMONWEALTH Games champion Lee Chong Wei, in the absence of the world’s elite players, is set to clinch his first Asian Badminton Championships title which begin in Johor Baru tomorrow. Having already won the Swiss Open in January and winning the men’s singles gold medal with ease in Melbourne on Sunday, top-seeded Chong Wei has only one obstacle, Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuncoro, standing between him and the Asian crown. The absence of top shuttlers, especially from China, has given Chong Wei an easy path until the semi-finals where he is likely to meet Sony, a three-time Asian champion, who beat the World No 2 in their last meeting in the team event of the Manila Sea Games last year. However, current form and Chong Wei’s excellent home record suggests that he will be the player to beat. Should Chong We beat Sony, he is likely to meet second seed and compatriot Hafiz Hashim in a title showdown, that is if Hafiz can advance from a string of tough matches and overcome his inconsistency. Up-and-coming Indonesian Simon Santoso, who toppled Chong Wei in the men’s singles semi-finals at the Sea Games, will provide the biggest test when he meets Hafiz in the third round. A win over Simon will set up a quarter-final encounter against another experienced shuttler, Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand, and assuming the Malaysian advances, it gets tougher as Hafiz is expected to meet either joint-third seed Wong Choong Hann or China’s Chen Yu in the semi-finals. In the men’s doubles, a world class field will be in action as Indonesia have sent their best led by World No 2 Candra Wijaya-Sigit Budiarto. Malaysia’s best bets are newly crowned Commonwealth Games gold medallists Chan Chong Ming-Koo Kien Keat but they are drawn to meet Candra-Sigit in the semi-finals. Choong Tan Fook will resume his combination again with regular partner Lee Wan Wah, returning from a three-week layoff due to knee injury, and they are likely to meet Sea Games champions Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan in the quarter-finals. In the women’s doubles, Commonwealth Games champions Wong Pei Tty-Chin Eei Hui have a realistic chance of winning their first grand prix title as they are the top seeds in the four-star event. Though players from China and South Korea are absent, Pei Tty-Eei Hui must still overcome their bogey pair Chien Yu Chin-Cheng Wen Hsing of Taiwan in the last four before thinking about the title. Wong Mew Choo, seeded joint third, should also face a difficult time to justify her seeding as she will be up against Japan’s Kanao Yonekura in the quarter-finals.