Lee Chong Wei making "encouraging progress" after cancer treatment

Malaysia's three-time Olympic silver medallist misses Malaysia Open but could return at next month's Sudirman Cup.

By Rory Jiwani

Three-time badminton Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei is weeks away from a return to action.

The Malaysian has not competed since he was diagnosed with nose cancer in July 2018, but resumed training in January after completing his treatment.

Lee had hoped to make his comeback in this week's Malaysia Open, the tournament he has won a record 12 times.

The 36-year-old was on the initial entry lists, but he will not defend his title with next month's Sudirman Cup - the first major competition with Olympic qualifying points at stake - now his most likely starting point.

Malaysia's national men’s singles coach, former world champion Hendrawan, would not be drawn on Lee's participation at the team event in China but said his charge was "on the right track".

He added, "All I can say is that Chong Wei is making encouraging progress. We are increasing the frequency of his training sessions from three days a week to six."

Momota takes star billing

All eyes will be on Lee's victim in last year's final, world number one Kento Momota, in Kuala Lumpur.

The Japanese beat Viktor Axelsen to claim the first BWF World Tour Super 1000 title of the year, the All England Open, last month in Birmingham.

The Malaysia Open is the first Super 750 event of 2019 with all the big names - minus Lee - in attendance.

And Momota has a tricky opener, against Axelsen's experienced compatriot Jan Ø. Jørgensen.

Double Olympic champion Lin Dan is in desperate need of a boost after his latest first-round exit in Birmingham.

The 35-year-old's most recent disappointment resulted in further calls from some sections of the Chinese press for him to retire before Tokyo 2020.

Now down to 16 in the world, Lin could struggle again as he faces third seed Chou Tien-chen of Chinese Taipei first up on Wednesday.

With a maximum of two players from each nation allowed in Tokyo, the odds are currently very much against Lin bidding for a third Olympic gold.

Axelsen followed up his All England final appearance with victory in the India Open.

The 2017 world champion defeated home favourite Kidambi Srikanth in the final in New Delhi, but he will hope Momota suffers an early mishap in Malaysia.

Viktor Axelsen congratulates champion Kento Momota after the 2019 All England Open final in Birmingham

The Dane, bronze medallist at Rio 2016, has lost his last 10 matches against the left-hander with the pair drawn to face each other in the quarter-finals.

Reigning Olympic champion Chen Long is seeded four with Shi Yuqi, who missed the India Open on medical grounds, the second seed.

Nehwal back in the fray

London 2012 bronze medallist Saina Nehwal returns to World Tour action after developing mild pancreatitis while in England where she reached the quarter-finals.

The illness ruled the 29-year-old out of the India Open where compatriot PV Sindhu went out in the semi-finals.

Sindhu, silver medallist from Rio 2016 and the last two World Championships, is the fifth seed and could meet China's All England champion Chen Yufei in the quarter-finals.

Reigning world and Olympic champion Carolina Marin remains on the sidelines after knee surgery with the Spaniard not expected to return until July at the earliest.

Former world champion Ratchanok Intanon was victorious in New Delhi, beating China's He Bingjiao in the final, and she is seeded seventh in Kuala Lumpur.