Ireland's Evans tipped for badminton upset
Updated: Thursday, 26 Jul 2012 16:04
Ireland's Scott Evans could have the best chance of anyone at London 2012 of beating badminton's greatest player.
That is the view of Badminton Ireland boss Richard Vaughan, who believes world number 76 Evans will be relishing being drawn against Olympic champion and hot favourite Lin Dan in the men's singles.
Lin may be seeded second this time, but the brilliant Chinese is widely regarded as the best of all time having won every major honour, including the All England Championships a record five times.
Yet while Lin may have fulfilled the expectations of around one billion Chinese in Beijing four years ago, it was a different case at Athens in 2004.
Then a precocious 20-year-old, Lin went to Greece as top seed but failed to live up to expectations as he crashed out to unheralded Singapore player Ronald Susilo in the first round.
Vaughan, the chief executive of Badminton Ireland and a former Olympics player himself, said: "Scott is playing the favourite but everyone knows Lin Dan is not the best in the first round.
"It is a tough draw but if you are going to play him then the first round is the best time.
"He lost in the first round in Athens in a similar situation where he was favourite. He gets better round after round.
"Where he hasn't won a tournament he's gone out in the first round. He rarely gets to a semi-final and loses.
"It is a really exciting draw for Scott and he did well against him in the World Championships last year. He is full of confidence."
The 24-year-old Dubliner has played Lin three times, losing each time.
Few will give him much chance of improving that record but Evans will hope to make the most of it as it could well be his only match of the Games in London.
Organisers have introduced a new round-robin competition at the first-round stage but half of the 16 groups, including that of Evans and Lin, comprise only two players. The pair will meet on Monday evening, the third day of competition.
Vaughan, a Welshman who represented Great Britain in singles in 2000 and 2004, said: "It is kind of a mixed bag. One, you are confident he can do well against him, but two, obviously, he could have a got an easier draw.
"But margins are quite slim and everyone is quite good.
"The biggest disappointment for Scott is that he only gets one game. In the other groups you get another chance.
"If you make a mistake you don't get another game to make up for it."
In the women's singles, world number 44 Chloe Magee will have two matches having been drawn against Pi Hongyan of France, a former world number two, and Egypt's Hadia Hosny in Group I.
She plays her first match against Hosny on Sunday evening and takes on Hongyan on Tuesday.
Vaughan said: "Chloe had a really close three-set match with Pi Hongyan in the Irish Open in December and for her the target will be to get through the group.
"It's been really good to watch the Irish players' preparations. They've both had really good practice and sparring. It's all good and positive.
"There is a large Irish contingent here, I keep bumping into them in the streets, and it is like having it at home. There is a lot of support for the Irish guys."