Auckland: Malaysia’s World No. 21 Lee Zii Jia opened his 2019 New Zealand open campaign with a statement win, eliminating No.4 seed and World No. 10 Kenta Nishimoto of Japan in the first round on Wednesday by the score of 21-18, 21-12.
Lee is set to play another Japanese player Kazumasa Sakai next. Sakai defeated China’s Zhou Zeqi 14-21, 21-11, 21-15 in the first round.
Other Malaysian men’s singles player, Soong Joo Ven, however was sent packing by 39-year-old Lee Hyun-il of Korea, losing 19-21, 18-21. Lee will face No. 8 seed Angus Ng Ka Long of Hong Kong in the second round.
World No. 14 Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik who overtook World No. 15 Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong to become the highest ranked Malaysian pair in the latest BWF rankings, have made it into the second round of New Zealand Open by easing past Simon Wing Hang Leung/Mitchell Wheller of Australia 21-16, 21-11 in 29 minutes. They will play qualifiers Mahiro Kaneko/Yunosuke Kubota of Japan on Thursday.
Another Malaysian men’s pair, Teo Ee Yi/Ong Yew Sin also advanced to the second round as they upset World No. 11 Liao Min Chun/Su Ching Heng of Taiwan 21-16, 21-13 to set up second round encounter with Indonesian pair Akbar Bintang Cahyono/Moh Reza Pahlevi Isfahani.
The mixed doubles No. 2 seeds Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying came through their first-round ties unscathed as they downed Henrikho Kho Wibowo/Yulia Yosephin Susanto of Indonesia 21-13, 21-12. Chan/Goh will battle Edward Lau/Lalyssa Tagle of New Zealand in second round.
Players at New Zealand Open were hungry for 2020 Tokyo Olympic qualification as the one-year Olympic qualifying period for badminton began with the New Zealand Open in Auckland.