PETALING JAYA: The men’s doubles pair of Hoon Thien How-Lin Woon Hui, playing in only their second tournament together, rose to the occasion to sent South Korea’s Lee Yong-dae-Shin Baek-cheol packing in a first-round match of the Asian Badminton Championships (ABC) in Suwon yesterday.
Thien How-Woon Fui defeated the All-England and Swiss Open semi-finalists 21-18, 21-16 in 38 minutes to provide the much needed lift for Malaysian camp after the exit of all but one player in the men’s singles competition.
Mohd Hafiz Hashim, who had been looking to capitalise on the withdrawal of top seed Chen Jin to reach his second successive final appearance after the India Open, stumbled to a 14-21, 21-14, 14-21 defeat by 2007 world junior champion Chen Long of China in the second round.
And the only Malaysian men’s singles player left in contention was Kuan Beng Hong, who beat Filipino Kennevic Asuncion 21-14, 21-13. But Beng Hong faces a tall order to advance in a third-round match today against fourth seed Bao Chunlai.
Hafiz and Beng Hong were the only Malaysians to win their opening round matches. The others — Chong Wei Feng, Tan Chun Seang, Mohd Arif Abdul Latif and Liew Daren — all fell by the wayside.
With Malaysia’s interest in the singles all but over, the focus will shift to their challenge in the men’s doubles.
Besides fifth seed Thien How-Woon Fui, Khoo Chung Chiat-Ong Soon Hock also cleared their first-round hurdle yesterday.
The seventh seeded Chung Chiat-Soon Hock overcame South Koreans Kim Dae-eun-Kim Ki-eung 21-15 21-17 but Mak Hee Chun-Tan Wee Kiong were shown the exit, going down 10-21, 16-21 to Taiwan’s Cheng Hung-ling-Lin Yu-lang.
Thien How-Woon Fui and Chung Chiat-Soon Hock will again be up against Korean pairs in the second round today and doubles chief coach Rexy Mainaky hopes that his charges will be able to keep up their momentum.
Thien How-Woon Fui have a slightly better chance to reach the quarter-finals against qualifiers Chung Eei-seok-Kwon Yi-goo but Chung Chiat-Soon Hock will find it tough against All-England runners-up Hwang Ji-man-Han Sang-hoon.
“When the draw came out, I honestly thought Woon Fui-Thien How did not stand a chance against Yong-dae-Baek-cheol,” said Rexy.
“The Koreans always find good doubles combinations and appeared as though Yong-dae-Baek-cheol got it right when they won the German Open recently in their first tournament together.
“Thien How has never feared playing the Chinese or the Koreans and his partnership with Woon Fui certainly looked solid thus far. I hope they can keep it up to reach at least the semi-finals,” said Rexy.
Thien How won the world junior title with Tan Boon Heong in 2004 but he was later paired up with seasoned campaigners Chan Chong Ming and Ong Soon Hock.
* Matches involving Malaysians
■ FIRST ROUND
Men’s singles: Du Pengyu (Chn) bt Chong Wei Feng 21-10, 21-7; Ng Wei (Hkg) bt Tan Chun Seang 21-17, 21-11; Mohd Hafiz Hashim bt Paneru Raju (Ind) 21-6, 21-7; Kuan Beng Hong bt Yamada Kazushi (Jpn) 21-15, 21-13; Liao Sheng-shiun (Tpe) bt Mohd Arif Abdul Latif 21-19, 21-19; Sho Sasaki (Jpn) bt Liew Daren 7-21, 21-16, 21-11.
Men’s doubles: Cheng Hung-ling-Lin Yu-lang (Tpe) bt Mak Hee Chun-Tan Wee Kiong 21-10, 21-16; Hoon Thien How-Lin Woon Fui bt Shin Baek-cheol-Lee Yong-dae (Kor) 21-18, 21-16; Khoo Chung Chiat-Ong Soon Hock bt Kim Dae-eun-Kim Ki-eung (Kor) 21-15, 21-17.
Women’s singles: Wong Mew Choo bt Mong Kwan Yi (Hkg) 21-8, 21-9; Chen Hsiao-huan (Tpe) bt Lydia Cheah 18-21, 22-20, 21-13; Julia Wong bt Jang Soo-young (Kor) 21-18, 21-11; Lu Lan (Chn) bt Sannatasah Saniru 21-9, 21-12.
Women’s doubles: Woon Khe Wei-Marylen Ng Poau Leng bt Sato Sayaka-Kusuhose Yuka (Jpn) 14-21, 22-20, 21-18; Cheng Hsiao Yun-Wang Pei Rong (Tpe) bt Goh Liu Ying-Abdul Latif Nairul Suhaida 25-27, 21-19, 21-16; Ma Jin-Wang Xiaoli (Chn) bt Amelia Anscelly-Lim Yin Loo 21-4, 21-16.
Mixed doubles: Mohd Razif Abdul Latif-Woon Khe Wei bt Kazuno Kenta-Kakiiwa Reika (Jpn) 21-19, 19-21, 21-16; Lim Khim Wah-Marylen Ng Poau Leng bt Hashimoto Hirokatsu-Fujii Mizuki (Jpn) 21-18, 14-21, 21-14; Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying bt Kwon Yi-goo-Yoo Hyun-young (Kor) 21-13, 22-20; Sudket Prapakamol-Saralee Thoungthongkam (Tha) bt Ong Jien Guo-Chong Sook Chin 22-24, 21-15, 22-20.
■ SECOND ROUND
Men’s singles: Kuan Beng Hong bt Kennevic Asuncion (Phi) 21-14, 21-13; Chen Long (Chn) bt Mohd Hafiz Hashim 21-14, 14-21, 21-14.