Shuttler needs to show that he still can hack it with the big boys


PETALING JAYA: Malaysian singles shuttler Kuan Beng Hong has a chance to show he can still hack it in the big league after gaining a place in the main draw of the Indonesian Open alongside Lee Chong Wei, Wong Choong Hann and Mohd Hafiz Hashim.

In the qualifying tournament yesterday, Beng Hong defeated Chinese junior Qiu Yanbo 18-21, 21-17, 21-7 and went on to score a 21-23-, 21-17, 21-19 win over Czech Republic’s Petr Koukal.

And Beng Hong has the chance to show national chief coach Rashid Sidek that he deserves more outings in Super Series tournaments when he takes on China’s No. 2 Chen Jin in the first round today.

Hafiz is also in a similar situation. Like Beng Hong, he was left out of the Singapore Open last week.

Hafiz should beat Danish qualifier Hans Kristian Vittinghus in the opening round but a better marker of his ability will be against Chong Wei tomorrow.

Also facing a tough opening round is Choong Hann, who will be up against Thai qualifier Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk. A win should give him a second round match against defending champion Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia.

Rashid hoped that world No. 1 Chong Wei will not be the sole Malaysian survivor after the early round matches.

“I hope to see Beng Hong create an upset and show that Malaysian singles is not just about Chong Wei,” he said.

“He is capable of playing well but the thing is he lacks the mental toughness to come out of tough situations. It will also be a good chance to see his level of fitness as he went through two tough matches today.”

As for Chong Wei, his hopes to bag a second Indonesian Open title will receive a major test in a projected semi-final match on Saturday against Lin Dan.

Chong Wei, who won the event in 2007, went down in straight games to the Olympic champion in the semi-finals of the Sudirman Cup tie in Guangzhou last month.

However, the Malaysian triumphed in their last Super Series meeting at the Swiss Open in April.

Chong Wei will also be out to bounce back after a shock second-round defeat by Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh in the Singapore Open last week. Also in Chong Wei’s quarter of the draw are Indonesian Simon Santoso and South Korean Park Sung-hwan.

Former national doubles players Gan Teik Chai-Tan Bin Shen failed in their bid to reach the main draw yesterday. They were beaten 19-21, 15-21 by American pair Howard Bach-Tony Gunawan, who were world champions in 2005.


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