WORLD No 1 Lee Chong Wei enjoyed two good warm-up matches to advance to the third round on a day when former Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat, India’s Chetan Anand and teammate Hafiz Hashim were shown the door in the Yonex-Sunrise Malaysia Open Grand Prix at the Johor Baru City Council Indoor Stadium yesterday.
Chong Wei, fresh from winning the Indonesia Open title, opened his campaign with an easy 21-12, 21-11 win over Singapore’s Derek Wong and later, disposed teammate Lim Fang Yang 21-9, 21-14 in 26 minutes to qualify for the third round.
The 27-year-old looked solid and confident, brushing aside concern over his physical condition after two back-to-back tournaments in Singapore and Indonesia.
"It was tough playing two matches in a day after two back-to-back tournaments (Singapore and Indonesia Opens). Though, I did not push myself hard, I won easily today (yesterday). I’m happy with my performance and fitness," said Chong Wei, who complained of back pains after his matches yesterday.
"I like winning in Malaysia and I will play hard to ensure I win the title, whether or not the back pain troubles me."
Chong Wei, however, will need to be cautious when he faces China’s Zhou Wenlong in the third round. The Malaysian has a developed habit of losing to China players of late and this encounter is expected to be tough for him.
Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, who won the recent National Junior Grand Finals title, earned his biggest career win when the Muar-born player upset World No 15 Chetan Anand of India 21-16, 18-21, 21-17 in 49 minutes in the first round.
However, Iskandar blew it in the second round when he was beaten 21-13, 24-22 by India’s Ajay Jayaram.
Hafiz, meanwhile, showed more signs that it is time for him to quit the national team when he went down 21-16, 18-21, 21-14 to unknown Hu Yun of Hong Kong.
The Malaysian said he had a bad day yesterday but promised a stronger performance in the coming months.
Among the others Malaysians in the third round are Kuan Beng Hong, Tan Chun Seang and Lee Tsuen Seng
Meanwhile, Chen Long turned on a powerful performance to stun second seed Taufik , the 2005 world champion, 21-14, 20-22, 21-19 in the first round.
Chen Long, who has yet to win a major senior title, declared that his win could be the breakthrough towards changing his fortune.
"The win has given me a lot of confidence and I believe I can go on and win this tournament," said Chen Long, who now could face Chong Wei in Sunday’s final.
This is Chen Long third biggest career win over established players. The 21-year-old defeated Chong Wei in the India Open and last month, overcame Olympic champion Lin Dan in the China Games.
In the women’s singles, Wong Mew Choo finally won her first match in her third tournament by easing off Canada’s Charmaine Reid 21-7, 21-11 and next plays S. Stephanie Shalini, who edged Linda Zechiri of Bulgaria 21-13, 21-15, in the second round.
Sannatasah Saniru and Lydia Cheah also made the second round.