PETALING JAYA: It looks like it is going to be the same old story for Malaysia in the men’s singles department this year after Lee Chong Wei was left alone to carry the country’s challenge after the second round matches in the Korean Open in Seoul yesterday.
The world No. 1 continued to be the only reliable singles player in the national team.
He defeated Germany’s Marc Zwiebler 21-18, 21-8 in 37 minutes to reach the quarter-finals.
Kuan Beng Hong was shown the exit, losing 15-21, 14-21 in 37 minutes to South Korean Park Sung-hwan.
The challenges of all the national back-up singles shuttlers – Liew Daren, Mohd Arif Abdul Latif, Chong Wei Feng and Tan Chun Seang – ended in either the qualifying tournament or the first round.
Chong Wei will face his first big test in Seoul against Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana today.
National singles chief coach Rashid Sidek concluded from the outcome of the Korean Open thus far that Chong Wei had set the trend for the year.
“The results have given me a big picture on what to expect from our singles players for the rest of the year. I will not be surprised if we continue to bank on Chong Wei for honours throughout the year as it was last year,” said Rashid.
“I am happy with Chong Wei’s form but I am sad that the others continue to fail in their efforts to make breakthroughs.”
Rashid feels that the only other singles player who they could probably count on this year is Mohd Hafiz Hashim.
Hafiz skipped the Korean Open to get better prepared for the Malaysian Open at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil next week.
“Hafiz is showing better commitment in training under Hendrawan. Hopefully, he can turn out to be the other player for us to count on this year,” said Rashid.
“It is an important year with the Thomas Cup Finals and Asian Games on the calendar. We hope Hafiz will show some promise in the Malaysian Open.”
On Chong Wei’s next opponent Boonsak, Rashid said: “On paper, Chong Wei should have the upper hand. He beat Boonsak in straight games at the Japan Open last year even though he had knee problems. Hopefully, he will make it.”
In the men’s doubles, seeded pairs Guo Zhengdong-Xu Chen of China and Lars Paaske-Jonas Rasmussen of Denmark were eliminated in the second round.
South Koreans Kim Ki-jung-Shin Baek-cheol defeated sixth seeded Zhengdong-Xu Chen 12-21, 22-20, 21-19 while Chinese youngsters Chai Biao-Zhang Nan pulled the rug from under the veteran Danish pair in their 21-14, 22-24, 21-10 win.
SECOND ROUND RESULTS
Men’s singles: Lee Chong Wei (Mas) bt Marc Zwiebler (Ger) 21-18, 21-8; Boonsak Ponsana (Tha) bt Hong Ji-hoon (Kor) 21-18, 21-16; Chen Jin (Chn) bt Dicky Palyama (Ned) 21-14, 21-17; Nguyen Tien Minh (Vie) bt Du Pengyu (Chn) 25-23, 15-21, 21-19; Chen Long (Chn) bt Kazushi Yamada (Jpn) 21-17, 21-12; Bao Chunlai (Chn) bt Carl Baxter (Eng) 21-17, 21-18; Park Sung-hwan (Kor) bt Kuan Beng Hong (Mas) 21-15, 21-14; Peter-Gade Christensen (Den) bt Rajiv Ouseph (Eng) 23-21, 22-20.
Men’s doubles: Jung Jae-sung-Lee Yong-dae (Kor) bt Jin Yong-hoon-Kim Dae-sun (Kor) 21-13, 21-9; Kim Ki-jung-Shin Baek-cheol (Kor) bt Guo Zhengdong-Xu Chen (Chn) 12-21, 22-20, 21-19; Chai Biao-Zhang Nan (Chn) bt Lars Paaske-Jonas Rasmussen (Den) 21-14, 22-24, 21-10; Ko Sung-hyun-Yoo Hyun-young (Kor) bt Hirokatsu Hashimoto-Noriyasu Hirata (Jpn) 21-15, 21-13; Hiroyuki Endo-Yoshiteru Hirobe (Jpn) bt Fang Chieh-min-Lee Sheng-mu (Tpe) 14-21, 21-15, 21-19; Alven Yulianto-Hendra Gunawan (Ina) bt Songphon Anugritayawan-Sudket Prapakamol (Tha) 21-13, 26-28, 22-20; Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng (Chn) bt Kasper Faust Hendriksen-Anders Kristiansen (Den) 21-10, 21-7; Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen (Den) bt Chung Eui-seok-Kim Dae-eun (Kor) 21-18, 21-12