DEFENDING champions Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong were made to sweat before marching into the men’s doubles quarter-finals of the badminton competition at the Tianhe Gymnasium yesterday.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong certainly did not have it all their way against the aggressive Indian pair of A. Sanave-Rupesh Kumar before prevailing 21-15, 21-19.
And now the Malaysians have Japan’s Hirokatsu Hashimoto-Noriyasu Hirata standing in their path for a place in the semi-finals. The Japanese certainly have it in them to send the Malaysians home without a medal.
Boon Heong said that the hard-fought win over the Indian pair was a good warm-up ahead the quarter-final clash with the Japanese.
“It was our first match in the individual competition and we did not hit off right away,” he said.
“The Indians were strong and showed more urgency compared to our previous encounter against them at the Delhi Commonwealth Games.
“Anyway, it was a good workout for us.”
Boon Heong, however, is confident of their chances in Guangzhou.
“We beat the Japanese in our last encounter against them in the Thomas Cup (group tie in May). It will not be easy but we will be ready for them,” he said.
Hashimoto-Hirata advanced to the quarter-finals by beating sixth seeds Ko Sung-hyun-Yoo Yeon-seong of South Korea 21-16, 21-19 in the second round.
Said Hirata: “We have played against the Malaysians four times and won twice. We are confident we can beat them again.”
In the men’s singles, Mohd Hafiz Hashim strolled into the second round with a 21-10, 21-8 win over Nepal’s Bikash Shrestha to set up a meeting with South Korean Park Sung-hwan.
There was a major upset in the men’s singles when Indonesia’s Sony Dwi Kuncoro, who is still nursing a back problem, crashed to a 13-21, 21-14, 17-21 defeat by Taiwan’s Chou Tien-chen.
It was a day of mixed fortunes for Malaysia in the women’s singles event.
Wong Mew Choo checked into the quarter-finals.
But Lydia Cheah’s campaign ended with a 15-21, 17-21 loss to second seed Saina Nehwal of India.
Mew Choo produced a wonderful performance to beat Indonesian Adriyanti Firdasari 21-19, 21-19 in a closely contested battle.
The 2007 China Open champion said: “It has been a while since I played like this. I was satisfied with my game.
“Hopefully, I will be able to keep my momentum going.”
Mew Choo will play against Japan’s Eriko Hirose for a place in the semi-finals.