PETALING JAYA: The year is coming to a close but mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying showed they are not letting up in their pursuit for glory.
The young pairing delivered the first big upset of the Hong Kong Open badminton championships by bundling out world No. 2 Hendra Aprida Gunawan-Vita Marissa of Indonesia 21-14, 15-21, 21-16 in their opening match yesterday.
The pair took only 37 minutes to chalk up the impressive win and set up a date with another Indonesian pair – Fran Kurniawan Teng-Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth – for a place in the last eight today.
Liu Ying made it a double joy when she partnered Chin Eei Hui to overcome seventh seeds Zhang Dan-Zhang Zhibo of Macao 22-24, 21-15, 21-18 in the first round of the women’s doubles competition.
Peng Soon-Liu Ying are the only Malaysian pair left in the mixed doubles after the early exits of New Delhi Commonwealth Games champions Koo Kien Keat-Eei Hui and Hoon Thien How-Ng Hui Ern yesterday.
Kien Keat-Eei Hui fell 19-21, 21-16, 12-21 to South Korea’s Kim Ki-jung-Jang Ye-na while Thien How-Hui Ern went down 11-21, 6-21 to China’s Tao Jiaming-Qing Tian.
Mixed doubles coach Jeremy Gan hoped that Peng Soon-Liu Ying would have another good run in the final Super Series meet of the year after reaching the China Open semi-finals last week.
“These two back-to-back tournaments will give them the opportunity to strengthen their bid to take over as the top ranked mixed doubles pair in the country,” said Jeremy.
“They are currently ranked 32nd in the world and should overtake Ong Jien Guo-Chong Sook Chin, who did not play here. They have a break from the mixed doubles tomorrow and it will be good for them. Peng Soon will only play the men’s doubles (partnering Lim Khim Wah) tomorrow.”
Peng Soon-Liu Ying, the reigning Asian champions, will get a chance to avenge their China Open defeat by Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei if they reach the last four in Hong Kong this weekend.
Meanwhile, Liew Daren, Pei Wee Chung and Lydia Cheah all failed to clear their final qualifying hurdles.
Daren lost to China’s Wen Kai 15-21, 13-21 while Wee Chung was beaten 19-21, 21-17, 13-21 by Hong Kong’s Tam Chun Hei.
The glaring lack of depth in the singles department was evident with Lydia’s 15-21, 21-17, 20-22 defeat at the hands of unheralded Filipina Ann Venice Alcala.
The spotlight today will be on the men’s singles and doubles action as the world’s top ranked shuttlers fight it out to see who will grab the last Super Series prizes on offer.
Malaysia’s hopes are on Guangzhou Asian Games silver medallists Lee Chong Wei and Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong. Chong Wei, who skipped the China Open last week, will have to work hard to clear a minefield of obstacles if he is to continue his rivalry with Lin Dan.
Top seed Chong Wei, who meets Dane Christian Lind Thomsen today, is in the same half with team-mate Mohd Hafiz Hashim, Dane Jan Jorgensen, world champion Chen Jin and Lin Dan.
Lin Dan, however, has a tricky opening tie against Jorgensen while Hafiz will have to take on Chinese youngster Wang Zhengming today.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong, who are looking to bounce back after failing to retain their Asian Games title last month, open against Danes Mads Conrads-Petersen-Jonas Rasmussen today.
Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif-Hoon Thien How should also win their first round match against Filipino pair Philip Joper Escueta-Magnaye Peter Gabriel but Gan Teik Chai-Tan Bin Shen will be hard pressed to advance as they are up against world champions Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun of China.