PETALING JAYA: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei was on fire, as usual, but it was yet another first round stinker for national champion Chong Wei Feng in the Korean Open in Seoul.
Defending champion Chong Wei breezed past local hopeful Son Wan-ho 21-11, 21-18 despite the chilly conditions on the courts on Wednesday.
Wei Feng showed that he still has a lot to learn in terms of adapting to treacherous playing conditions en route to falling to an 18-21, 11-21 defeat to towering Russian shuttler Vladimir Ivanov in 35 minutes.
It was his second straight first round loss in an international tournament, following the shocker at the Myanmar SEA Games last month.
Chong Wei, clearly not too pleased at seeing his compatriot fall so early, offered some words of wisdom.
“It’s not ideal to see Wei Feng lose so early … he certainly has a lot to learn still,” said Chong Wei.
“He’s not a young player any more … he has to learn how to adapt to tough playing conditions like this, where it is cold and chilly and there is a draught.
“There are several other tournaments where the conditions will be just as cold as this.
“Basically, he needs to help himself. The coaches and I can only do so much in giving him advice … he has to learn how to be more confident in his matches.”
Chong Wei, meanwhile, is enjoying a better start to the year.
“I’m definitely playing better at the start of this year compared to last year,” said Chong Wei, who will go on to meet Germany’s Marc Zwiebler in the second round.
“In the first game against Wan-ho, I had it pretty easy because he was struggling with the pace. After that, he got better and made it harder.
“It’s a good start for me and I’ll definitely continue to give my best and try to win.”
In the men’s doubles, national champions and world No. 8 Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong also bit the dust after going down 9-21, 13-21 to China’s Kang Jun-Liu Cheng.
“It’s a sad way to start the new year but we weren’t playing well at all because I was hampered by a hip problem and I couldn’t move so well,” lamented Wee Kiong.
“While it’s disappointing to start with a defeat, I’m sure we can turn it around in the Malaysian Open (Jan 14-19) because I should be able to recover by then.”
It was left to third-ranked Malaysian pair Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah to bring some cheer to the doubles camp as they battled from a game down to beat England’s Chris Langridge-Peter Mills 14-21, 21-17, 21-18.
Second seeds Kim Ki-jung-Kim Sa-rang of South Korea were the other high profile first-round casualties, falling to a surprise defeat to Japan’s Keigo Sonoda-Takashi Kamura.
The Korean pair, who made the final of the Super Series Finals last month, lost 17-21, 19-21.