BUKIT JALIL: When all others fell on the wayside, the ever-dependable world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei stayed rock steady to reach the men’s singles second round at the Maybank Malaysian Open at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
On Wednesday, top seed Chong Wei hardly raised a sweat when he disposed of Hans-Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark 21-7, 21-13 in just 35 minutes.
He will take on former world junior champion Wang Zhengming of China in the second round on Thursday.
Chong Wei is once again the sole survivor in the men’s singles after both Liew Daren and Chong Wei Feng were sent spinning out of the tournament.
Daren, who has just recoverd from a hamstring injury, was toothless against seventh seed Du Pengyu of China in his 14-21, 13-21 defeat.
Wei Feng, who is nursing a slight back problem, also failed to lift the gloom in the men’s singles when he was out of sorts in his 13-21, 19-21 defeat to Sho Sasaki of Japan.
The number of Malaysians in the home tournament has dwindled but Chong Wei promises to go the distance to keep the Malaysian flag flying.
“I won my match today but it was not one of my best performances. I will have to step up tomorrow,” said Chong Wei.
“Many of the Malaysians have been eliminated today but I will fight on.”
On his second round face-off with Zhengming, he said: “This is my first Chinese hurdle and I know what to expect from him. I will be prepared.”
Both Daren and Wei Feng were disappointed that they could not join Chong Wei.
Said Daren: “The fear of aggravating my injury was there and I could not stay focused. I made many errors.”
Said Wei Feng: “There was a combination of many factors that led to my defeat today. I did not play my game and I also added undue pressure on myself when I saw many other Malaysians crashing out.”
The highlight of Wednesday’s men’s singles was the meeting of two former world junior champions – Kento Momota of Japan and Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen.
The duo proved that they have the qualities of stars when they fought valiantly but in the end, it was Kento, who made it through after a sensational 12-21, 24-22, 21-18 win to set up a match against South Korean Shon Wan-ho.
Other fancied players – Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark, Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand and Kenichi Tago of Japan eased into the second round.