PETALING JAYA: SEA Games women’s doubles champions Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei had an underwhelming start to the year, losing in the first round of the Malaysian Open last week.
Hopes were high on Vivian-Khe Wei to step up their performances after winning Malaysia’s first gold in badminton at the SEA Games since 2009 when they defeated the higher ranked Nitya Krishinda Maheshwari-Greysia Polii of Indonesia in Myanmar.
But their deficiencies were severely exposed by a new combination from China – Ma Jin-Tang Yuanting.
Now, the world No. 20 Malaysian pair are seeking to make amends when they compete in the India Open GP Gold, which starts on Wednesday at Lucknow.
“I have to admit that we really didn’t play well during the Malaysian Open,” said the 23-year-old Vivian.
“Because of that we are extra motivated to have a better outing in India and perform to our standards. After all, nobody likes to win only once.
“The draw here is pretty decent for us as we do not meet any seeded combinations in the early rounds. We’re definitely hoping to go far.”
The pair are seeded second in India and receive a first-round bye before facing local pair Jagriti Nashier-Jyoti Nashier in the second round.
They should enjoy an easy run into the semi-finals, where they are tipped to meet fourth seeds Yu Xiaohan-Huang Yaqiong of China.
“That young Chinese pair will definitely be our main threat right now. We’ve already lost to them once … during the Macau Open last year,” said Vivian.
“But they are not unbeatable and I believe we can definitely overcome them if we remain focused and stick to our game plan.”
Besides Vivian-Khe Wei, two other pairs – Amelia Alicia Anscelly-Soong Fie Cho and Lee Meng Yean-Lim Yin Loo – are also in the fray.
The India Open, which lacks several top names, will be the best venue for the budding men’s singles shuttlers to show what they are made of … especially with world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei already hinting of retiring soon.
Among the lot, reigning Asian Junior champion Soo Teck Zhi, who showed lots of potential en route to a gritty loss to compatriot Iskandar Zulkarnian Zainuddin in the Malaysian Open, will be expected to rise to the occasion.
The lanky 18-year-old will face India’s Deepak Khatri in the first round. A win will pit him against second seed Ajay Jayaram, also of India.
The others hoping to make their mark will be Iskandar, Goh Soon Huat, Soong Joo Ven, Chong Yee Han, Tan Kian Meng, Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub and former world junior champion Zulfadli Zulkiffli.