Tokyo: On Tuesday, two time Olympics gold medalist, Lin Dan had a scare in his first qualifying match when he lost the first set to Japan’s Kazumasa Sakai 12-21, before fighting hard in second set to fend off Sakai’s late comeback with 21-19 win, and eventually took the third set 21-7.
In a different match, Daren Liew started his first qualifying round smoothly by beating France’s Thomas Rouxel 21-17, 21-18 in 33 minutes.
Just when people would have expected Lin Dan to show signs of fatigue from his 62 minutes battle with Sakai, the sizzling hot Lin Dan proved he was still too much for Daren to handle in the second qualifying round. Daren offered some resistance in the first set where he was once leading 15-12 before Lin Dan started his counter attacks to score the next 5 consecutive points, and went on to win the first set 21-18. After the score was tied at 8-8 in the second set, Lin Dan gave no chance to Daren to prevail with 21-15.
Malaysia’s hope is now relies on world number one Lee Chong Wei and Chong Wei Feng.
Lee Chong Wei who has won the Japan Open in 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013 is looking for his fifth Japan Open title. He will meet Taiwanese qualifier Shih Kuei-chun in the opening round while Chong Wei Feng will play a tough match against sixth seed Son Wan-ho of South Korea in the first round.
In men’s doubles, Lim Khim Wah-Ow Yao Han were sent packing in the second qualifying round by losing to Japan’s Takuto Inoue-Yuki Kaneko 13-21, 18-21.
On Wednesday, it’s going to be interesting to see Tan Boon Heong seeking revenge against Hiroyuki Endo-Kenichi Hayakawa of Japan for his lost to the Japanese pair in Thomas Cup final last month.
Other Malaysian pairs such as world No. 7 Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong, Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei, Chan Peng Soon-Lai Pei Jing will play in the main draw on Wednesday.