By RAJES PAUL
PETALING JAYA: At the start of the year, the doubles pair of Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong saw the need to scramble for qualification to the World Championships this year.
But now, they can even look at getting a good seeding in the championships, which will be held at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil from Aug 13-19.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong have done well in the opening two rounds of the inaugural Super Series, winning the Malaysian Open title and making a semi-final appearance in the Korean Open, which ended in Seoul yesterday.
If they continue to get good results in the upcoming two rounds the All-England (March 6-11, Birmingham) and Swiss Open (March 13-18, Basel) Kien Keat-Boon Heong will find themselves among the top 16 ranked pairs in the world.
Prior to the Malaysian Open, Kien Keat-Boon Heong, who ended Malaysia’s 36-year wait for a gold medal in Asian Games badminton in Doha last month, were ranked 119th in the world.
|All-China affair: Lin Dan acknowledges the crowd after winning the singles final against Chen Jin in the Korea Open. The world champion won 21-14, 21-19. — AFP|
But they moved up to 50th spot after becoming the first qualifiers to lift the Malaysian Open title. They defeated the formidable American-Indonesian combination of Tony Gunawan-Candra Wijaya in the final.
With the semi-final appearance in the Korean Open, they can expect to break into the top 35.
On Saturday, Kien Keat-Boon Heong, who had marvelled in matches for about two weeks, collapsed with a tame 10-21, 16-21 defeat by South Korean Lee Jae-jin-Hwang Ji-man.
It was their first defeat to the Koreans after having beaten them en route to the Japan Open final, which was the first international tournament for Kien Keat and Boon Heong as a pair.
National chief coach Yap Kim Hock, who now sees the duo as potential world champions, said qualifying for the world championships would not be a problem for the duo.
They will now compete in the All-England and Swiss Open and they have to reach at least the quarter-finals. Probably, they will have to go through the qualifying tournament again at the All-England but let’s wait and see, said Kim Hock.
If they continue with their momentum, there is a possibility for them to be seeded at the world championships.
Kim Hock said that the rise of Kien Keat-Boon Heong would mean that one of the current top men’s pairs in the country would have to miss the world championships.
We now have three men’s pairs among the top 16. Kien Keat-Boon Heong may be able to overtake them if they continue doing well in international tournaments. A country can only have a maximum of three pairs in the world championships, he said.
The pairs ranked ahead of Kien Keat-Boon Heong are Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah (seventh), Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif-Gan Teik Chai (11th), Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Lin Woon Fui (12th) and Tan Bin Shen-Ong Soon Hock (29th).
On Kien Keat-Boon Heong’s performances in the Korean Open, Kim Hock said: They were tired, especially Kien Keat who also competed in the mixed doubles. But I have had a discussion with coach Rexy (Mainaky) and he would look at giving the players some breathing space.
In the men’s singles, Mohd Hafiz Hashim was Malaysia’s top performer, losing to Chen Jin of China in semi-finals. The highlight of the tournament for Hafiz was a victory Chen Hong the first for him over the veteran Chinese in two years.
Meanwhile, Chen Jin’s gallant run was ended by Lin Dan in the final. The world champion won 21-14, 21-19 in a 41-minute match yesterday.
Men’s singles: Lin Dan (Chn) bt Chen Jin (Chn) 21-14, 21-19.
Men’s doubles: Jung Jae-sung-Lee Yong-dae (Kor) bt Lee Jae-jin-Hwang Ji-man (Kor) 21-16, 21-15.
Women’s singles: Xie Xingfang (Chn) bt Zhu Lin (Chn) 21-14, 21-7.
Women’s doubles: Gao Ling-Huang Sui (Chn) bt Yang Wei-Zhang Jiewen (Chn) 12-21, 21-14, 21-16.
Mixed doubles: Zheng Bo-Gao Ling (Chn) bt Thomas Laybourn-Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Den) 22-20, 21-19.
(source: The Star Online)