By : K.M. Boopathy
LOCAL tournaments may not be Lee Chong Wei’s priority anymore but he was in no mood to allow his four-year unbeaten run to come to an end as he advanced to the second round of the Kedah Open in Alor Star convincingly yesterday.
Chong Wei, the top seed, wasted little time in securing a 21-7, 21-9 win over back-up shuttler and training mate Lok Chong Chieh in 28 minutes. Chong Wei, after winning his fifth consecutive national grand prix crown in Kuala Terengganu in Janaury, stated that he planned to skip local events to focus his attention on the Beijing Olympics.
However, Chong Wei changed his mind and secured the Pahang Open title in May to qualify for the GP Finals, which is likely to be held in January, and make an attempt to equal the record for the most number of national titles held by his coach Misbun Sidek.
The Kedah Open is the second and final leg of the national circuit and Chong Wei may have to work harder as the tournament has attracted all the national senior players.
Chong Wei will meet national junior Vountus Indra Mawan in the second round today. Vountus defeated Sabah’s Nurdini Said 21-18, 21-11 in the first round.
Second seed Hafiz Hashim didn’t look that impressive as he reached the second round with a 21-11, 22-20 win over Selangor’s Hafiz Shaharuddin in 30 minutes and plays another national junior player Lim Fang Yang next.
Fang Yang shocked back-up player Chan Kwong Beng 21-18, 21-14 in the first round.
Joint third seed Wong Choong Hann had a comfortable 21-7, 21-11 win over Penang’s Ooi Swee Khoon to set up an exciting second round encounter against national junior champion Arif Latif, who beat Riko John of Negri Sembilan 21-9, 21-2, in the second round today.
Veteran Roslin Hashim who is competing in the local circuit for the first time since the 2005 Pahang Open, also stayed in the hunt after beating junior shuttler Zairul Hafiz Zainuddin 21-13, 21-14 and plays 2010-2012 project squad player Chong Li Qun in the second round.
The men’s doubles starts today.