By : K.M. Boopathy
LEE Chong Wei got the better of Hafiz Hashim in what was a tame affair, while Wong Choong Hann was sent packing in the first round of the Japan Open at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium yesterday.
Chong Wei, the fourth seed, encountered some resistance in the first game against his compatriot before winning 22-20, 21-8 in 29 minutes to advance.
Hafiz’s performance was only slightly better than when suffering a 21-10, 21-6 hiding from Chong Wei in the Kedah Open final on Saturday, Hafiz will need to improve out of sight if he hopes to qualify for next year’s Beijing Olympics.
Choong Hann, who is aiming to capitalise on Hafiz’s poor form and pip him to an Olympics spot, did not help his cause when losing 21-15, 21-15 to Peter Gade Christensen in 37 minutes.
Meanwhile, Chong Wei’s second round grudge match against Sony Dwi Kuncoro will not happen after the Indonesian crashed 23-21, 21-16 to Ronald Susilo of Singapore.
Sony beat Chong Wei en route to last month’s World Championships final in Kuala Lumpur and the Malaysian was hoping to even the score. However, Chong Wei cannot afford to take Ronald lightly seeing that he won the 2004 Japan Open and must remain focused after having lost to the unpredictable Singapore player in the first round of the Swiss Open in March.
Roslin Hashim and Yeoh Kay Bin were the other Malaysians who advanced to the second round yesterday.
Roslin beat Singapore’s Kendrick Lee 21-17, 21-16 but faces an unenviable task against China’s world champion Lin Dan today. Lin Dan beat Joachim Persson of Denmark 21-18, 21-15 in the first round.
Kay Bin outlasted Shoji Sato of Japan 21-16, 25-23 but today faces a mammoth task against Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia. Taufik was in terrific form upsetting third seed Chen Hong of China 22-20, 18-21, 21-13.
Yesterday also saw another upset when Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana beat second seed Bao Chunlai of China 21-19, 12-21, 22-20 in his opening match.
In the women’s singles, Wong Mew Choo advanced to the second round beating Kim Moon Hi of South Korea 21-11, 21-18, but Julia Wong fell 21-15, 21-12 to another Korean Jun Jae Youn.
Mew Choo next meets second seed Xie Xingfang of China, who beat Judith Meulendijks of the Netherlands 15-21, 21-14, 21-18, today.