PETALING JAYA: Malaysia's seasoned campaigners, led by Japan Open champion Lee Chong Wei, made it to the third round of the Taiwan Open in Taipei yesterday but it was the end of the road for the Project 2010-2012 players.
National number one Chong Wei began his bid for his first back-to-back titles in his career with a 21-10, 21-16 win over Indonesian youngster Ari Yuli Wahyu. He went on to chalk up a 21-10, 21-12 victory over Japan's Yousuke Nakanishi to set up a third-round match against Hong Kong's Ng Wei.
Joining him in the last 16 stage of competition today are Mohd Hafiz Hashim, Wong Choong Hann, Yeoh Kay Bin and KLRC's Sairul Amar Ayob.
Hafiz clears the early rounds by beating Koichi Saeki of Japan 21-18, 21-19 and Liao Sheng-shiun of Taiwan 21-9, 21-14.
Having failed to get past the first round of five Open tournaments this year, the performance yesterday will lift his spirits for the match against Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia. Taufik toiled to beat Poompat Sapkulchananart of Thailand 26-24, 19-21, 21-18 to reach the third round.
Kay Bin brought out his best to defeat Singapore's Ronald Susilo 21-18, 15-21, 23-21 and then beat Lee Chen-yen of Taiwan 21-15, 21-9 for a place in the third round where he will face team-mate Choong Hann.
Bukit Jalil Sports School's (BJSS) Mohd Arif Latif failed in his bid to reach the third round, losing 9-21, 10-21 to Indonesian number two Simon Santoso. Arif's team-mate Lim Fang Yang also bowed out, losing 20-22, 19-21 to Japanese Shoji Sato.
Thailand SEA Games-bound shuttler Tan Chun Seang and Lim Kenn were first-round casualties.
Wong Mew Choo and Julia Wong also advanced to the second round of the women's singles competition.
Malaysia will no longer have an interest in the mixed doubles. All four pairs crashed out in the first round