PETALING JAYA: Malaysians Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong are set to become the world number one pair for the first time after completing their great run in Macau yesterday.
In an all-Malaysian final, the world number three defeated veterans Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah 21-18, 17-21, 23-21 to claim their sixth international title within a year.
After a good start, it looked as though the jinx of Kien Keat-Boon Heong against compatriots on the international stage would continue.
Their second game was littered with mistakes and they were staring at defeat, trailing 17-20 in the decider. But the youngsters came alive at the crucial moments to pull through.
In previous matches against team-mates in international tournaments this year, they had ended up as losers. They were beaten by Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif in the Singapore Open and lost to Tan Fook-Wan Wah at the Asian Championships this year.
Winning the Macau Open comes as a big relief for Kien Keat-Boon Heong, who went through a lean spell which resulted in a strained relationship. The duo had taken the world by storm after forging a partnership a year ago. They won the Asian Games gold medal and took the Open titles of Malaysia, England and Switzerland.
En route to the final in Macau, they beat South Koreans Jung Jae-sung-Lee Yong-dae and reigning world champions Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia.
National coach Rexy Mainaky was all smiles.
“The world's best four pairs were there (in Macau). And I certainly want to thank and congratulate the players for a job well done. I am also happy with my assistant (Pang Cheh Chang) for his guidance to ensure an all-Malaysian final,” said Rexy.
“Our players, especially Koo and Tan, achieved several firsts in Macau. By beating the Koreans, they have beaten all the top pairs in the world. And I am happy with the way they whitewashed the world champions. They have also beaten a fellow Malaysian pair for the first time.
“With their good showings (both Kien Keat-Boon Heong and Tan Fook-Wan Wah), I may still be able to achieve at least one of my targets – to see Malaysians occupying the top two places in the world rankings by the end of the year.”
The current top two are Markis-Hendra and China's Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng. But Rexy is optimistic that Kien Keat-Boon Heong will be number one in the next ranking list.
“The points between these pairs are very close and by winning today, they will most probably be the top pair,” he said. “I hope they will continue with their winning ways in Europe. They will play in the Super Series tournaments in Denmark and France.”
Meanwhile, it was heartbreak again for Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia when he finished as the bridesmaid in his third consecutive international tournaments.
Taufik, who was the runner-up in Japan and Taiwan Open, was beaten 21-19, 17-21, 18-21 by Chen Jin of China in the final yesterday.