By : K. M. Boopathy and Ajitpal Singh
PROJECT 2010-2012 shuttler Anita Kaur shocked 2005 Sea Games champion Adriyanti Firdasari of Indonesia to advance to the main draw of the Malaysia Open at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
Anita rallied from a sluggish start to thwart Adriyanti 16-21, 25-23, 21-19 in 46 minutes. She will take on Ya Jie of the Netherlands today.
It was a fine day for the women as Lydia Cheah also advanced to the main draw by defeating Larisa Griga of Ukraine 21-16, 21-10 in 23 minutes.
However, Lydia faces a tougher challenge in the main draw as she will meet Pi Hongyan of France in the first round.
"This is the first time I have reached the main draw in the tournament. I was trailing 16-18 in the second game but stopped following her rhythm and it helped me to win," said Anita.
"I have never played Ya Jie, and being the underdog, I hope to play as well I can."
The most exciting battle in the first round of the main draw today will be the all-Malaysia affair between top seed Lee Chong Wei (right) and Hafiz Hashim.
Chong Wei will start as the favourite but Hafiz has already declared he is ready to deliver a surprise.
Another Malaysian battle is also in store where Roslin Hashim will play Sairul Amar Ayub while Wong Choong Hann will take on old foe Chen Hong of China in another tough opening round.
Yeoh Kay Bin's back will be against the wall when he takes on third seed Chen Jin of China but Lee Tsuen Seng stands a fighting chance against Ng Wei of Hong Kong.
In the men's doubles, top seeds Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong open their campaign against Indonesia's Hendra Gunawan-Joko Riyadi while veterans Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah face compatriots Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong in the first round.
There is also good news for Wong Mew Choo as World No 1 Xie Xingfang of China, whom the Malaysian was supposed to meet in the quarter-finals of the women's singles, withdrew from competition.
Women's doubles top seeds Wei Yili-Zhang Yawen of China and their compatriots Zheng Bo-Gao Ling, the mixed doubles World No 1, also pulled out from the competition yesterday.
This leaves Kien Keat-Boon Heong as the only top ranked pair to compete in the Malaysia Open.