AN overnight fever did not stop national number one Lee Chong Wei from reaching the second round of the Malaysian Open at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
Seasoned campaigner Wong Choong Hann and KLRC Bhd’s Sairul Amar Ayob gave better performances in their chase to win valuable Olympic ranking points and joined Chong Wei in the second round.
The top seeded Chong Wei, who is now ranked number two in the world and virtually assured of a place in the Beijing Games, had to dig deep into his reserves to beat compatriot Mohd Hafiz Hashim 21-17, 21-16 in a 35-minute match.
Hafiz dished out a good attacking game, which had been missing from his armoury for some time. But a lack of fitness let him down.
Chong Wei will be up against Poland’s Wacha Przemyslaw today and he said that he expected a tough match.
“I fell ill last night. In fact, I was in the rest room just minutes before my match because of a stomach upset. But I am glad that I pulled through the first round. Hafiz certainly did not make it easy for me,” he said.
“I am sorry for my friend Hafiz. I know he badly wanted to gain some points for the Olympics. I hope he will go far in the Korean Open next week.
“Wacha did well to beat Chen Yu and Chen Jin last year. I will certainly not take his challenge lightly. I will take a good rest.”
Choong Hann, who is ranked at number 16 in the world, had his easiest outing against Chen Hong of China yesterday, wrapping up the first-round match 21-13, 21-8 in just 27 minutes.
Choong Hann will take on second seeded Chinese Bao Chunlai today.
“Chen Hong was not himself at all and I did not have to work hard for the win. But I am pleased with my movement on court,” he said.
“I beat Chunlai in the Taiwan Open last year. But he has been playing very well since then and I can expect a tough match.”
In another all-Malaysian encounter, there was joy for Sairul and heartbreak for another Olympic Games aspirant Mohd Roslin Hashim of Nusa Mahsuri.
The world number 30 ranked Sairul, who is making a comeback to the tournament after having to miss it last year, dashed Roslin’s hope of collecting valuable Olympic ranking points, securing a hard-fought 11-21, 21-14, 21-16 win in 61 minutes.
Sairul will take on South Korean Shon Seung-mo for a place in the quarter-finals.
It was the end of the road for Tan Chun Seang, Yeoh Kay Bin and KLRC Bhd’s Lee Tsuen Seng.
Chun Seang gave a spirited display but ran out of the steam in the decider, losing 21-16, 18-21, 14-21 to India’s Anup Sridhar.
Kay Bin and Tsuen Seng were beaten by China’s Chen Jin and Hong Kong’s Ng Wei respectively.