SEOUL: Malaysian number one Lee Chong Wei breezed into the second round of the Korean Open, which began here yesterday. And he will play in a repeat of the Malaysian Open final against local hope Lee Hyun-il today for a place in the quarter-finals.
The second seeded Chong Wei, who won the Malaysian Open last Sunday, took only 23 minutes to beat Canadian Andrew Dabeka.
Chong Wei is gunning for a fifth consecutive Super Series final appearance but he cannot expect another easy match against the fast improving South Korean, who rallied from 15-19 down in the second game to beat Sho Sasaki of Japan 21-14, 21-19 yesterday.
Top Malaysian women's singles player Wong Mew Choo muffed a good opportunity to make a second consecutive semi-finals appearance in the Super Series. She was beaten 11-21, 16-21 in the first round by South Korean Lee Yun-hwa.
With top seed Xie Xingfang of China having withdrawn from the tournament, the chance were bright for Mew Choo to reach the last four if she had beaten Yun-hwa.
Julia Wong found herself an unlikely survivor in the women’s singles competition when she beat Salakjit Ponsana of Thailand 21-16, 21-15. But her run is expected to end today against reigning Olympic champion Zhang Ning of China.
In the men's singles, Mohd Hafiz Hashim's wretched form continues when he crashed to an 12-21, 10-21 defeat in 27 minutes by Indonesia’s Simon Santoso.
In the Malaysian Open, he was also a first-round casualty, losing to Chong Wei. And the latest defeat could well put an end to his hopes to qualify for the Beijing Olympics in August.
Hafiz has no choice but to produce spectacular results in the All-England and Swiss Opens in March if he hopes to get among the top 16 before the Olympic qualification deadline at the end of April. He is now ranked at number 17.
Elder brother Roslin, who is ranked at number 20, was sent packing 16-21, 17-21 in 39 minutes by Japan's Shoji Sato.
Joining the Hashim brothers on the scrap heap yesterday were Yeoh Kay Bin and KLRC Bhd's Sairul Amar Ayob. Kay Bin lost 14-21, 13-21 to World Championships runners-up Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia while Sairul went down 13-21, 17-21 to Chan Yan Kit of Hong Kong.
Choong Hann was the only other Malaysian men’s singles player besides Chong Wei to survive the first round of the competition.
The former national number one battled to beat KLRC’s Lee Tsuen Seng 19-21, 21-16, 21-10 in 56 minutes and has a chance to avenge his defeat in the second round of the Malaysian Open when he plays against third seed Bao Chunlai for a place in the quarter-finals today.
In the men’s doubles, Malaysian representatives Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Latif and Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng advanced to the second round in contrasting fashion.
Fairuzizuan-Zakry chalked up a convincing 21-5, 21-13 win over Russians Vitalij Durkin-Alexandr Nikolaenko while the former top national pair of Chong Ming-Choon Eng forced their way back from one game down to beat South Koreans Cho Gun-woo-Yoo Yeon-seong 24-26, 21-18, 21-19.