By Tham Choy Lin
BEIJING, Aug 12 (Bernama) – They stepped into court fearing the worst but after 34 minutes, Malaysia's Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong came off winners over their opening rivals in the Olympics badminton men's doubles in clear jubilance.
"It is unbelieveable that we got our rhythm going again," said an elated Kien Keat after a display of their long-missed brilliance in whipping Japan's Ikeda Shintaro and Shuichi Sakamoto 21-12, 21-16 to clinch a quarterfinals' berth.
It was a signal of a return to form for the young pair who have been lagging behind this year after taking the badminton world by storm in pocketing nine major internationals in 2006 and 2007, including the Doha Asian Games and last year's All-England title.
"We have regained our combination. Initially, we were rather afraid but this win has boosted our confidence," said Boon Heong.
They were expected to have a tough fight as they had lost their last two encounters against the Japanese, but from the start, the Malaysians went on a rampage, attacking and defending with such swiftness to wrap up the first game in just 13 minutes.
In the second game, Shintaro and Sakamoto tried to slow down the pace and saved match point five times but the Malaysians could not be thrown off track and Boon Heong finished it off with a smash.
The quarterfinals will be an acid test for the Malaysians to prove that they have finally regained their act together and if they pass, they cannot ask for a more timely comeback than in their Olympics debut.
They will be meeting world champions Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan, the favourites, who were given a stiff run by China's Guo Zhendong and Xie Zhongbo before edging them 22-20, 10-21, 21-17 Tuesday night.
"We will be the underdogs going up against the Indonesians but the win tonight has boosted our confidence," said Boon Heong although they have never been defeated by Marko and Hendra before.