HA NOI — Despite an all-out effort, Beijing Olympian Nguyen Tien Minh lost to world No 1 seed, Lee Chong Wei, in the second round of the Proton Malaysia Open Badminton Super Series in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Minh, the world No 17 seed, lost 9-21, 21-18, 7-21 to Lee who has reigned champion for the last four years and is ranked No 1 in the tournament.
On Wednesday, Minh, the national top player, had no difficulty in beating South Korea’s Hong Ji-hoon in the first round with a score of 21-9, 21-16.
Earlier, Malaysia’s back-up men’s singles elite shuttler Liew Daren achieved a career high on a day when an Indonesian rising star gave favourite Lee a run for his money in first-round matches at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
The 22-year-old Daren, who is not even ranked among the top 100 in the world, dumped Thai No 1 Boonsak Ponsana with a hard-fought 24-22, 19-21, 21-17 win in 69 minutes. He will take on Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Hsuan-yi for a place in the quarter-finals.
Daren could have scored a straight-game win over Boonsak, who is ranked 13th in the world, after taking a comfortable lead at 19-14 in the second game. But he lacked the experience to seal it. He came back more fired up in the rubber game and hung on to win the match. It is only the second appearance for Daren in the Super Series. He also featured in the Malaysian Open last year but failed to make the main draw.
“If the Chinese players hadn’t withdrawn, I wouldn’t be playing in this tournament,” said the world No 140.
“My hope was to take a game off Boonsak but I won the match. It is unbelievable. The top players often get off to a slow start in their opening match and I took the advantage of it by attacking from the start.”
Daren said the win was a milestone in his career. “I have the problem of losing after holding a lead,” he said.
World No 1 Lee had to slog for a 21-17, 21-18 win over Andre Kurniawan Tedjono but the top seed brushed aside the jittery start.
Twenty-year-old Andre was dejected over the defeat and said: “I was too eager at the closing stage of the second game. I had the lead but failed to capitalise on it. But this has been a great experience for me.”