KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia are left with Lee Chong Wei and former national doubles pair Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah to keep the fire going in cold Seoul after the second round matches of the Korean Open yesterday.
After a jittery start on the opening day, top seed Chong Wei gave a better account of himself , taking only 20 minutes to beat Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsul 21-14, 21-9 yesterday to set up a quarter-final match against Park Sung-hwan.
The Korean will be out to avenge his defeat by the world number one in the Malaysia Open final last Sunday.
National chief coach Rashid Sidek said that he was glad to see Chong Wei warming up to the task in Seoul.
“He is getting better and showed the vast difference in standard between him and the young Thai today. But the toughest job is to beat a Korean on his home ground,” he said in a telephone interview.
“Sung-hwan will have the extra motivation to please his fans and he may get some form of help from the line judges. From past experience in South Korea, line calls favouring home players can be a problem and Chong Wei has to be psychologically ready for the challenges tomorrow.”
Two national back-up shuttlers were shown the exit by Indonesian opponents yesterday. Chong Wei Feng was beaten 13-21, 15-21 by Simon Santoso while Mohd Arif Abdul Latif Arif crashed to a 12-21, 16-21 defeat by Andre Kurniawan Tedjono.
“Wei Feng gave a better fight but he still lags behind Simon in standard,” said Rashid.
“But I think Arif gave up even before the match started. He had too much respect for Andre and did not play true to his form. If not for the lack of confidence, Arif could have given the Indonesian a run for his money.”
Julia Wong’s challenge also ended in the second round, going down 14-21, 21-15, 5-21 to Hong Kong champion Wang Chen.
“Julia is still inconsistent. Although the target was to take a game off her opponent, I did not expect her to lose so easily in the rubber. She made it easy for Wang Chen by sending the shuttle within easy reach,” said Rashid.
In the doubles, Tan Fook-Wan Wah subdued Indonesian pair of Alven Yulianto-Hendra Gunawan, winning 11-21, 21-16, 21-19. The Indonesian pair had found early success by reaching the final of the Malaysian Open last week.
In the quarter-finals, Tan Fook-Wan Wah will face Taiwan’s Fang Chieh-min-Lee Sheng-mi, who knocked out top seeds Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia 21-10, 11-21, 21-18.