Bangkok: The 2017 Asian Junior champion Leong Jun Hao blasted No. 8 seed Zulfadli Zulkiffli out of the Thailand Masters first round. The 19-year-old’s aggressive strategy paid dividends as he triumphed 24-22, 21-19 in 58 minutes.
Leong, who also won the 2017 World Junior Championships runner-up, was excited after his victory.
“I had to play through the qualifying before reaching the first round of main draw. This was a confidence booster for me,” said Leong.
“I played calmly and patiently, I only attacked when there’s a good opportunity,” added Leong who is set to meet Firman Abdul Kholik of Indonesia next.
“I defeated Firman at the Malaysia International Challenge last November. But I am not going to underestimate him.”
Malaysia’s another independent men’s singles player Daren Liew had a better luck than Zulkiffli, escaping a three-set thriller on Wednesday by beating No. 3 seed Khosit Phetpradab of Thailand 21-18, 18-21, 23-21 in 75 minutes. He will take on Wei Nan of Hong Kong on Thursday.
In women’s singles, Malaysia’s Soniia Cheah managed to advance to the second round by defeating Mattana Hemrachatanun of Thailand 21-12, 21-14. She will play another Thai player Thamolwan Poopradubsil in the second round.
Unseeded Ho Yen Mei of Malaysia also progressed as she outlasted Indonesia’s Jesica Muljati, 21-14, 17-21, 21-11 to set up a second round battle with No. 3 seed women’s singles player, Pornpawee Chochuwong of Thailand.