IT was a disappointing opening day as Malaysia’s top pairs, Man Wei Chong-Tee Kai Wun and Pearly Tan-Thinaah Muralitharan suffered an early exit in the PETRONAS Malaysia Open 2024 at Axiata Arena today.
With both pairs out of the picture, hopes are now high on the country’s other elite shuttlers namely Ng Tze Yong, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani to salvage Malaysia’s pride in the Super 1000 season opener which offers a prize purse of USD1.3 million.
After a promising start in the first game, Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia faltered yet again in the early round of the Open, losing to China’s Lu Guang Zu in a three-game 16-21, 21-19, 21-15 encounter.
Drawn against world no.1 and top seed pair Liang Wei Keng-Wang Chang, Man-Tee were simply outmatched as the Chinese pair took full control of the court with their attacking play, eventually defeating the Malaysian pair 21-12, 21-19 defeat in 30 minutes.
“We cannot be overly depressed over today’s results as this is our first tournament of the year…we’ll reset, work hard, sit with our coaches and continue to work hard and improve,’ said Man.
Pearly Tan-Thinaah, who had a 2-0 advantage over Chinese pair Liu Sheng Shu-Tan Ning in their previous meetings, were clearly not in their best shape and succumbed to the continuous pressure by the Chinese pair throughout the match. The Malaysian pair lost 20-22, 15-21 in 58 minutes.
“Yes, it’s not the results that we wanted but we need to move on, work harder and just focus on our next tournament,” said Thinaah.
Pearly said: “The Chinese pair were better today…playing aggressively and constantly pressuring us with their attacking style of play. We need to move on and learn from today’s mistakes,” said Pearly.
Independent mixed pair Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing were the first to be shown the door following their loss at the hands of 7th seed Kim Won Ho-Jeong Na Eun 11-21, 16-21 in 38 mins.
Mixed pair Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai and Ong Ewe Sin-Teo Ee Yee however brought cheers to the home fans after winning their respective opening matches to progress to the second round.
Meanwhile, sixth seed Jonatan Christie was sent packing by India’s Kidambi Srikanth, who defeated the Indonesia star in three games of 12-21, 21-18, 21-16 which lasted 65 minutes.
Two-time defending champion Axelsen had no trouble against Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew, registering a convincing 21-13, 21-15 win over the former world champion in just 43 minutes. The Dane now meets Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yew in Thursday’s second round.
In the women’s singles encounters, defending champion Akane Yamaguchi and last year’s losing finalist An Se Young were through to the next round after easily winning over their first-round rivals.
Tomorrow, the attention will be on Ng Tze Yong who opens his campaign against Koki Watanabe of Japan while Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik face Rasmus Kjaer-Frederik Sogaard of Denmark.
Malaysia’s top mixed pair and eight seed Chen Tang Jie-Toh Ee Wei take on Tom Gicquel-Delphine Delrue of France while Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin square off against Thailand’s Supak Jomkoh-Kittinupong Kedren in the first round.
It will be a tall order for women’s pair Anna Cheong-Teoh Mei Xing who play against Korea's Baek Ha Na-Lee So Hee while Goh Pei Kee-Low Yeen Yuan are up against China’s Zhang Shi Xian-Zheng Yu.