Stunners from Malaysian shuttlers at Axiata Arena

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The singles were a disappointment but there were some stunning performances from Malaysia in the men’s and mixed doubles department on the first day of the USD700,000 Celcom Malaysia Open in the HSBC BWF World Tour Super 750 event at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil on Tuesday.

Liew Daren in the men’s singles and Soniia Cheah in the women’s singles went out in the first round – suffering straight games defeat in their respective events.

Soniia went down to Japan’s fourth seeds Akane Yamaguchi 16-21, 17-21 while Daren, still disturbed by a left foot injury he sustained in January, was beaten by Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen 21-10, 21-15.

Putting that aside professionals Chooi Kah Ming-Low Juan Shen, playing in the main draw after India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty pulled out at the eleventh hour, were the toast of the day.

Ranked 43, Kah Ming-Juan Shen needed only 33 minutes as they demolished China’s 11th ranked He Jiting-Tan Qiang 21-18, 24-22 to earn a second-round match against newly crowned All-England champions Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan. The Indonesians won 21-16, 21-19 against Thailand’s Bodin Isara-Maneepong Jongjit.

“We got the rhythm going against the Chinese and grew in confidence as the match progressed,” said Kah Ming after the stunning win.

It was also a bright start for Rio Olympics silver medallists Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong who made up for their first-round defeat in last week’s India Open by knocking out Thailand’s Tinn Isriyanet-Kittisak Namdash 21-14, 21-18.

The Malaysians, however, will need to up their ante if they want to make the quarter-finals. They face No 3 seeds Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda in the second round. The Japanese beat China’s Huang Kaixiang-Wang Zekang 21-17, 21-18.

The best win for Malaysian came from the mixed doubles pair of Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing. They served a stunner against World No 3 and last year’s All England champions Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino.

The 21-16, 21-15 win over the Japanese who finished runners-up in this year’s All England, has opened the path for a place in the last eight. Kian Meng-Pei Jing ranked 38 in the world, will face India’s Pranaav Jerry Chopra-N. Sikki Reddy.

Fifth seeds Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying also cleared their first hurdle in style with a 21-13, 21-19 win over Japan’s Kohei Gondo-Ayane Kurihara in 33 minutes.

They next face an Indonesian hurdle in Ricky Karandasuwardi-Pia Zebadiah Bernadet.

Meanwhile, top seed and a hot favorite for the men’s singles crown this year in the absence of 12-time champion Datuk Wira Lee Chong Wei was a given a jolt before he recovered to beat Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen 20-22, 21-13, 21-11.

Fourth seed Chen Long of China knocked out another Dane with a 21-13, 21-9 win over Hans Kristian Vittinghus.

In the women’s singles world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei was an easy 21-14, 21-13 winner against Hong Kong China’s Deng Joy Xuan in the first round. RIZAL ABDULLAH 

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