* Zulfadli battles in vain against Vittinghus
Former World No 1 Datuk Lee Chong Wei, whose world rankings have plunged to 79, got off to a flying start in his first Open tournament after his serving an eight month suspension for doping, got off to a winning start in the US Open.
Chong Wei, whose first competitive tournaments for Malaysia were the Sudirman Cup in Dongguan, China and the South East Asian Games, better known as SEA Games, needed only 37 minutes in his 21-14, 21-13 win over Japan’s 13th seeded Kazuma Sakai.
In the second round Chong Wei, Malaysia’s best known badminton player in the sport’s history will face Denmark’s Rasmus Fladberg. The Dane defeated Austria’s Matthias Almer 21-5, 21-16 in his first round match.
However, it was the end of the road for Malaysia’s independent player Zulfadli Zulkfli.
Zulfadli, however, gave Denmark’s Hans Kristian Vittinghus a run for his money but could stop the lanky Dane from prevailing with a 19-21, 21-14, 25-23 after a 62 minute battle.
The 22-year-old Zulfadli, together with Chong Wei will carry Malaysia’s challenge in this year’s World Championships in Jakarta from Aug 10-16.
Chong Wei has embarked on a long journey to garner points and move up the world rankings to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics after he slid down the rankings due to his eight-month layoff from competitive badminton due the doping scandal.
Results (Malaysians only)
Lee Chong Wei beat Kazuma Sakai (Jpn) 21-14, 21-13
Hans Kristian Vittinghus (Den) beat Zulfadli Zulkifli 19-21, 21-14, 25-23