Lee Zia Jia fought for nearly 80 minutes against China’s Chen Long but the Olympic champion rode on his vast experience to down the young Malaysian 21-16, 12-21, 23-21 in the opening round in the China Open in Changzhou, China on Tuesday.
Zii Jia had beaten the Chinese ace in the Indonesian Open this year but he came up short in Changzhou despite his heroic efforts on a day when professional Liew Daren kept the Malaysian flag flying in the men’s singles.
Promoted to the main draw Daren defeated Thailand’s Sitthikom Thammasin in a come-from-behind 13-21, 21-19, 21-15 win in 63 minutes. He will face Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama who ousted Denmark’s No 6 seed Viktor Axelsen 10-21, 21-14, 21-16.
Malaysia also had a disappointing day in the doubles but Rio Olympics silver medallists Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, winners of the Chinese Taipei Open last week marched into the second round with an easy 21-6, 21-9 win over Dutch pair Jelle Maas-Robin Tavelin in only 25 minutes.
Both the Malaysian women’s doubles pairs fell at the first hurdle. Vivian Hoo-Yap Cheng Wen lost 12-21, 21-17, 14-21 to Thailand’s Puttita Supajirakul-Sapsiree Taerattanachai while Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean out in straight games – 12-21, 15-21, to China’s No 4 seeds Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan.
Another men’s doubles pair Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin were also first-round casualties – losing 21-15, 13-21, 16-21 to Japan’s No 4 seeds Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda.
In the mixed doubles, Indonesia’s rising pair Rinov Rivaldy-Pitha Haningtyas Mentari handed Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing a 21-18, 16-2, 21-12 defeat in 57minutes. RIZAL ABDULLAH