Vladimir Ivanov-Ivan Sozonov

They looked very intimidating in height and size but it was the Malaysians who ruled the court as they whitewashed Russia 5-0 in their opening Group D tie in the Thomas Cup Finals at Impact Arena, Bangkok on Monday.
Malaysia’s former world No 1 Lee Chong Wei started the ball rolling as he teased and tormented Vladimir Malkov (main pix) 21-9, 21-6 in 28 minutes in the first singles. 
His walk in the park was certainly a motivating factor for Malaysia’s number one doubles pair Goh V Sem-Tan Wee Kiong in the first doubles against Vladimir Ivanov-Ivan Sozonov.
The Malaysian Rio Olympics silver medallists, however, had to bring out their best to win the match in straight games 21-18, 21-19 against the former All-England champions who are ranked No 10 in the world.
Lee Zii Jia clinched Malaysia’s third point but had to stave off stiff resistance from Sergy Sirant in the second singles.
In the second doubles, Malaysia fielded Aaron Chia-Teo Ee Yi. The scratch pair overcame some stiff resistance from Evgenij Dremin-Denis Grachev in the first game to prevail 21-16, 21-9 in 25 minutes.
Ee Yi’s regular partner is Ong Yew Sin who did not get the nod for the trip to Bangkok. Instead, the coaches believe the scratch pairs they have in mind are in better shape and frame of mind to carry the challenge.
Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin gave away some soft points in the second game but did enough for a 21-9, 21-12 win over Rodion Alimov in the third singles for the whitewash.
“This win against the Russians is very important for us…confidence-wise and performance wise,” said Chong Wei after the win, adding that it is quite windy inside.
Malaysia faces Algeria on Tuesday before group cruncher against defending champions Denmark. The Danes showed their might with an easy 5-0 win over debutants Algeria.
The last time Malaysia won the Thomas Cup was in Kuala Lumpur in 1992 and the semi-finals are their initial target but hope to end their 26-year wait for the silverware. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH
Malaysia  5     Russia   0
(Malaysia first)
MS1: Lee Chong Wei beat Vladimir Malkov 21-9, 21-6
MD1: Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong beat Vladimir Ivanov-Ivan Sozonov 21-18, 21-19
MS2: Lee Zii Jia beat Sergey Sirant 21-13, 21-16
MD2: Aaron Chia-Teo Ee Yi beat Evgenij Dremin-Denis Grachev 21-16, 21-9
MS3: Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin beat Rodion Alimov 21-9, 21-12
Denmark   5    Algeria   0
(Denmark first)
MS1: Viktor Axelsen beat Youcef Sabri Medel 21-4, 21-8
MS2: Anders Antonsen beat Mohamed Abderrahime Belarbi 21-15, 21-9
MS3: Jan O Jorgensen beat Adel Hamek 21-7, 21-0
MD2: Mathias Boe-Mathias Christiansen beat Koceita Mammeri-Youcef Sabri 21-6, 21-11
MD1: Mads Conrad-Petersen-Mads Pieler Kolding beat Abderrahime-Adel Hamek 21-3, 21-5
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