Soniia Cheah dished out a pleasant surprise in the USD700,000 Fuzhou China Open on Wednesday when stormed into the second round in the women’s singles with an upset 21-19, 21-16 win over Japan’s second seed Akane Yamaguchi.
The lanky Malaysian made heads turn at the Haixia Olympic Sports Center in Fuzhou during the 37 minutes she was on the court and will battle Canada’s Hong Kong-born Michelle Li for a place in the quarter-finals.
For Soniia the win drew her level with the Japanese ace with one win each. Yamaguchi had beaten the Malaysian 21-16, 21-17 in a round of 32 matches in the Malaysia Open in February. For Yamaguchi, her slide goes on this year as it was the fourth time she has suffered first-round exits.
As the only Malaysian in the women’s singles in Fuzhou, Soniia hopes to ride on her newfound confidence to face Michelle. The Canadian holds an impressive 4-0 lead in her previous four encounters.
Malaysia also celebrated wins in the first round in the men’s doubles and women’s double plus the mixed doubles.
Number six seeds Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying stopped Thom Gizquet-Delphine Delrue of France 21-19, 21-19 in 52 minutes. The Malaysians next face Dutch pair Robin Tabeling-Selena Piek who beat Thailand’s Nipitphone Phuangphuapet-Savitree Amitrapai 21-17, 21-11.
Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie also made a winning start in Fuzhou with an upset 21-18, 21-19 over number eight seeds Marcus Ellis-Lauren Smith of England. They will battle Indonesians Rinov Rivaldy-Pitha Haningtyas Mentari in the second round.
In the women’s doubles, Chow Mei Kuan-Lim Meng Yean was also in fiery form when they packed off Indonesia’s sixth seeds Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu in straight games, winning 21-19, 21-16.
Mei Kuan-Meng Yean pair faces a Russian hurdle in Ekaterina Bootova-Alina Davletova in the second round. The Russians came through a three-game battle against England’s Chloe Birch-Lauren Smith to prevail 16-21, 21-17, 21-13.
In the men’s doubles, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik edged Indian veterans Attri Manu-Reddy B. Sumeth 23-21, 21-19 in a 38-minute encounter. For a place in the last eight, they are up against fifth seeds Fajar Alfian -Muhammad Rian Ardianto. RIZAL ABDULLAH