MALAYSIA MASTERS 2016 – Locals and youngsters mix it up early

The first major tournament of 2016, the Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold, kicked off on Tuesday with a rocky first round,where the biggest surprise came with Chinese teens Zheng/Li beating […]

The first major tournament of 2016, the Malaysia Masters Gold, kicked off on Tuesday with a rocky first round,where the biggest surprise came with Chinese teens Zheng/Li beating former world champions Ahmad/Natsir.

Interviews: Celina Moy.  Photos: Chee Ying Fan (live in Penang)

The Malaysia Masters mixed field ended up without its top 3 seeds going into the second round.  2nd-seeded Koreans Ko/Kim had withdrawn in the days before the event began but then Indonesia saw its #1 and #3-seeded pairs go down at the first hurdle.  2013 World Champions Tontowi Ahmad / Liliyana Natsir lost in three games to a brand new pairing of World Junior Championship triple-crown winner and the BWF Most Promising Player of 2015 Zheng Siwei and Thailand Open winner Li Yinhui (pictured above).  The two 18-year-olds got the best possible start to their senior career.

“In the 1st game, our opponents had better placement,” said Zheng after the match.  “In order to counter-attack them, we used our speed to pressure them. We hope to win more rounds in this tournament.”

The Indonesians were not the only former world #1s to taste defeat on Day 1.  Hong Kong’s Chau Hoi Wah / Lee Chun Hei beat Sudket Prapakamol / Saralee Thoungthongkam (pictured above) in straight games, 21-17, 21-13.

“We are happy with our game today,” said Chau after the match.  “We didn’t set any goals in this tournament.  We just want to play our best. Sudket/Saralee are a very experienced pair.

“Our next opponents, Kim and Shin, are a strong pair. We want to gain more experience and more practice with this tournament. Our country hopes that we will qualify for Rio Olympics, which is our mission this year.”

Lee Chun Hei added, “We lost to Sudket and Saralee in our previous meeting. We are happy to be able to win this time.”

Home shuttlers also had a good opening round in mixed doubles, with 3 of 4 pairs advancing.  The biggest win was by Tan Kian Meng / Lai Pei Jing (pictured above).  They came through qualifying rounds to beat 3rd seeds and SEA Games gold medallists Praveen Jordan / Debby Susanto.

Kian Meng played a total of 5 matches on Tuesday as he also played in the men’s doubles and made it to the main draw while Pei Jing played total of 3 matches.

“This time, we didn’t think too much about winning or creating upset,” said Lai afterward.  “When we were on court, we just focused on every point. That is why when we were on court, we didn’t feel so tired but after the match, we felt tired.

“We had already played before in this stadium in the qualifying rounds while our opponents had not played yet and they found it hard to adjust to the drift. We took advantage of that.”

When asked about change of partner, Lai hope that her partnership with Tan will stay long and produce good results.

8th-seeded Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (pictured below) won, as expected, over Japan’s Ryota Taohata / Koharu Yonemoto.

“Our fans’ support helped us and made us more confident, especially when we won points,” said Goh Liu Ying after the victory.  “It’s surprising that so many fans showed up to support us today.”

Click here for complete Tuesday results

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @