ALL ENGLAND 2013 R16 – Struggling Malaysians out early

The struggling Malaysian first men’s doubles pair and tournament second seeds, Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong, went out early on day 2 of the main draw, losing to the new Thai pair Jongjit and Puangpuapech.

By Michael Burke, Badzine Correspondent, live from Birmingham.  Photos: Yohan Nonotte for Badmintonphoto (live).

The Malaysian pair of Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong (pictured right), as perennial underperformers, have been given a deadline by the Badminton Association of Malaysia to prove themselves or face a shuffling of partners. Targeting in particular the final of this years World Championships in Guangzhou, they had also aimed to win this years Yonex championships, a target that in hindsight appeared long out of their reach.

Having been pushed hard the previous day, in an exciting match with a strong home performance from Adcock / Ellis, the Malaysians had looked far from their best. There was little difference today as they again started slowly against Thai pair Maneepong Jongjit and Nipitphon Puangpuapech (pictured below).

The match was a fast game with lots of smashing, with Koo / Tan seeming happy to defend despite many players having commented that the drift in the hall makes defending particularly tricky, they were in for a difficult time. As a result, the Thai players held the upper hand at the mid game interval, and by virtue of persistent accurate smashing, they continued their dominance to take the first game 21-17.

A stronger performance in the second game saw the Malaysians take a 15-9 lead, but again they all to easily conceded the attack and as before, their defence was not up to scratch. Between them, Jongjit / Nipitphon hit 14 smash winners to the Malaysian’s 5 in the second game alone. Koo / Tan did not look happy on court, and somewhat jaded having lost all momentum at 17-all, they lost the third game 21-18 in the first of the day’s upsets.

Speaking to the media after Koo, who looked quite pale, spoke to say: “I have never played them, they are a new pair, they really stretched us. I never thought we would lose to them but anyway they played well. I gave my best but I was not too well, I had a fever but the opponents were better today.”

His partner Tan, perhaps knowing that this defeat will have serious implications for the pair’s future, said: “We were never able to bring out or best game in today’s match at all, I don’t know what happened. It’s just that our combination [with Koo] was not working at all today. We are really suffering from lack of confidence at the moment.”

It was not all bad results for Malaysia however, as men’s doubles pair Hoon Thien How / Tan Wee Kiong played well to oust Johannes Schoettler / Ingo Kindervater of Germany, who yesterday put out Ko Sung Hyun / Lee Yong Dae unceremoniously in the first round.

The Malaysians pair was solid in defence throughout, dominating the game with flat drives and tricky drops around the net in a match notable for it’s lack of smash winners. Hoon / Tan came through in just 30 minutes, 21-15 21-15.

Speaking after the match, Schoettler commented on his loss: “We did not find our way into the game. They played really well and moved us very well. We had some problems with the movement but yeah they played quite well. Bit disappointed really.”

The full results for the day can be found here.

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