Veteran Liew Daren proved yesterday just why he fits the bill for the second singles role in the Thomas Cup Finals in Bangkok next month.
In Manila, the 35-year-old defeated world No 30 Heo Kwang Hee of South Korea 8-21, 21-10, 21-15 to reach the second round of the Badminton Asia Championship (BAC).
The win speaks volumes of Daren’s ability as Kwang Hee is the Korean No 1, and he will be leading his country’s charge for the Thomas Cup on May 8-15.
Daren, who will relish another chance to justify his selection, will take on Indonesian Thomas Cup hero Jonatan Christie for a place in the last eight today.
Daren has been included as of the five men’s singles for the mission in Bangkok, marking his return to the Thomas Cup squad since his meltdown that led to Malaysia’s 3-2 defeat to Japan in the 2014 final in New Delhi.
On his win over Kwang Hee, Daren said: “Honestly, I didn’t think too much about it (the Thomas Cup selection). I don’t need more motivation to do well this week simply because the BAC is now a Super 1000 event.”
“It’s extremely important if I were to climb a rung or two in the world ranking, so I want to do my best, whether or not if the Thomas Cup is coming up next.”
Lee Zii Jia also advanced to the seocnd round after 19-21, 21-14, 21-14 win over China’s Sun Fei Xiang. The world No 7 will face Sheshar Hiren next.
Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin failed to make a winning debut but put up a spirited display before losing 21-14 9-21 21-18 to world No 15 Wang Tzu Wei of Taiwan.
The men’s singles competition in the BAC has witnessed some shocks with the elimination of top seed Kento Momota and fifth seed Lakhsya Sen.
Momota went down 17-21, 21-17, 21-7 to Sea Games-bound Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo while China’s Li Shifeng scalped Lakshya 12-21, 21-10, 21-19.
In the women’s singles, S. Kisona set up a last 16 meeting with fifth seed He Bingjiao after clearing her first hurdle with a 21-10, 22-20 win over Hong Kong’s Yeung Sum Yee. However, the inexperienced Tan Zhing Yi fell to Taiwan’s Hsu Wen Chi 21-7, 21-10 in just 21 minutes.
RESULTS (Malaysians only)
1st rd, Men’s singles: Liew Daren bt Heo Kwang Hee (Kor) 8-21, 21-10, 21-15; Lee Zii Jia bt Sun Fei Xiang (Chn); Wang Tzu Wei (Tpe) bt Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin 21-14, 9-21, 21-18;
Women’s singles: S. Kisona bt Yeung Sum Yee (Hkg) 21-10, 22-20; Hsu Wen Chi (Tpe) bt Tan Zhing Yi (Mas) 21-7, 21-10.
Doubles: Anna Cheong-Teoh Mei Xing bt Ashwini Bhat-Shikha Gautam (Ind) 21-19, 21-12; Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah bt Simran Singhi-Ritika Thaker (Ind) 21-15, 21-11; Jongkolphan Kititharakul-Rawinda Prajongjai (Tha) bt Vivian Hoo-Lim Chiew Sien 21-10, 21-13; Rin Iwanaga-Kie Nakanishi (Jpn) bt Low Yeen Yuan-Valeree Siow 21-19, 21-13.