Doubles pair Tan Wee Kiong (left)-Hoon Thien How in action during the final of the National GP Finals last week which they won, will lead Malaysia's challenge in the doubles event of the Korean Open next Wednesday. - Filepic
KUALA LUMPUR: National men’s doubles champion Tan Wee Kiong-Hoon Thien How will be fighting on two fronts when they start their campaign in the Korean Open on Wednesday.
On Saturday, the duo and compatriots Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem left for Seoul for the season opener of the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) Super Series.
The 24-year-old Wee Kiong said their opening round match would be “treacherous”.
“The weather in Seoul is below 13°C. It is really cold. On top of that, we have a tricky opening match against an upcoming pair from China (Kang Jun-Liu Cheng). We cannot take them lightly.
“We have to balance our act. We have to adapt to the cold condition and also stay on guard against the Chinese pair,” said Wee Kiong.
Wee Kiong-Thien How are the seventh seeds and have been drawn in the lower half with second seeds Kim Sa-rang-Kim Ki-jung of South Korea, Russians Ivan Sozonov-Vladimir Ivanov, China’s All-England champions Liu Xialong-Qiu Zihan and the unseeded Fu Haifeng-Hong Wei of China.
If the Malaysians clear their first round, they will meet the winners of the match between Haifeng-Hong Wei and Sozonov-Ivanov.
Much will be expected from world No. 8 Wee Kiong-Thien How as they showed plenty of promise towards the tailend of last season. The duo did well to reach their first Super Series final at the China Open in October and then won their first international title at the Macau Open in November.
They also scored an upset win over South Koreans Lee Yong-dae-Yoo Yeon-seong en route to reaching the semi-finals of the French Open in October. At the BWF World Super Series Finals, Wee Kiong-Thien How, a last-minute replacement for Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, put up a creditable showing in their Group A matches.
Despite the positive showings, Wee Kiong said they still need to work harder.
“We made several breakthroughs last year but it is important for Thien How and I to maintain our performances and stay consistent this year. We have to keep on working harder,” said Wee Kiong.
“We are also hoping to stay injury-free. Thien How had some discomfort with his hand during the National Grand Prix Finals (en route to beating Khim Wah-V Shem in the final) but he is much better now,” he added.
Besides doubles pairs Wee Kiong-Thien How and Khim Wah-V Shem, Malaysia will also be banking on world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei to keep the nation’s flag flying high in the men’s singles.