National No.2 men's doubles pair Tan Wee Kiong-Hoon Thien How (right) beat No.3 pair Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah in the final of the recent National Grand Prix Finals in Putrajaya. - Filepic
KUALA LUMPUR: National doubles coach Pang Cheh Chang is optimistic the healthy rivalry between Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong and Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem will revive Malaysia’s fortunes this season.
Malaysia have been starved off major Open titles from the men’s doubles department over the last three years.
Thien How-Wee Kiong defeated Khim Wah-V Shem in a closely-fought final in the National Grand Prix Finals at Putrajaya last month, sparking a promise that the country’s second and third-ranked pairs are set to snap at each other’s heels this year.
The two pairs will get to show who are better when they begin their campaigns in the season-opener Korean Open in Seoul on Wednesday.
World No. 8 Thien How-Wee Kiong have been drawn in the lower half of the draw with second seeds Kim Sa-rang-Kim Ki-jung of South Korea while world No. 16 Khim Wah-V Shem are in the top half with top seeds Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen of Denmark.
Cheh Chang is happy that there are more pairs stepping up to the plate. In the past, Malaysia depended heavily on world No. 7 Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong.
“It is good to see some progress in the men’s doubles department. Thien How-Wee Kiong are more consistent with their performances while Khim Wah-V Shem are making a comeback.
“They have their own strengths and weaknesses, but I am glad to see renewed commitment from all of them. Their rise will also motivate our top pair (Kien Keat-Boon Heong) and put us in a good position ahead of the Thomas Cup Finals (in May in New Delhi).
“It has been a while since our doubles players won any major titles but I am confident that we can see some breakthroughs this time,” said Cheh Chang.
Malaysia have yet to win any Super Series titles since Kien Keat-Boon Heong emerged champions at the 2010 Malaysian Open. Malaysia only managed to taste success in the Grand Prix Gold events through Kien Keat-Boon Heong (2011 and 2012 Malaysian Open GP Gold), Khim Wah-V Shem (2013 Malaysian Open GP Gold) and Thien How-Wee Kiong (2013 Macau Open GP Gold).