PETALING JAYA: Lee Chong Wei’s bid for a record seventh Indonesian Open title was almost derailed in the first round.
The world No. 3 struggled to adapt to the conditions at the Jakarta Convention Centre and was stretched to the limit by homester Tommy Sugiarto before prevailing 13-21, 21-10, 21-18 yesterday.
Chong Wei, who is the only non-Indonesian to have won the Indonesian title more than once, was blown away by world No. 30 Tommy in the first game.
Although the three-time Olympic silver medallist came back strongly to take the second game 21-10, he then found himself staring at defeat when he trailed 14-17 in the rubber.
Just when he needed it, the 34-year-old found the extra spring in his step as he conceded just one more point before going on to seal victory after 62 minutes.
Chong Wei will meet India’s world No. 29 H.S. Prannoy next for a place in the quarter-finals.
Prannoy defeated Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting 21-13, 21-18 in the first round.
National singles coach Hendrawan tried to explain the difficulty Chong Wei faced in the game against Tommy.
“Chong wei was feeling a little uncertain in the first game. Maybe the wind direction in the stadium affected him,” he said.
“The convention centre is a circle, so it’s tricky to control the shuttlecock. If it had been the Istora Senayan, he would have adapted faster.
“Tommy also deserves credit for playing really well. He didn’t make too many mistakes.
“But I do feel Chong Wei will improve in his next match. Prannoy will be tough but Chong Wei is focused.”
There was no joy for doubles pairs – Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (men) and Lim Yin Loo-Yap Cheng Wen (women).
World No. 23 Yew Sin-Ee Yi lost 17-21, 12-21 to China’s world No. 15 Liu Cheng-Zhang Nan while Yin Loo-Cheng Wen took eighth seeds Shiho Tanaka-Koharu Yonemoto of Japan to three games before going down fighting 18-21, 21-14, 12-21.