PETALING JAYA: Top national women’s singles shuttler Soniia Cheah (pic) was on fire at the Korea Masters in Gwangju City.
The 24-year-old upstaged sixth seed and world No. 25 Fitriani Fitriani of Indonesia 21-18, 16-21, 21-16 in a 58-minute first-round battle at the Yeomju Gymnasium.
It was her second win over the 18-year-old Fitriani in three meetings, having also defeated the Indonesian en route to finishing as runner-up at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August.
World No. 27 Soniia will take on Wang Zhiyi of China in the second round.
The 17-year-old Zhiyi needed just 30 minutes to oust Malaysia’s S. Kisona 21-16, 21-19 in another first-round match yesterday.
Said Soniia: “I’m delighted with my win today. I made some mistakes in the second game but I’m glad I found my rhythm in the decider.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to ride on the momentum and perform even better tomorrow (today). I’ve not played against Zhiyi before, but I’ll be ready.”
Soniia is the only woman shuttler left to carry Malaysia’s challenge following the defeat of Ho Yen Mei, who went down fighting 18-21, 19-21 to Lee Chia-hsin of Taiwan.
There was good news in men’s singles when Chong Wei Feng and Soong Joo Ven continued their fine form to reach the third round.
Wei Feng hardly raised a sweat in his 21-14, 21-15 win over China’s Zhou Zeqi while Joo Ven also had an easy day, downing South Korea’s Ko Kyung-bo 21-9, 21-13.
Wei Feng will meet Khosit Phetpradab of Thailand while Joo Ven will have to deal with Taiwan’s Lee Chia-hao today to book their tickets to the quarter-finals.
In men’s doubles, Goh V Shem-Teo Ee Yi came through the skin of their teeth for a hard-fought 22-20, 17-21, 22-20 win in 46 minutes over Lee Sheng-mu-Lin Chin-yu of Taiwan in the first round.
They face a daunting task today as they will be up against fifth seeds Bodin Isara-Nipitphon Phuangphuapet of Thailand.
Said V Shem: “It feels good to clear the first round but we’re bracing ourselves for a tough fight tomorrow (today). The tournament has attracted top pairs, including Lee Yong-dae-Yoo Yeon-seong (of South Korea). It’s quite competitive.”
Yong-dae-Yeon-seong are playing in their first tournament in 14 months but showed that they have not lost their touch by beating Ren Xiangyu-Tan Qiang of China 21-12, 20-22, 21-18 to set up a meeting against compatriots Kang Ji-wook-Lee Sang-joon.
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