PETALING JAYA: National women’s doubles ace Vivian Hoo (pic) played with a fourth different partner but it did not stop her from getting off to a winning start at the New Zealand Open badminton tournament.
Combining with Goh Yea Ching for the first time, the pair stunned fourth seeds Misato Aratama-Akane Watanabe of Japan 21-17, 21-12 to reach the second round in Auckland yesterday.
Vivian, playing in her first tournament since winning the Commonwealth Games women’s doubles gold medal with Chow Mei Kuan in the Gold Coast last month, was delighted to clear the first hurdle despite having a tough time to make the partnership click.
Vivian won the title last year with Woon Khe Wei but the latter is still recovering from a knee injury sustained during the Asian Team Championships in Alor Setar in February.
She also has played with Tee Jing Yi and won two of their three matches during the Asian Team Championships.
“My combination with Yea Ching wasn’t the smoothest but somehow it was enough for us to win the match,” said Vivian.
“We have no target because the coaches just wanted us to test our combination ahead of the Uber Cup.”
Vivian-Yea Ching will face Japan’s Arisa Higashino-Kie Nakanishi for a place in quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, world No. 18 Mei Kuan and Lee Meng Yean are still struggling to find their footing since resuming their partnership at the Asian Badminton Championships last week. They fell to their second first round exit, going down 15-21, 25-23, 16-21 to South Korea’s Chae Yu-jung-Kim Hye-jeong.
In men’s singles, former international Liew Daren was left to carry the nation’s challenge alone after Dutch International champion Cheam June Wei and Chong Wei Feng bit the dust.
Daren beat China Masters semi-finalist Sun Feixiang of China 21-18, 14-21, 21-18 to set up a second round clash against India’s B. Sai Praneeth.
“If I can pull through tomorrow’s match, then I can go far,” said Daren.
Daren’s path to the semi-finals is clear if he beats as Praneeth as his opponent in the last-eight will be unknown homester Abhinav Manota or Sri Lanka’s Nilua Karunaratne.
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