NATIONAL top men’s doubles pair Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong redeemed their battered pride by beating Thailand’s in the opening round at the Istora Gelora Bung Karno.
The world No. 11 took only 31 minutes to beat the Thais 21-15, 21-16 to get their quest for individual glory off to a blistering start.
In February this year, the Rio Olympic silver medallists fell to a shock defeat to Kittinupong-Dechapol at the Asia Team Championships in Kedah, which eventually saw Malaysia crashing to a 2-3 defeat to Thailand in a Group C tie.
They are expected to bulldoze past their next opponents Bikash Shreshtha-Nabin Shreshtha of Nepal to set up a make-or-break last-eight clash against world No. 1 Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo of Indonesia.
The top seeds Marcus-Kevin, nicknamed Minions, received a first-round bye. They face Japan’s Takuto Inoue-Yuki Knaeko in today’s second round.
In the mixed doubles, Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying lived dangerously before they came through their first-round match against India’s Pranaav Jerry Chopra-Reddy N. Sikki with a hard-fought 21-15, 23-21 win in 50 minutes.
They take on Reginald Lee Chun Hei-Chau Hoi Wah of Hong Kong next, whom they have beaten in three out of their four meetings but they can’t take their opponents lightly.
Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean made it a good day for Malaysia when they defeated Chen Hsiao-huan-Hu Ling-fang of Taiwan 21-13, 21-14 to set up a meeting with India’s Ashwini Ponnappa-Reddy N. Sikki for a place in the quarter-finals.
In the women’s singles, India’s ace P.V. Sindhu huffed and puffed for one hour before pulling off a 21-10, 12-21, 23-21 first-round win over unheralded Vu Thi Trang of Vietnam yesterday.
Despite the jittery start, Sindhu is still focused on winning her first major title at the Asian Games.
She has had enough of playing the bridesmaid role in the last few majors.
Sindhu was pipped to the world title by Spaniard Carolina Marin at the World Championships in Nanjing, China, earlier this month. She also finished second at the 2016 Rio Olympics and last year’s World Cham pionships in Glasgow.
“The Asian Games is one of the biggest tournaments as it’s held once every four years and it’s important to me,” said Sindhu, who will play Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung next.
Sindhu remained modest despite being named by Forbes as the seventh best-paid female athlete in the world with a total fortune of US$8.5mil (RM34.92mil) from tournament earnings and endorsements. Her sponsors include Bridgestone tyres, sports drink Gatorade, mobile phone maker Nokia, and electronic giants Panasonic.
She can expect more money to come her way if she wins and becomes the first-ever Indian to win a badminton gold at the Asian Games.