Litmus test for V Shem-Wee Kiong

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s top men’s doubles pair Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong have armed themselves with a much-needed confidence ahead of a crunch last-16 encounter against last year’s world champions Liu Cheng-Zhang Nan at the Fuzhou China Open.

The world No. 13 made a winning return in their first outing in seven weeks by beating Indonesia’s Berry Angriawan-Hardianto Hardianto 22-20, 21-18 in the first round at the Haixia Olympic Sports Center yesterday.

V Shem-Wee Kiong next face a tricky test against Liu Cheng-Zhang Nan tomorrow – a match they could not afford to lose if they harbour hopes of making the cut for the World Tour Finals in Guangzhou from Dec 12-16.

V Shem’s ankle injury had forced the pair to miss out on the European swing last month, leaving them with a mountain to climb in their chase for the top eight in the Race to Guangzhou standings.

They are now ranked 14th with 45,750 points, trailing eight-placed Takeshi-Kamura-Keigo Sonoda of Japan by about 10,000 points.

But they could reduce the deficit by reaching the semi-finals this week.

V Shem was relieved to have cleared the first round, describing the win as “very important” in boosting their morale.

The pair last competed at the Victor China Open in September where they lost in the second round.

“I thought we performed well today, considering we’re playing in our first tournament after a long absence, no thanks to my ankle injury,” said V Shem.

“But we need to improve and play much better than today in the second round.

“We can’t afford to lose early again as we are chasing for points to qualify for the World Tour Finals.”

V Shem-Wee Kiong have beaten Liu Cheng-Zhang Nan twice this year.

Meanwhile, it was the end of the road for Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie in the mixed doubles.

The world No.10 Soon Huat-Shevon went down 17-21, 19-21 to world No. 3 Liliyana Natsir-Tontowi Ahmad – a victory that the Indonesian ace will savour after losing to the Malaysians in the Singapore Open final in July.

Two more pairs – Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying and Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing, will be in action in the opening round today.

In the men’s singles, Malaysia’s representatives are independent shuttlers Liew Daren and Chong Wei Feng.

china open , badminton , goh v shem