Malaysian shuttlers fail to shine in all departments

Malaysias Lee Chong Wei competing against Indonesias Tommy Sugiarto during semi finals match of the Celcom Axiata Malaysia Open 2018 in Axiata Arena, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur. FAIHAN GHANI/The Star.

KUALA LUMPUR: National top singles player Lee Chong Wei (pic) admits that it’s a year to forget for Malaysian badminton.

For the first time in many years, Malaysia will end the season without any top-10 player in the world in four events – men’s singles and doubles, women’s singles and doubles.

Only mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying are ranked in the top 10 – but the duo quit the national team recently to turn professional.

Former No. 1 Chong Wei slipped to 15th in the recent world ranking but the drop is understandable as he has not competed in any tournament since his semi-final finish at the Indonesian Open in July after being diagnosed with nose cancer.

Chong Wei and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie are the only Malaysians to have won major Open titles this year when they emerged as the Malaysia and Singapore Opens champions.

Except for Soon Huat-Shevon and Peng Soon-Liu Ying, none qualified for the recent World Tour Finals in Guangzhou, China.

It’s a pale shadow in comparison to the early years of the grand season-finale in 2008 and 2009 when Malaysia used to be winners.

Malaysia flopped at this year’s Thomas Cup Finals, World Championships and Asian Games.

The only saving grace was winning two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, in April but that too was not well received by many as the team failed to meet a three-gold target after losing to former badminton minnows India and England.

Chong Wei said the position of Malaysians in the world ranking underlined the nation’s unproductive 2018.

“I feel bad that I could not help Malaysian badminton as I did not have a good year myself. The illness (cancer) pulled me down,” said Chong Wei.

The three-time Olympic silver medallist has recovered from his illness but the earliest he can return to training is in January.

“Overall, it has not been a good year for Malaysia. Our players did not get the desirable results. There were one or two good results but other countries have really done well,” he said.

Chong Wei is banking on the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director Wong Choong Hann to change the fortune of Malaysia next year.

“I’ve faith on Choong Hann. He’ll bring in new ideas and we hope he’ll turn many of our young players into world-beaters and hopefully, we’ll see our second echelon of players showing fighting spirit.

“I’m also looking forward to returning next year. It’s an important year as it’s the Olympic qualifying year (starting from May).

“Together, I hope to see Malaysia rise again as a strong badminton nation.”

Malaysian players need to improve their world ranking to the top 16 to stand a chance of qualifying for the Olympics.

This year, the most outstanding nation has to be Japan.

They dominated most of the major tournaments and have Kento Momota and Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota as the world No. 1s in the men’s singles and women’s doubles respectively.

In the women’s doubles, they have five pairs in the top 10.

Indonesia continued to show their prowess in the doubles events and also underlined their strength in the men’s singles through Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie (world No. 11), Anthony Ginting (No. 7) and Tommy Sugiarto (No. 10) while China are still standing strong although struggling with inconsistent players in the women’s department.

(Only top 10)

Men’s singles: 1. Kento Momota (Jpn), 2. Shi Yuqi (Chn), 3. Chou Tienchen (Tpe), 4. Viktor Axelsen (Den), 5. Chen Long (Chn), 6. Son Wan-ho (Kor), 7. Anthony Ginting (Ina), 8. K. Srikanth (Ind), 9. Kenta Nishimoto (Jpn), 10. Tommy Sugiarto (Ina).
Selected: 15. Lee Chong Wei, 24. Liew Daren, 42. Lee Zii Jia, 43. Chong Wei Feng, 75. Soong Joo Ven, 77. Leong Jun Hao, 78. Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, 83. Cheam June Wei.

Men’s doubles: 1. Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (Ina), 2. Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen (Chn), 3. Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda (Jpn), 4. Chen Hung-ling-Wang Chi-lin (Tpe), 5. Liu Cheng-Zhang Nan (Chn), 6. Fajar Alfian-Muhd Rian Ardianto (Ina), 7. Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmusen (Den), 8. Hiroyuki Endo-Yuta Watanabe (Jpn), 9. Hendra Setiawan-Mohd Ahsan (Ina), 10. Han Chengkai-Zhou Haodong (Chn).
Selected: 15. Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, 22. Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, 29. Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi, 33. Mohd Arif Abdul Latif-Nur Azriyn Ayob, 47. Chooi Kah Ming-Low Juan Shen. 48. Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani, 55. Shia Chun Kang-Tan Wee Gieen.

Women’s singles: 1. Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe), 2. Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn), 3. Chen Yufei (Chn), 4. Carolina Marin (Spa), 5. Nozomi Okuhara (Jpn), 6. P.V. Sindhu (Ind), 7. He Bingjiao (Chn), 8. Ratchanok Intanon (Tha), 9. Saina Nehwal (Ind), 10. Sung Ji-hyun (Kor).
Selected: 28. Goh Jin Wei, 31. Soniia Cheah, 39. Lee Ying Ying, 97. S. Kisona.

Women’s doubles: 1. Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota (Jpn), 2. Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi (Jpn), 3. Mayu Matsutomo-Wakana Nagahara (Jpn), 4. Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu (Ina), 5. Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan (Chn), 6. Shiho Tanaka-Koharu Yonemoto (Jpn), 7. Lee So-hee-Shin Seung-chan (Kor), 8. Jongkolphan KititharakulRawinda Prajongjai (Tha), 9. Gabriela Stoeva-Stefani Stoeva (Bul), 10. Ayako Sakuramoto-Yukiko Takahata (Jpn).
Selected: 18. Chow Mei KuanLee Meng Yean, 39. Vivian Hoo-Yap Cheng Wen.

Mixed doubles: 1. Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong (Chn), 2. Wang Yilyu-Huang Yaqiong (Chn), 3. Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino (Jpn), 4. Tontowi Ahmad-Liliyana Natsir (Ina), 5. Tang Chun Man-Tse Ying Suet (Hkg), 6. Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (Mas), 7. Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha), 8. Chris Adcok-Gabrielle Adcock (Eng), 9. Mathias Christiansen-Christinna Pedersen (Den), 10. Zhang Nan-Li Yinhui (Chn).
Selected: 11. Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie, 24. Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing, 34. Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei, 61. Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See.

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