In buoyant mood






Confident: Mixed doubles pair Tan Kian Meng (right) and Lai Pei Jing are starting to believe in themselves following their good run at the recent Malaysian and Singapore Opens.

Confident: Mixed doubles pair Tan Kian Meng (right) and Lai Pei Jing are starting to believe in themselves following their good run at the recent Malaysian and Singapore Opens.

PETALING JAYA: Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing could not have asked for a tougher opening round draw in the Asian Badminton Championships (ABC) which begins in Wuhan, China today.

But the rejuvenated national mixed doubles pair are ready to upset the formbooks when they face world No. 1 Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong of China tomorrow.

There’s plenty to play for as they make one final push for the Sudirman Cup squad.

Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie, the country’s top two pairs, are initially the frontrunners for the two spots to the prestigious mixed team competition in Nanning, China from May 19-26.

But all that could change if Kian Meng-Pei Jing impress the selectors.

The pair have been in good form of late, bouncing back from five first round defeats to reach the last four of the Malaysian Open and coming in runners-up at the Singapore Open.

They had since moved up from No. 38 to No. 21 in the world rankings and another decent result this week could see them break into the top 20. It will certainly put their bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games back on track.

But it’s the Sudirman Cup that Kian Meng-Pei Jing are eyeing for.

When asked if he still harbours hopes of making the team, Kian Meng swiftly answered: “That’s for sure.”

The lanky 24-year-old went on to add: “Selection is not within our control. All Pei Jing and I need to do is to perform well. We will let the results do the talking for us.”

The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) have until next Friday (May 3) to name the line-up.

Kian Meng said the pair are unfazed by Siwei-Yaqiong’s reputation.

“On paper, they are certainly the favourites. But we don’t fear anyone,” said a determined Kian Meng.

“Playing against top opponents have always been a motivation for us, it always tends to get the best out of us in fact.

“Our recent (first round) victories over Japan’s Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino (at the Malaysian and Singapore Opens) made us believe in ourselves even more.”

Should Kian Meng-Pei Jing beat the Chinese, the path is clear for them to the quarter-finals. They should face little trouble against unheralded Amrullo Bakhshullaev-Sevinch Sodi­kova of Uzbekistan in the second round.

The other two Malaysian pairs in the mixed doubles fray are 2010 winners Peng Soon-Liu Ying and youngsters Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei.

Soon Huat-Shevon had withdrawn earlier no thanks to a thigh injury sustained by the former.

Also competing this week are Chong Wei Feng and Cheam June Wei in the men’s singles; Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi and Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub-Arif Abdul Latif (men’s doubles); Soniia Cheah and Lee Ying Ying (women’s singles); Vivian Hoo-Yap Cheng Wen and Anna Cheong-Lim Chiew Sien (women’s doubles).

Liew Daren and Goh Jin Wei were the other Malaysian shuttlers entered for the tournament but withdrew last week.