PETALING JAYA: Cheam June Wei is the only men’s singles shuttler taking part in the Asian Badminton Championships in China.
But the 22-year-old’s trip to Wuhan almost turned out to be a nightmare.
June Wei was struggling against unheralded Sri Lanka’s Niluka Karunaratne before prevailing 21-11, 19-21, 21-18 in 63 minutes to reach the main draw yesterday.
The world No. 82 had earlier beaten Iran’s Amir Jabbari 21-13, 21-14 in the two-match qualifiers played in a round-robin group format.
He will take on Sitthikorn Thammasin of Thailand in the first round today and a win against the world No. 30 opponent could set him a last 16 meeting with world No. 2 Shi Yuqi of China.
June Wei was relieved to have survived the scare.
“Niluka is an experienced player. He switched strategies in the second and third game and that caught me off guard, “ said June Wei.
“When he drew level at 17-17, I felt the pressure and had fears of losing. This tournament means a lot to me as I look to catch up with my teammates in the national squad. I hope I’ll be able to beat some top players and do the best I can here.”
In the mixed doubles, world No. 5 Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying also saved themselves the blushes.
Peng Soon-Liu Ying were stretched to the limit before taming Singapore’s Danny Bawa Chrisnanta-Tan Wei Han 13-21, 22-20, 21-18.
They will continue their quest to reclaim the title they last won in 2010 against He Jiting-Du Yue of China in tomorrow’s second round.
Peng Soon-Liu Ying are the sole survivors after compatriots – Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing and Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei – failed to clear their opening hurdles.
Singapore Open finalists Kian Meng-Pei Jing put up a commendable display before going down 12-21, 21-14, 15-21 to world No. 1 Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong but Tang Jie-Yen Wei went down tamely 15-21, 17-21 to Hong Kong’s Yeung Ming Nok-Ng Tsz Yau.(Matches involving Malaysians only)
Group B: Cheam June Wei bt Amir Jabbari (Iri) 21-13, 21-14; Cheam June Wei bt Niluka Karunaratne (Sri) 21-11, 19-21, 21-18.
First round main draw
Mixed doublescTypeface:> Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying bt Danny Bawa Chrisnanta-Tan Wei Han (Sin) 13-21, 22-20, 21-18; Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong (Chn) bt Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing 21-12, 14-21, 21-15; Yeung Ming Nok-Ng Tsz Yau (Hkg) bt Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei 21-15, 21-17.