PETALING JAYA: National men’s singles shuttlers led by Soong Joo Ven will have a chance to usher in the post-Lee Chong Wei era with an encouraging start at the Malaysian International Series in Ipoh today.
Although it is just a low-tier satellite tournament, there’s plenty to prove for Datuk Misbun Sidek’s charges at the Arena Badminton Perak this week.
World No. 72 Joo Ven and No. 91 Cheam June Wei face a must-deliver situation as they are the two highest-ranked players in the field.
Failing to nail a title would only underline further that there’s something wrong with Malaysian badminton.
The other six members in the squad will also be eager to impress. They are Lim Chi Wing, Leong Jun Hao, Tan Jia Wei, Muhd Ziyad Tah, Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin and Lim Chong King.
Chi Wing, a two-time national champion, will be aiming to improve on his semi-final outing last year.
The 24-year-old is under immense pressure to put up a good show after coaching director Wong Choong Hann admitted that his days are numbered.
Joo Ven, meanwhile, is seeking a happy return to the venue that saw him become the national champion for the first time in February.
“It’s good to be back in Ipoh, hopefully there’s something special in store again for me,” said Joo Ven.
The former Asian Junior Championships silver medallist will be in buoyant mood after making the quarter-finals of the World Tour’s Australian Open two weeks ago.
“Despite being the top seed, I’m going to deal with it one round at a time,” said Joo Ven.
“There will be no easy match because there are a lot of opponents out there I have not faced before. I must tread with caution.”
Joo Ven, who opens his campaign against a qualifier, is expected to face his first test against Thailand’s Pannawit Thongnuam in the third round.
Defending champion Gatjraq Piliang Fiqhila Cupu of Indonesian could stand in his way in the last eight.
June Wei’s road to the final will not be easy either as he could cross paths with talented Indonesian youngsters – Ikshan Leonardo Imanuel Rumbay, last year’s Asian Junior Championships bronze medallist and Christian Adinata, currently the No. 5 ranked world junior shuttler.
The hosts are also looking to capture the men’s doubles and mixed doubles titles where independent pair Chooi Kah Ming-Low Juan Shen and Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei are the top seeds.
In women’s singles, S. Kisona aims to make it three titles in a row. She is however unseeded and is set to face third seed Bening Sri Rahayu of Indonesia in the second round.
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