PETALING JAYA: Forget about the race to the Tokyo Olympics, it is qualifying for the World Tour Finals that’s most important for Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong and Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik in the next three weeks.
The two top Malaysian men’s doubles pairs are locked in an intense battle to make the top eight cut for the lucrative US$1.5mil (RM6.2mil) season-ending showpiece in Guangzhou, China, from Dec 11-15.
V Shem-Wee Kiong are currently placed eighth in the Race to Guangzhou rankings while Aaron-Wooi Yik sit only two rungs back ahead of the Fuzhou China Open, the third last World Tour stop which begins today.
And Aaron-Wooi Yik have a good chance to narrow the gap or even overtake V Shem-Wee Kiong if they can pull off a big result this week.
Aaron-Wooi Yik have a more decent draw than their compatriots. They will open their campaign against India’s Manu Attri-B. Sumeeth Reddy of India tomorrow.
If they advance, they will meet the winners of the match between Indonesia’s Fajar Alfian-Muhammad Rian Ardianto and Taiwan’s Liao Min-chun-Su Ching-heng.
V Shem-Wee Kiong could face early elimination unless they upset the form books to overcome world No. 1 Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo today.
V Shem-Wee Kiong have lost in six of their previous seven meetings with the mighty Indonesians, including three times this year. The latest defeat was in the last 16 of the Korean Open in September.
Both pairs have plenty of reason for wanting to make it to the Guangzhou meet.
Besides assuring themselves of good world ranking points, the World Tour Finals qualifiers also get to pocket no less than US$10,500 (RM44,000) in prize money, with a whopping US$126,000 (RM523,000) jackpot awaiting the winners.
Wooi Yik said it was crucial for them to book their ticket to Guangzhou as they are also in a close fight with V Shem-Wee Kiong for the right to represent the country at the Tokyo Olympics.
“We have to try catch up with V Shem-Wee Kiong. We have to either overtake them in the rankings or join them in the World Tour Finals, ” said Wooi Yik.
“If they qualify and we don’t, they are going to break away from us in the world rankings. We can’t afford to let them widen the gap.
“There’s every chance for us to still make a difference in the final three World Tour events, starting in Fuzhou this week.”
The last two World Tour stops will be the Hong Kong Open next week (Nov 12-17) and Gwangju Korean Masters (Nov 19-24).
Meanwhile, singles player Liew Daren has been handed a last-minute entry into the main draw of the men’s competition – thanks to the withdrawal of India’s K. Srikanth.
But it’s not all good news. Substitute Daren finds himself taking on World No. 1 Kento Momota of Japan today.
“It’s still a blessing to get to play in Fuzhou. There’s nothing to lose, I will just give my best and see how it goes, ” said Daren.
The other Malaysian shuttlers in action today are Lee Zii Jia in the men’s singles; Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (men’s doubles); Vivian Hoo-Yap Cheng Wen (women’s doubles); and Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing (mixed doubles).
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