A mighty task in England

Tough draw: Lee Zii Jia has been pitted against Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie.

PETALING JAYA: National top men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik need to do the unthinkable if they are to reach their second successive final at the All-England badminton championship from March 11-15 – they need to beat world No. 1 Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo-Marcus Fernaldi Gideon.

The Malaysian world No. 8 pair Aaron-Wooi Yik have been drawn in the same quarter as the mighty Indonesians, whom they have never beaten in their six meetings.

Aaron-Wooi Yik are certainly in need of a winning formula against Kevin-Marcus as the three most recent defeats were recorded this year, including at last week’s Asia Team Championships final.

Aaron-Wooi Yik were also beaten by the Indonesians in the quarter-finals of the Malaysian Masters and semi-finals of the Indonesian Masters last month.

The Malaysian pair, who finished runners-up to Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan last year, face a tricky opening hurdle against training mates Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani.

If they advance, they will most probably face Denmark’s world No. 14 Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Ramussen. They hold a superior 4-1 head-to-head record against the Danes. And if they get past the Danes, the Indonesian nemeses await.

Independent pair Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi are the other Malaysians in the men’s doubles action.

The Thailand Masters champions will open their campaign against China’s He Jiting-Tan Qiang.

In the men’s singles, Lee Zii Jia could not have asked for a tougher draw after being pitted against world No. 7 Jonatan Christie.

Zii Jia was outclassed by Jonatan, the 2018 Asian Games champion, the last time they met in the team event final of the Philippines SEA Games in December, extending the Malaysian’s losing run to five matches.

However, Jonatan is not unbeatable.

He lost to Malaysia’s second singles player Cheam June Wei in the Asia Team Championships last week.

In the event Zii JIa upsets Jonatan, he should meet Thailand’s Kanta-phon Wangcharoen or China’s Lu Guangzu before reigning Olympic champion Chen Long awaits him in the quarter-finals.

The men’s singles is set to be an open affair in the absence of world No. 1 and defending champion Kento Momota.

The Japanese could be out for up to three months after undergoing eye surgery.

Taiwan’s Chou Tien-chen and Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, seeded first and second respectively, will be out to live up to their top billings as they bid to win their maiden All-England crown.

Tien-chen will also aim to create history as the first Taiwanese men’s singles player to accomplish the feat while Axelsen could reclaim the title that Peter-Gade Christensen last won for Denmark in 1999 if he triumphs.

In the mixed doubles, Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie face a tall order in repeating their outstanding run to the semi-finals last year.

Soon Huat-Shevon could cross paths with world No. 1 Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong of China in the last eight.

They landed South Korea’s Seo Seung-jae-Chae Yu-jung in the opener, but it’s not known whether the latter would play following Seung-jae’s suspension from the national team earlier this month.

The other matches see Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying take on former world junior champions Rinov Rivaldy-Pitha Haningtyas Mentari while Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing should have no problem ousting Canada’s Joshua Hurlburt-Yu-Josephine Wu.

Soniia Cheah, the sole Malaysian representative in the women’s singles, faces an early exit as she has world No. 5 Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand to deal with.

In the women’s doubles, Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean have a first round meeting with China’s Li Wenmei-Zheng Yu while Vivian Hoo-Yap Cheng Wen meet India’s Pooja Dandu-Sanjana Santosh.

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