KUALA LUMPUR: A final between two world class mixed doubles pairs is set to be the saving grace for the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) Invitational Championships which has been plagued by a series of withdrawals from top players.
World No. 7 Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying and No. 11 Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing are set to take centrestage as the five-day national team internal tournament reaches its finale today.
The hectic schedule saw top singles players Lee Zii Jia, Soong Joo Ven and Liew Daren limping out with cramps and they were forced to pull out on Friday.
After the round-robin action, Pei Jing (pic) believes both mixed doubles pairs would be able to hit form and dish out top fare for the fans.
“I’m excited and looking forward to the final, ” said Pei Jing.
“As the mixed doubles did not have to play two matches a day, both pairs are well rested and should be in top condition. So, hopefully four of us can play a high quality game not only for our own satisfaction, but for the fans out there as well.
“We want to make it memorable for those watching the tournament on live streaming.”
Rio Olympics silver medallists Peng Soon-Liu Ying may be the country’s top-ranked pair in recent years, but Kian Meng-Pei Jing have been difficult opponents for them.
Kian Meng-Pei Jing hold a superior 2-1 head-to-head record over Peng Soon-Liu Ying on the international stage, with their last victory being in the first round of the French Open last October.
On the domestic front, Kian Meng-Pei Jing have also got the better of their seniors, going by the hard-fought 21-19,16-21,21-10 win during the round-robin stage on Thursday.
The win saw them finish their preliminary campaign unbeaten in all three matches to qualify for the final as group champions.
Pei Jing, however, believes past records would count for nothing as she played down their chances of securing a third straight win overt Peng Soon-Liu Ying.
“We got to play our best. Rather than thinking about winning or losing, we’re more concerned about our performance, ” said Pei Jing.
“It’s still nowhere near our best, but it’s getting better after every match.”
Said Peng Soon: “Kian Meng-Pei Jing have always been among the best mixed pairs in the country and our teammates for many years. They know our game too well, so it’s not surprising that we always find it tough against them.
“May the best pair win in the final.”
A victory for Kian Meng-Pei Jing would be a massive boost for them.
Prior to the suspension of the badminton season due to Covid-19, the duo who were last year’s Singapore Open winners have been dealing with inconsistent form.
They started the year well by reaching the semi-finals of the Thailand Masters and Indonesian Masters in January, but then lost early at the Spain Masters in February and All-England in March.