PETALING JAYA: Playing in a world-class tournament behind closed doors is a surreal experience for many shuttlers and Shevon Lai Jemie is no exception.
However, the 27-year-old mixed doubles player is not bothered by the sometimes eerie atmosphere in the ongoing Yonex Thailand Open at the Impact Arena in Bangkok.
“I’m not sure about the others, but playing in a quiet and empty stadium doesn’t really matter much to me, ” said Shevon, who moved into the second round with Goh Soon Huat following a hard-fought 21-16,14-21,21-17 victory over France’s Ronan Labar-Anne Tran on Tuesday.
“I’m the kind of person who can’t hear or feel anything outside that rectangular box because I’ll be so focused on the match.
“That’s me, even when I’m reading, I won’t notice if someone is calling me!
“But if you play to a full-house crowd like in Malaysia or Indonesia then of course it does make a slight difference.”
The world No. 12 pair survived an early scare as they had to claw back from 11-17 down in the rubber game. But they managed to pull themselves together and reeled in 10 straight points to see off their world No. 42 rivals.
Shevon was relieved to have overcome some rustiness in their game ahead of the showdown with Thai top seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai today.
“It took a bit of time for us to get back into rhythm, but I’m glad we managed to overcome the difficult start and made it to the next stage, ” explained Shevon.
The Malaysians hold a superior head-to-head record winning six out of their 11 meetings, with their most recent victories in the quarter-finals at the China and Hong Kong Opens in 2019.
“I think past results will count for nothing because it’s been more than a year since we last met, ” added Shevon.
“We still have to bring out our A-game if we’re to beat them.”
Dechapol-Sapsiree also struggled with their game as they were given a run for their money by Malaysia’s world No. 35 Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See.
If Shevon-Soon Huat can overcome the top seeds then an all-Malaysian quarter-final is on the cards.
Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying are fancied to win their last 16 clash against world No. 16 Robin Tabeling-Selena Piek of Holland.
The world No. 7 opened their campaign with a 22-20,21-18 win over Indonesia’s Adnan Maulana-Mychelle Chrystine Bandaso.
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