PETALING JAYA: Newly-minted world No. 3 Lee Yang of Taiwan really adores Malaysian former doubles ace Koo Kien Keat.
The 26-year-old and Wang Chi-lin stole the limelight when they swept all three titles at the Asian leg of the World Tour in Bangkok last month.
Lee Yang revealed his admiration for Kien Keat that he once tried to emulate his flamboyant style of play to no avail.
He still kept the photo he took with Kien Keat in 2016 as the profile picture of his LINE chatting app.
“Koo Kien Keat... if he’s still playing, ” replied Lee Yang when asked by Kien Keat’s former partner Tan Boon Heong who he would love to team up with during a Facebook live session hosted by the latter recently.
“I really enjoyed watching him in action. He’s a one-of-a-kind, stylish and so cool. There’s no way I can emulate him!
“In fact I loved watching both of you big brothers (referring to Kien Keat-Boon Heong) play those days, I was still in high school back then.
“I didn’t relate to any of my fellow countrymen at that time, but I could with both of you. You guys are really entertaining to watch and won many titles at one point. It left a deep impression on me.”
Last month, Lee Yang-Chi-lin, who teamed up in 2019, shot to instant stardom with their feats in Thailand.
They defeated Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong in the Thailand Open I final and then pipped Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik to the Thailand Open II title the following week.
And they sealed their third in style by downing reigning world champions Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia to become the first Taiwanese men’s pair to win the season-ending World Tour Finals.
They took home US$270,000 (RM1.1mil) and shot up from No. 7 to a career-best No. 3 last week.
This has led to fans looking forward to their potential clash with world No. 1 Kevin Sanjaya-Marcus Fernaldi.
The Indonesians did not play in Bangkok after Kevin was tested positive for Covid-19.
“I think they will be very tough to beat, everyone is placing too much expectation on us, ” said Lee Yang.
“They think we are really strong. It just happened that we managed to maintain a winning streak.
“Truthfully, we are not as strong as people think. Although we are world No. 3, I don’t think we’re there yet.”