PETALING JAYA: Mixed doubles shuttler Tan Kian Meng (pic) feels some of the burden on his shoulder has been lifted after reaching the quarter-finals.
Last month, the lanky Kian Meng chose to end his stint with the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) to join Lai Pei Jing as an independent player and is glad that he made the decision.
Kian Meng and Pei Jing defeated Steven Stallwood-Annie Lado of England 21-15,21-15 in the second round to set up a meeting against second seeds and former All-England champions Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino of Japan.
The odds are stacked against the Malaysians but Kian Meng hoped to keep the fight going.
“We are still trying hard to settle down as independent players. The journey is tough but we are very happy to come this far, ” said Kian Meng.
“We need to perform better to keep alive our challenge.”
The Malaysians have a better playing record against their opponents. They have won all three previous meetings – 2017 Sudirman Cup and the Singapore and Malaysia Opens in 2019.
The other Malaysian pair in the last eight are Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying, who defeated Thailand’s Nipitphon Phuangphuapet-Benyapa Aimsaard of Thailand 21-9,21-8 in the second round on Thursday.
The world No. 7 face a daunting task against France Thom Gicquel-Delphine Delrue, the most improved European pair this year.
Gicquel-Delrue continued to show they are a bane for Malaysian pairs when they fought tooth and nail to beat Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei 21-19,20-22,21-14 in another second round match. At the Swiss Open, they upstaged Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie.
Meanwhile, Goh V Shem took his exit in his stride.
On Thursday, V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong wasted a good opportunity to make a mark in the tournament when they went down 19-21,18-21 to Denmark’s Mathias Christiansen-Niclas Nohr in the second round.
“I did my best. The next tournament is the Opens in Malaysia and Singapore in June. Our chance to qualify for the Olympics is extremely hard now but I just want to play good badminton, ” said V Shem, who will return home on Monday.
Malaysia’s challenge in the men’s doubles ended with the defeat of another independent pair Teo Ee Yi-Ong Yew Sin.