PETALING JAYA: Have the national No. 1 men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik finally found a winning formula against their higher-ranked rivals?
The world No. 9 better do or otherwise they can forget about challenging for a medal in their Olympics debut in Tokyo later this month.
So far Aaron-Wooi Yik have not won a major title and have not beaten the top six pairs in the world except for world No. 2 Mohamad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia once at the Fuzhou China Open in 2019. Aside from that win, they have lost six times to Ahsan-Hendra.
And they have been winless against the other five pairs. They lost all seven meetings (0-7) to world No. 1 Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo of Indonesia, No. 3 Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin of Taiwan (0-3), No. 4 Hiroyuki Endo-Yuta Watanabe (0-2) and No. 5 Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda (0-2) of Japan and No. 6 Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen of China (0-5).
The pressure will surely be on head coach Flandi Limpele, who was roped in 12 months ago in a bid to turn Aaron-Wooi Yik into medal contenders at the postponed Tokyo Games.
The hope is that the 47-year-old Indonesian can work his magic on the duo, just like what he did for India’s top pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty.
In his one-year spell, Flandi helped the pair win the 2019 Thailand Open for their maiden World Tour victory en route to scaling the world’s top 10 ranking for the first time.
Satwiksairaj-Chirag also came out tops against Ahsan-Hendra, Endo-Yuta Watanabe and Junhui-Yuchen that year.
Although the Malaysian pair came in runners-up to Lee Yang-Chi-lin at the Thailand Open 2, they would go on to lose to the likes of Russia’s Ivan Sozonov-Vladimir Ivanov (in the Word Tour Finals group stage) and Mark Lamsfuss-Marvin Seidel of Germany (in the Swiss Open semi-finals).
Flandi does not seem to be perturbed by their dip in form.
Instead, Flandi believes that the lengthy four-month tournament absence prior to the Tokyo Games has given him an opportunity to address what’s lacking in the pair’s game.
“I have prepared them the best I could, ” said Flandi.
“Most of their weaknesses have been rectified and I also helped them strengthen their mental strength and confidence.
“And I believe that by producing their A-game, they will succeed at the Olympics.”
Aaron-Wooi Yik will be waiting anxiously to find out in today’s draw who they will play in the preliminary group stage.
With only the top four pairs seeded, Aaron-Wooi Yik could find themselves being drawn together with two of their nemeses.
The other qualifiers are South Korea’s Seo Seung-jae-Choi Sol-gyu, Satwiksairaj-Chirag, Denmark’s Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen, Lamsfuss-Seidel, Ivanov-Sozonov, England’s Ben Lane-Sean Vendy, Canada’s Jason Ho-Shue-Nyl Yakura, Chew brothers Phillip and Ryan of the United States and Nigeria’s Godwin Olofua-Anuoluwapo Juwon Opeyori.