PETALING JAYA: Mixed doubles specialist Lai Pei Jing says she still feels a great deal of pressure despite no longer being a national team member.
But it’s also the weight of expectation that helps the 29-year-old thrive with partner Tan Kian Meng as the world No. 12 got off to a flying start in the Denmark Open in Odense on Tuesday.
Kian Meng-Pei Jing stunned world No. 9 Hafiz Faizal-Gloria Widjaja 21-17, 21-14 to mark their first win over top 10 opponents in two years.
The last time Kian Meng-Pei Jing scalped a top 10 pair was in the first round of the 2019 French Open when they upset then world No. 6 compatriots Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying.
“It’s quite a refreshing result for us as it’s been a long time since we last beaten a top 10 pair,” said Pei Jing.
“We’re really happy with the win and this shows that we’re pretty much on the right track.
“It’s not easy as this is my first tournament since the All-England. Fortunately, Kian Meng was already in full competitive mode having played in the Dutch Open (in men’s doubles with Tan Wee Kiong) last week.
“In fact, there’s some pressure because I expect myself to perform well each time I go to the court.
“Having trained hard and prepared well for the tournaments, I don’t want to let myself down.”
It has been eight months since Pei Jing was dropped by the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM), but the Denmark Open is only her and Kian Meng’s third appearance as independent shuttlers.
They will be aiming to keep their solid progress going after making it to the semi-finals of the Swiss Open and quarter-finals of the All-England in March. Kian Meng-Pei Jing will face Ko Sung-hyun-Eom Hye-won of South Korea today for a place in the last eight.
A win will most likely pit them against All-England winners Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino.
Meanwhile, world No. 25 Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See were handed a reality check following their heroic feat that helped Malaysia win bronze at the Sudirman Cup in Finland three weeks ago.
They were beaten 21-14, 17-21, 18-21 by India’s newly-formed combination Dhruv Kapila-N. Sikki Reddy. Hopes were high on Pang Ron-Yee See to build on their impressive performance which saw them beat world No. 7 Marcus Ellis-Lauren Smith of England and world No. 4 Praveen Jordan-Melati Daeva of Indonesia.