PETALING JAYA: It was a happy reunion for former world No. 1 Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, combining again to power into the third round of the World Championships in Huelva.
The Rio de Janeiro Olympics men’s doubles silver medallists had to dig deep into their reserves before taming Japanese youngsters Masayuki Onodera-Hiroki Okamura 21-15, 22-24, 21-16 in 66 minutes.
V Shem-Wee Kiong, who had parted ways in August, are making a one-off appearance together for the sake of the world meet this week, having qualified for it.
It was certainly a great decision as they now stand a great chance of landing a coveted medal at the world meet, thanks to a spate of withdrawal involving top-ranked pairs from Indonesia.
V Shem-Wee Kiong should have no problem beating unheralded German duo Bjarne Geiiss-Jan Colin Volker today to book their first quarter-final berth at the world meet.
They have not done better than last-16 in all their previous four appearances.
V Shem, 32, has refused to get carried away just yet.
“We’re not underestimating the Germans. We shouldn’t be, especially against opponents we have not played before,” said V Shem.
“Once we reach the quarters, then we’ll try to go all the way.”
Wee Kiong, also 32, echoed V Shem’s sentiment.
“Our immediate target is pretty simple, we’re trying to get a better result than the one we had in the past years (last 16),” said Wee Kiong, who did make it to last eight with Hoon Thien How in Copenhagen 2014.
On their hard-fought win over the Japanese world No. 56, trained by former national coach Tan Kim Her, Wee Kiong said: “They’re young and energetic pair. In the second game, they increased their tempo and forced us to commit many simple errors.
“It’s disappointing that we couldn’t finish the match in straight games, we need to polish on a few things to make our game more solid.
“I would say we’re performing at around 60-70% of what we’re truly capable of.”
Meanwhile, it was the end of the road for fellow independent shuttler Liew Daren.
Daren found India’s H. S. Prannoy too hot to handle as he went down 7-21, 17-21, dashing his hopes of adding a second medal at the World Championships.
Daren’s surprise bronze medal feat in Nanjing 2018 made him the only third Malaysian to win a medal in the men’s singles event besides Lee Chong Wei and Wong Choong Hann.
Meanwhile, Lee Zii Jia is the now the sole flag bearer in the event after surviving a scare from Brazilian Ygor Coelho.
The All-England champion was made to sweat for 58 minutes before he was able to fend off the world No. 50 challenge with a 14-21, 24-22, 21-14 win.