First-round collisions between mixed pairs draw discontent

Our hearts will go on: Tan Kian Meng and Lai Pei Jing going through their paces at a training session at the Axiata Arena. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS / The Star

It’s cruel to be pitted against each other so early in a tournament.

And that’s why mixed doubles pairs Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie are hoping that the Badminton World Federation will review their draw system.

World No. 9 Kian Meng-Pei Jing have been drawn against teammates Soon Huat-Shevon (No. 14) not once but twice – in the opening rounds of the Malaysian Open starting tomorrow and the Malaysian Masters the following week.

What makes it even more unbearable is that both are home tournaments and the independent shuttlers need the mileage to go as far as possible to impress their sponsors.

Kian Meng knows he has no choice but to slug it out but hopes they will not be unlucky in future tournaments.

“I’m disappointed with the draw as every match is important for independent pairs. Actually, all four of us are unhappy as one will be knocked out early,” said Kian Meng.

“It’s different when you play against players from other countries.”

Shevon echoed her compatriot’s feelings, labelling the draw as ‘cruel’.

“When we saw the draw, our hearts sank. It’s not good for us to meet our compatriots so early in both the home tournaments,” said Shevon.

“We want more Malaysian pairs to progress as far as possible. It’s cruel but we have no choice but to fight against each other.”

Kian Meng-Pei Jing have won only two out of their six meetings against Soon Huat-Shevon. In the last meeting between the pairs last March at the Swiss Open, Soon Huat-Shevon came out tops.

The winner of the all-Malaysian encounter tomorrow will likely play South Korea’s Kim Won-ho-Jeong Na-eun in the second round.

Kian Meng wants to step up as he had suffered a dip in form with Pei Jing after winning the Korean Open in April.

The pair have been eliminated in the first round of their last three tournaments – Thailand Open, Indonesian Masters and Indonesian Open.

“This situation is quite normal. After winning the Korean Open, maybe we were trying to rush things too much in our matches. We need to work on improving our consistency,” said Kian Meng.

The 28-year-old and Pei Jing is setting their sights on getting into the top eight of the world rankings and also ensuring qualification for the season-ending World Tour Finals.

And the pair know that a good performance in the Malaysian Open could pave the way to reaching these two goals.

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