Singles shuttlers step up in Zii Jia’s absence

Impressive form: Ng Tze Yong in action against Yeoh Seng Zoe in the qualifying round. — GLENN GUAN/The Star

FANS who were disappointed with Zii Jia’s absence from the Malaysian Masters ended up with huge smiles when the other men’s singles shuttlers stepped up and advanced to the main draw yesterday.

Leong Jun Hao, ranked 130th in the world, was the pick of the bunch when he stunned China’s 50th ranked Weng Hongyang 5-21, 21-17, 21-13 in the second qualifying round in 65 minutes.

Jun Hao, who had not been performing well, had been given an opportunity to prove himself after several players withdrew and he grabbed it with both hands.

Earlier, he had come out on top against compatriot Cheam June Wei in another gruelling encounter, winning 16-21, 21-15, 21-16 in 53 minutes.

On his win over Hongyang, Jun Hao said: “I’m very happy to beat a higher-ranked player. In the first game, he played aggressively and I found it hard to control the shuttle due to the draught.

“In the second game, I didn’t think much and just went all out to get the points.

“This win will definitely give me some confidence as I have not played well for some time. I will use this win as further motivation to do well in my next match.”

The 22-year-old will take on Thailand’s world No. 23 Kantaphon Wangcharoen in the first round of the tournament proper.

Ng Tze Yong and Soong Joo Ven also joined Jun Hao in the main draw.

Tze Yong impressively dismissed both compatriot Yeoh Seng Zoe (21-12, 21-13) and South Korea’s Lee Dong Keun (21-8, 21-12) in straight games.

The youngster was satisfied with his performances so far and hoped to continue his good work.

He will play Canada’s world No. 31 Brian Yang next.

Independent player Joo Ven, meanwhile, had to fight hard for his place in the first round, beating teammate Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin 14-21, 21-14, 21-16 and Denmark’s Victor Svendsen 21-9, 16-21, 21-10.He will face China’s Li Shifeng next for a place in the second round.

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