IT was a tale of two shuttlers at the opposite end of their careers as one shone brightly while the other went down tamely in the first round of the Malaysian Masters.
Singles shuttler Ng Tze Yong caught the eye with an impressive 21-15, 21-15 win over Canada’s world No. 31 Brian Yang in 46 minutes while veteran Liew Daren lost out to Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka Long 21-17, 21-15.
Tze Yong, who is ranked 48th in the world, had to play two qualifying rounds on Tuesday but showed little signs of fatigue and was calm and composed throughout his match yesterday.
For Daren, the exit to Angus was his fourth consecutive opening round loss after experiencing the same fate in the Indonesian Masters, Indonesian and Malaysian Opens.
“I’ve been carrying back and groin injuries during these tournaments. Today, I was a bit slow and could not keep up with Angus’ speed. My confidence went down after the first game and I found it hard to recover,” explained the 34-year-old Daren.
He will now take a break to recover from his injuries and then prepare for the World Championships in Tokyo from Aug 21-28.
While Daren is in the twilight of his career, Tze Yong is only just beginning and has emerged as the country’s next big hope behind world No. 5 Lee Zii Jia.
This tournament is a good opportunity for the 22-year-old to show his mettle with Zii Jia choosing to give it a miss.
And Tze Yong has not disappointed the home fans thus far.
But he has a tough task ahead as his next match is against world No. 4 Chou Tien-chen for a place in the quarter-finals.
However, the youngster is up for the fight and eager to test himself against the experienced Taiwanese.
“It’s not every day you get to play against a top player like Tien-chen. I’m excited for the match. I hope I can maintain my performance,” added Tze Yong.
Meanwhile, independent player Soong Joo Ven, who also came through the qualifiers, found China’s Li Shifeng too hot to handle and went down 14-21, 12-21.
There was good news in the women’s singles as Goh Jin Wei stunned her training partner and world No. 16 Zhang Beiwen of the United States 21-19, 21-18 to book her place in the second round.
She, however, faces an uphill battle today against Taiwan’s world No. 2 Tai Tzu-ying.