PETALING JAYA: The re-match of the World Championships final turned out to be anti-climax as Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik surrendered without much fight to Indonesian veterans Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia in the World Tour Finals in Bangkok yesterday.
Aaron-Wooi Yik, who upstaged Ahsan-Hendra in straight game in Tokyo four months ago, could not reproduce that magic as they fell to a 12-21, 15-21 loss in a Group B match.
The Malaysian pair, currently ranked world No. 4, have not been able to rediscover the form that has made them Malaysia’s first world champions in badminton but they are still not out of the race.
They can bounce back if they can beat China’s Liu Yuchen-Ou Xuanyi in their second match today. Yuchen-Xuanyi had a winning start yesterday when they defeated Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen of Denmark 21-11, 21-19 in another group match.
Meanwhile, independent mixed doubles pair Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing’s perseverance finally paid off when they toppled Olympic champions Wang Yilyu-Huang Dongping to get off to a confident start.
Although the odds were stacked heavily against them, world No. 8 Kian Meng-Pei Jing held their nerves to overcome Yilyu-Dongping 23-21, 14-21, 21-16 in 61 minutes in a Group B clash.
“We have lost to them seven times in a row. We are very happy to have beaten them for the first time,” said Pei Jing.
“We feel great and very satisfied with our game plan which worked today and our focus was great.”
Yilyu-Dongping were also not at their best. The Chinese world No 4 have been bugged by poor form and injuries since winning the mixed doubles gold in Tokyo last year and had only won the Korea Masters in April.
Kian Meng-Pei Jing had some tense moments in the first game when they allowed Yilyu-Dongping to level the score after leading 18-12 but they steadied themselves to win 23-21.
They also came back strongly after dropping the second game and kept a healthy lead in the deciding third game to ensure victory and give them a good chance of clinching a semi-final spot.
The victory is just the boost Kian Meng-Pei Jing needed as they had been unable to make much headway after their breakthrough win at the Korea Open in April.
Since that success, their best result was reaching the quarter-finals of the World Championships in Tokyo in August.
They also had to suffer the disappointment of failing to win the gold at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games where they settled for bronze. Singapore’s Terry Hee-Jessica Tan clinched gold.
Kian Meng, while happy over the victory, felt there was a long way to go and said they needed to keep their momentum going.
“We need stay focused for the next match,” he said.
It will be another difficult encounter as they take on Thailand’s World No. 1 Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai today.
Kian Meng-Pei Jing have been on a five-match losing streak against Dechapol-Sapsiree although they have beaten the Thai pair twice in nine meetings.
Dechapol-Sapsiree also got off to a winning start, beating their compatriots Supak Jomkoh-Suppissara Paewsampran 21-6, 25-23.
Victory for Kian Meng-Pei Jing against the Thais will virtually secure them a semi-final spot. But they will first have to reproduce the form they showed in the opening match.