Records show that our men’s doubles pairs are the most successful at the Malaysian Open but surprisingly, it has been a dry run since Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong’s triumph in 2014.
Prior to V Shem-Wee Kiong’s victory, Malaysians have won 31 titles in 65 editions with Indonesia a distant second with 12 titles.
And it is expected to be another toil for the current batch led by world champions Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik when the Malaysian Open begins at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil today.
That is why national doubles coaching director Rexy Mainaky has not put high hopes on a Malaysian triumph.
“My main concern at the Malaysian Open is to see Aaron-Wooi Yik play with quality which reflects their ranking. They need to produce what they have done in training. Let’s not talk about winning the title yet,” said Rexy.
Although Aaron-Wooi Yik had already broken new grounds by becoming the country’s first world champions in badminton, a feat they achieved in Tokyo in August last year, they have yet to win their first World Tour title.
Besides world No. 3 Aaron-Wooi Yik, the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) will also have Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani (No. 10) and Man Wei Chong-Tee Kai Wun (No. 19) and they will be joined by independent pair Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi in the event.
Aaron-Wooi Yik are seen as the favourites in their opening match but their opponents Lee Jhe-huei-Yang Po-hsuan of Taiwan are capable of troubling the top pairs.
Sze Fei-Izzuddin, who are trying to rediscover the form that won them the German Open title 11 months ago, will play Liang Weikeng-Wang Chang of China while Wei Chong-Kai Wun are up against second seeds Marcus Fernaldi-Kevin Sanjaya of Indonesia in their respective first-round matches.
Yew Sin-Ee Yi will also have to work hard to avoid a first-round defeat against young China pair Ren Xiangyu-Tan Qiang.
Rexy also reiterated that women’s doubles pair Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah must live up to their level as an elite pair.
“It is the first tournament of the year and it is going to be very unpredictable but I hope that our pairs can give a quality and consistent performance.
“It will not be an easy task as all pairs will have a challenging first-round clashes,” said Rexy.
Pearly-Thinaah have also struggled since winning the French Open two months ago but they should have a winning start against Bulgaria’s Gabriela and Stefani Stoeve.
Another BAM pair Goh Pei Kee-Teoh Mei Xing also received a break as they will replace Canadian pair Catherine Choi-Josephine Wu and will play independent pair Vivian Hoo-Lim Chiew Sien in the first round.
The event lost another top pair, second seeds Nami Matsuyama-Chiharu Shida due to illness as their teammates Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara had also pulled out a couple of days ago.
In the mixed doubles, the Malaysian Open will be grand send-off for Goh Liu Ying who has chosen to end her career in front of the home crowd with her long-time partner Chan Peng Soon.
The duo, who won the 2016 Rid de Janeiro Olympics silver medal, will play Indonesia’s Rehan Naufal-Lisa Ayu in their opening match.
“We started playing as a pair in the 2008 Malaysian Open and Malaysian Open will be our last tournament also. It will be emotional but I am not too sure if I will cry, maybe Peng Soon might (cry),” said a cheeky Liu Ying.
“Winning or losing doesn’t matter but we want to play in front of our fans for the last time. This atmosphere is going to be crazy as I know how our fans will support us and I want to enjoy every moment here.”
Should Peng Soon-Lu Ying prevail, they could set up an all-Malaysia second-round clash against either Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing or Chen Tang Jie-Toh Ee Wei.