CHRISTMAS and New Year are over, boys. It’s time to get serious.
This was what national doubles coaching director Rexy Mainaky had to say after his three men’s doubles pairs crashed out in the preliminary rounds of the Malaysian Open.
The message was loud and clear for world champions Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, who lost in the second round, and Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani and Man Wei Chong-Tee Kai Wun, who fell in their first-round matches.
Rexy wasn’t too harsh on his charges as this was the first tournament of the year but the Indonesian believes the pairs did not try enough to make a strong impression in front of their own supporters.
China’s world No. 5 Liu Yuchen-Ou Xuanyi secured their third win in a row over world No. 3 Aaron-Wooi Yik where the Malaysians surrendered easily with a 10-21, 21-23 defeat.
They did find their touch in the second game when leading 12-3 but led down their guard to allow their rivals to secure another psychological-boosting win.
Sze Fei-Izzuddin started well but stumbled when their China rivals Liang Weikeng-Wang Chang staged a fightback (16-21, 21-11, 21-17) while Wei Chong-Kai Wun could not find a breakthrough against Indonesians Marcus Fernaldi-Kevin Sanjaya.
Rexy added that the players were not expected to win titles all the time but at least produce a quality performance to repay the faith of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) and the fans in them.
“They (the national team) must understand that Christmas and New Year celebrations are over and the Santa Claus who wanted to give them presents is gone, so they have to get back to focusing on serious work. No more holidays,” said Rexy.
“Reasons such as the pressure of playing in one’s own country cannot be used by world class players like them. Look at the Indonesian, Japanese, South Korean doubles who are able to perform the best in their own country.
“We did not expect them to win but they must understand that they are provided with the funding and every other assistance they need to achieve success in their careers. Then there are the fans who have been supporting them all the way. They cannot take it too easy.
“Aaron-Wooi Yik started badly but they did come back in the second game and were leading 12-3. At that stage, they should not have allowed the opponents to fight back. When the Chinese pair were leading 13-3 in the first game, they never relaxed. That’s the way to do it.
“Sze Fei-Izzuddin started well but they did not keep up the pressure while Wei Chong-Kai Wun had no finishing. They have to earn the victories and not to expect the opponents to hand them in a silver platter.
“We need to get back into serious work and it will start immediately.”
Rexy said that each player would have a specific individual programme to cover their weaknesses besides the regular group training sessions.
He also wants the players to be pro-active and make changes in their lifestyle to become true professionals.
“We will be analysing the areas of improvement needed by each player and an individual programme will be set up. It can be a weakness in physical aspect, technical and tactical adjustments or specific skills,” said Rexy.
“The onus is also on the players to approach us if they need additional training to improve certain skills that is lacking in their game.
“They train about eight hours a day but what makes them successful is the way they manage the remaining eight hours.
“They have to become true professionals. Eat the right food, take sufficient rest and focus on things that can make them better players.”
Rexy, on the other hand, defended women’s doubles Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah, who lost to Bulgarians Gabriela Stoeva-Stefanie Stoeva in the first round, as he would employ men’s doubles pairs for sparring.
He will propose to BAM to hire men pairs to spar with Pearly-Thinaah.
Rexy felt that it would be unfair to use the current national men’s pairs for sparring as it would hamper their progress.
Men’s singles: Viktor Axelsen (Den) bt Kenta Nishimoto (Jpn) 21-6, 21-12; Kunlavut Vitidsarn (Tha) bt Loh Kean Yew (Sin) 21-11, 20-22, 21-14; Kodai Naraoka (Jpn) bt H.S. Prannoy (Ind) 21-16, 19-21, 21-10; Kanta Tsuneyama (Jpn) bt Anthony Ginting (Ina) 21-14, 21-16.
Men’s doubles: Kang Min-hyuk-Seo Seung-jae (Kor) bt Mohd Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan (Ina) 21-13, 19-21, 21-11; Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto (Ina) bt Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (Mas) 14-21, 21-16, 21-17; Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty (Ind) bt Liu Yu Chen-Ou Xuan Yi (Chn) 17-21, 22-20, 21-9; Liang Weikeng-Wang Chang (Chn) bt Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (Den) 22-2023-21.
Women’s singles: Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn) bt Mia Blichfeldt (Den) 21-12, 21-11; Chen Yufei (Chn) bt Carolina Marin (Spa) 21-18, 21-19; An Se-young (Kor) bt Wang Zhiyi (Chn) 21-17, 16-21, 21-19; Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe) bt Hsu Wen-chi (Tpe) 21-6, 21-8.
Women’s doubles: Apriyani Rahayu-Siti Fadhia Ramadhanti (Ina) bt Kim So-yeong-Kong Hee-yong (Kor) 22-20, 21-15; Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan (Chn) bt Gabriela Stoeva-Stefani Stoeva (Bul) 21-17, 21-17; Baek Ha-na-Lee Yu-lim (Kor) bt Jin Yujia-Crystal Wong (Sin) 21-10, 21-6; Zhang Shu Xian-Zheng Yu (Chn) bt Li Wen Mei-Liu Xuan Xuan (Chn) 21-19, 21-19.
Mixed doubles: Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) bt Chen Tang Jie-Toh Ee Wei (Mas) 21-19, 21-9; Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino (Jpn) bt Seo Seung-jae-Chae Yu-jung (Kor) 21-17, 21-17; Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong (Chn) bt Thom Gicquel-Delphine Delrue (Fra) 21-15, 21-6; Dejan Ferdinansyah-Gloria Widjaja (Ina) bt Kim Won-ho-Jeong-Na-eun (Kor) 21-16, 21-19.