THE relief was clearly written on shuttler Soh Wooi Yik’s face.
Wooi Yik, along with Aaron Chia, survived a gruelling battle against Taiwan’s Lu Ching-yao-Yang Po-han to advance to the second round of the men’s doubles competition in the Asian Games.
The world No. 5 pair had to save two match points in the third game to prevail 21-23, 21-12, 23-21 in a nail-biting opening round match at the Binjiang Gymnasium in Hangzhou yesterday.
The Malaysians had beaten the world No. 14 Taiwanese pair four times before but suffered a shock loss in their last meeting at the Australian Open in August.
Ching-yao-Po-han were obviously trying to repeat that victory and had Aaron-Wooi Yik under pressure from the start with their aggressive and faced attacks.
They won the first game narrowly, but the higher-ranked Malaysians stormed back to win the second game.
The third was neck-and-neck until Aaron-Wooi Yik pulled away to lead 17-14.
The persistent Taiwanese duo, however, refused to give in and clawed their way back to lead 20-19 and 21-20.
Aaron-Wooi Yik stayed ice cool under pressure to draw level both times before getting the two points they needed at 21-21.
“It was a really tough match,” admitted Aaron. “We knew it would not be easy against this Taiwanese pair.
“We went all out to get the win and perhaps luck favoured us a little.
‘‘We will stay focused for the next match.”
Aaron-Wooi Yik, Malaysia’s best bet to win a medal in badminton, next face Thailand’s world No. 36 Supak Jomkoh-Kittinupong Kedren for a place in the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, it was despair for independent pair Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi, who went down 16-21, 19-21 to another Taiwanese pair, reigning Olympic champions Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin.
It was world No. 9 Yew Sin-Ee Yi’s sixth defeat in their nine meetings.
There was good news in the mixed doubles, though, as both Chen Tang Jie-Toh Ee Wei and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie made it into second round.
Tang Jie-Ee Wei beat Singapore’s Andy Kwek-Crystal Wong 21-17, 21-13 to set up a second round meeting against India’s K. Sai Pratheek-Tanisha Crasto.
Soon Huat-Shevon on the other hand did not need to raise a sweat after their opponents – another Indian pair Rohan Kapoor-Sikki Reddy – conceded a walkover.
Sikki Reddy was understood to be carrying an injury. Soon Huat-Shevon will next play Thailand’s Supak and Supissara Paewsampran.