PETALING JAYA: Lady Luck might not be smiling on the Malaysian shuttlers in the China Masters but national coaching director Rexy Mainaky wants the players to make the best of the tough hand dealt to them.
In a twist of fate, the country’s top two men’s singles and doubles pairs will face each other as early as the opening round in Shenzhen today.
World No. 11 Lee Zii Jia needs to beat world No. 15 Ng Tze Yong to progress while Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (No. 2) will cross swords with Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (No. 12).
“It’s bad luck for Malaysia to have our best players in the men’s singles and doubles playing each other in the first round,” said Rexy.
“But the players need to fight hard on court and try to make it to the second round. May the best players on the day win.”
Both Zii Jia and Tze Yong will be playing in their last tournament of the year.
Both are set to miss out on the season ending World Tour Finals from Dec 13-17 in Hangzhou unless they go all the way to win the title and hoping others in line suffer early defeat. Zii Jia is in the 11th spot while Tze Yong is occupying the eighth spot in the Race to Finals rankings.
The top eight will usually make the cut but Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn, who is in ninth spot will qualify after capturing the World Championships title in August.
Tze Yong will be out to make up for the disappointment in the China tourney but has never beaten Zii Jia before.
Zii Jia came out on top in both the duo’s previous encounters at the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in August and the Arctic Open final last month.
The winner of the match will take on either Indonesia’s French Open champion Jonatan Christie or homester Lu Guangzu in the second round.
The competition is set to be without the top seed after Denmark’s recently crowned Japan Masters champion Viktor Axelsen pulled out due to a leg issue.
Meanwhile, Aaron-Wooi Yik will start as favourites against Yew Sin-Ee Yi, having beaten the latter five times in their past seven meetings including twice this year at the China Open in September and Indian Open in January.
Yew Sin-Ee Yi’s last victory over Aaron-Wooi Yik was in the 2021 Indonesian Open.
It will not get any easier for the winner of the match this time as homesters and recently crowned Japan Masters champions He Jiting-Ren Xiangyu of China or their teammates Tan Qiang-Zhou Haodong await next.
The other Malaysian representatives in the men’s doubles are Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani and Man Wei Chong-Tee Kai Wun, who will open their campaigns against Japan’s Akira Koga-Taichi Saito and South Korea’s Jin Yong-Na Sung-seung respectively.