Get back to where you belong

PETALING JAYA: Mixed doubles coach Nova Widianto has called on top national pair Chen Tang Jie-Toh Ee Wei (pic) to fight their way back into the world’s top eight.

Tang Jie-Ee Wei moved up to No. 8 in the world rankings at the end of 2023, but a disappointing start to the year saw them slip one rung down to No. 9.

The pair suffered three straight second-round exits in the Malaysian Open, Indian Open and Indonesian Masters before steadying the ship by finishing runners-up in the Thailand Masters last month.

The duo, though, missed out on a seeding at the upcoming French Open (March 5-10) in Paris and All-England (March 12-17) in Birmingham and an easier draw in the early rounds as only the top eight pairs in the world will be seeded.

Tang Jie-Ee Wei will now have to do it the hard way to clear their early hurdles in the French tourney as they face teammates Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing in the opening round before a possible match-up against China’s world No. 4 Feng Yanzhe-Huang Dongping next.

In the All-England, the pair face a tough task in the first round against Thailand’s 2021 world champions Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai.

“Tang Jie-Ee Wei would have been back in the top eight if they had won the Thailand Masters title,” said Nova, after overseeing a training session at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara yesterday.

“They did not start well this year but showed good improvement in Thailand.

“However, it was not enough for them to get back in the top eight and get a seeding for the European tournaments.

“Now, they have no choice but to be ready to face the top pairs from the start.

“It won’t be easy but if they can raise their performance like they did in Thailand, they can move up the rankings again,” added Nova.

Nova stressed that Tang Jie-Ee Wei need to stay patient in the rallies when playing against the likes of Dechapol-Sapsiree.

The Thai pair had denied the Malaysians the title in Bangkok.

“Tang Jie-Ee Wei need to play a patient game against top pairs like Dechapol-Sapsiree, especially when the shuttle is slow,” said Nova.

“They need to be resilient and wait for opportunities to win points.

“It’s also important for them to be confident and mentally strong when playing against these pairs.”

Tang Jie-Ee Wei remain on track to qualify for the Paris Olympics in July.

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