Jun Hao faces China hurdles in bid to enjoy an error-free run at Axiata Arena

PETALING JAYA: National men’s singles shuttler Leong Jun Hao (pic) hopes to avoid making mistakes again when he gets into action in the Malaysian Masters starting tomorrow at the Axiata Arena.

The 24-year-old was knocked out in the second round of the Thailand Open last Thursday after a close battle with world champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand, losing the match 22-20, 14-21, 21-23 in Bangkok.

Jun Hao said errors at crucial points cost him the match against Kunlavut last week.

“Last week was tough in Bangkok and I made mistakes at important points that cost me the game,” he said.

“But I’m hoping that my luck turns around to my favour here during the crucial points,” he said.

World No. 37 Jun Hao will be starting his campaign at the Super 500 tournament against China’s Lei Lanxi, who is ranked four places above him.

The two have only met once at the Korean Masters last year, as the close meeting ended up in Lanxi’s favour as he won the quarter-final fixture 21-14, 22-20 in October.

“He is a player who is coming up the ranks, it will be tough to play against him and I need to discuss with my coaches on how to approach it.”

If Jun Hao gets the better of Lanxi, he may meet world No. 6 Li Shifeng, who was a member of the team that won the recent Thomas Cup title, in the second round, provided the Chinese player wins against France’s Toma Popov.

This is Jun Hao’s third appearance in the Malaysian Masters. He suffered a first-round exit in 2022 and failed to clear the qualifying tournament last year.

Although the early exit from Bangkok has given Jun Hao additional time to rest between tournaments, the fatigue from back-to-back events is always draining for shuttlers.

“It is surely tiring, but we need to be ready for a busy schedule and overcome it,” said Jun Hao, while having an ice pack on his foot when met at the Axiata Arena yesterday.

The other singles players in the fray are world No. 10 and reigning Thailand Open champion Lee Zii Jia, Soong Joo Ven and Cheam June Wei.

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