Malaysian shuttlers sail smoothly on opening day


By LIM TEIK HUAT

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia's top guns had little trouble on the opening day of the All-England badminton championships at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham yesterday but it was a disastrous outing for Indonesia as three of their best players fell by the wayside. 

Malaysia's only casualty was newly crowned national champion Lee Chong Wei. He lost in straight games to Hong Kong veteran Ng Wei. 

However, it was nothing compared to the disappointment in the Indonesian camp. 

First, world champion . Hendrawan could not even qualify for the tournament proper.  

The Indonesian, who is now ranked 80th in the world, began his bid for a place in the main draw with a 15-10, 13-15, 15-6 win over Magnus Repsgard of Sweden in a 50-minute contest.  

But he looked a shadow of his former self in his next match, losing to Yohan Wiratama of Hong Kong 13-15, 15-12, 7-15 in 81 minutes and failing to make the cut for the main draw. 

Two-time All-England finalist Taufik Hidayat then suffered one of his worst defeats in international competition when he lost in straight games to former compatriot Dicky Palyama, who now plays for Holland. 

Dicky handed the fifth seeded Taufik a shock 15-11, 15-9 defeat to set up a meeting with Malaysia's Lee Tsuen Seng, 15-5, 15-7 winner over Spain's Arturo Ruiz. 

Finally, it was Asian champion Sony Dwi Kuncoro's turn to bite the dust when he fell at the hands of Malaysia's Mohamed Hafiz Hashim. 

The Commonwealth Games champion secured an upset victory when he beat 13th seed Sony 15-11, 15-8 in 61 minutes. 

Hendrawan, whose form had dipped of later, was disappointed. “I am a little annoyed that I am having to qualify but I understand the ranking system so I accept the decision,” he said. 

Chong Wei had gone into the tournament hoping to make a memorable All-England debut. But his plans all came unstuck when he was sent packing in the first round of the competition. 

The 21-year-old Malaysian lost 10-15, 8-15 to Hong Kong veteran Ng Wei. 

Chong Wei, who toiled for nearly an hour before conceding defeat, said later that his defeat was due to first time jitters. 

“I was a bit nervous with myself. This was the first time I played in an international tournament in Europe. 

“Now, I'll just hope to make amends and do better when I compete in the Swiss Open next week,” said Chong Wei who had also lost in the first round in the South Korean and Japan Open last year. 

But Wong Choong Hann and company restored Malaysia's pride as they secured easy victories. 

Second seed Choong Hann, the China Open champion, brushed aside German player Jans Roch 15-10, 15-5 in 37 minutes to set up an all-Malaysian second round clash with Yong Hock Kin. 

Former All-England semi-finalist Hock Kin had no problem in advancing. He beat England's Andrew Smith 15-5, 15-1. 

Tsuen Seng and former world number one Roslin, who overcame Sweden's George Rimarcdi 15-11, 15-6, completed the Malaysian cast in the next round. 

Meanwhile, top men's doubles pair Chang Chong Ming-Chew Choong Eng will only see action in the second round today.  

The second seeded Malaysian pair received a bye in the opening round and will open their campaign against Russians Evgenij Isakov-Andrej Zholobov. 

MEN’S SINGLES 

First round: Lee Chong Wei lost to Ng Wei (HK) 10-15, 8-15; Lee Tsuen Seng bt Dicky Palyama (Hol) 15-5, 15-7; Roslin Hashim bt George Rimarcdi (Swe) 15-11, 15-6; Mohd Hafiz Hashim bt Sony Dwi Kuncoro (Ina) 15-11, 15-8; Yong Hock Kin bt Andrew Smith (Eng) 15-5, 15-1; Wong Choong Hann bt Jens Roch (Ger) 15-10, 15-5. 

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