ALOR SETAR: For decades, Malaysia have been searching for a mixed doubles pair to mount consistently strong challenges on the international stage.
And they may have found one in Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying.
The duo showed plenty of promise en route to a runners-up finish to Indonesia’s Tantowi Ahmad-Lilyana Natsir in the just concluded Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold.
They defeated world No. 2 Sudket Prapakamol-T. Saralee of Thailand and chalked up their first victory in five meetings against Indonesians Fran Kurniawan-Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth.
One of the more notable improvements in their game is Liu Ying’s front-court dominance. This is set to take her partnership with Peng Soon to a higher level and it is acknowledged by Lilyana, who has a world championship mixed doubles title to her name.
“The lady player (Liu Ying) has improved. Her technique at the front court is much better now. And I guess this has given the pair a lot of confidence. They will be a pair to watch out for,” she said.
Peng Soon-Liu Ying became the first Malaysian pair to win the Asian championship (ABC) title in India last year and since then, they have been quite consistent with their performances. Both are currently in the Road to London programme and hopes are high that they will be among the medal contenders at the Olympic Games next year.
They have three big tests ahead this year – the Sudirman Cup (Qingdao, May 22-29), world championships (London, Aug 8-14) and the SEA Games (Jakarta, November).
National coach Jeremy Gan said that Peng Soon-Liu Ying had bridged the gap as the chasing pack but were still a step behind the formidable China pairs.
“Their performances at the GP Gold showed that they are of the same standard as the top pairs from Indonesia, Thailand and even South Korea. But China are still a class above the rest. I want to gauge their performances against China. The Sudirman Cup will be the next big event for them and it will be a good platform to test them,” said Jeremy.
“Overall, they are on the right track but they do lack stability in their game. They will only get better with more exposure and quality matches against the other top pairs.”
Jeremy also hoped that the second pair and world championship-bound Ong Jian Guo-Sabrina Chong would also show better mental strength to enjoy breakthroughs on the international stage.