Peng Soon-Liu Ying bags maiden international title

PETALING JAYA: The Bitburger Open in German is a minor tournament but winning it has given Malaysia’s mixed doubles specialists Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying a big boost in their pursuit of a place in the London Olympic Games next year.

On Sunday, the duo nailed their first international title of the year when they defeated third seeds Thomas Laybourn-Kamilla Rytter Juhl of Denmark with a hard-fought 21-18, 14-21, 27-25 decision in 73 minutes.

The result is expected to propel them three rungs into the top 12 in the world rankings and place them in a comfortable position for Olympic qualification. The top 16 are assured of their places when qualifying ends in May.

National coach Jeremy Gan was pleased that the duo had finally broken the duck this year.

Peng Soon-Liu Ying had been highly rated after they won the Asian Badminton Championships in April last year, but the duo have stumbled in major events since then.

“They lost in the final of the Malaysia Grand Prix Gold in July but this time they have nicked a title. Instead of choking, they played well for a strong finish,” said Jeremy yesterday.

“This should give them a lot of confidence. They are one of the pairs under the Road to London programme and are living up to their status.

“Peng Soon was troubled by a back problem during the World Championships at Wembley in August but has fully recovered.”

The duo will be heading for the Hong Kong Open next week but Jeremy is not ready to raise expectations just yet as far as their chances are concerned.

“Except for the pairs from China and South Korea, the standard is quite even among the top 16 pairs in the world. Usually, the matches among this pack go down the wire. Peng Soon-Liu Ying are improving and we hope that they will be more consistent.

“They have not won a Super Series title yet but I am not too worried. I would rather that they consistently beat the top 10 pairs in the world in the major events leading up to the Olympics.”

In Hong Kong, the duo have been drawn against seventh seeds Robert Mateusiak-Nadiezda Zieba of Poland. If they win, they may take on Denmark’s Joachim Nielsen Fischer-Christinna Pedersen in the thrid round. The world number three pair are on a roll - winning the back-to-back Denmark and French Opens recently.

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