The Men’s Singles draw at the Perodua Malaysia Masters 2018 reeled with the exit of many of its biggest names, on an unusual day at the Axiata Arena today.
The biggest casualty was home superstar Lee Chong Wei, who joined fellow-seeds Lin Dan, Chen Long, Son Wan Ho and Chou Tien Chen on the sidelines of the Super 500 event.
Lee suffered an agonising early exit at his home event, beaten in three tight games by Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto, 19-21 21-18 21-19. That came after Chen Long’s 21-17 21-15 loss to Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting and Lin Dan’s 21-16 18-21 21-17 loss to another Indonesian, Ihsan Maulana Mustofa.
Both Lee and Lin would rue their missed chances. Lee blew an 18-16 lead in the second with Nishimoto (featured image) having virtually gifted him three straight points; the Malaysian was unable to capitalise and let his opponent right back in with inconsistent play.
Lin’s was a similar story; the Chinese great appeared well on course for his second round as he moved his opponent around and placed the shuttle where he willed. At 14-11 in the third everything was going his way, but then he missed a routine forehand, misjudged a shot at the sideline, and despite trying to push the pace at the end, found Mustofa a tough nut to crack.
“I took it a bit too easy when I had the lead,” admitted Lin. “I made the mistake of relaxing too early. I tried to get back but my opponent played some high quality shots towards the end.”
Fourth seed Son Wan Ho (Korea) fell to Malaysian qualifier Liew Daren, while sixth seed Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei) came up short against young Indonesian Jonatan Christie.
Despite the carnage all around, World champion Viktor Axelsen refused to be distracted and duly completed his first win over Lee Hyun Il. The Korean, having beaten the Dane in all three of their previous meetings, got off to a great start with his brand of precise and controlled badminton, but Axelsen broke free early in the second and Lee struggled to match his pace and attack. The Dane’s 18-21 21-14 21-5 victory gave him a second round against India’s Sai Praneeth, who beat Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen in straight games.
In contrast to Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles saw few upsets. Top seed Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei) shrugged off a slow start to ease past Malaysia’s Soniia Cheah 18-21 21-12 21-12.
Second seed Akane Yamaguchi (Japan) ran into spirited resistance from another Malaysian, Lim Yin Fun, but reasserted herself in the third game and marched ahead, 21-18 17-21 21-12. Others to make the second round included fourth seed Carolina Marin (Spain), fifth seed Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand) and eighth seed Chen Yufei (China).
The notable casualty was Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun, who fell 21-15 21-13 to Japan’s Aya Ohori.
Tai’s second round opponent will be Canadian Michelle Li, who fought past Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan in an hour-long battle, 21-18 16-21 21-13.
It was a good day for Indonesia in Men’s Doubles, with Berry Angriawan/Hardianto and Fajar Alfian/Muhammad Rian Ardianto progressing into the second round.
Yonex French Open champions Lee Jhe-Huei/Lee Yang (Chinese Taipei) stumbled at the opening hurdle to Thailand’s Kittinupong Kedren/Dechapol Puavaranukroh, 11-21 21-18 21-16. Two of their compatriots however made it to the second round – Liao Min Chun/Su Ching Heng and Chen Hung-Ling/Wang Chi-Lin.
There were no surprises in Women’s Doubles, with top seeds Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan (China) and Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Japan) leading the way. But for one match, the rest were decided in straight games.
India’s Ashwini Ponnappa/Sikki Reddy, who eased past Germany’s Johanna Goliszewski/Lara Kaepplein, have a difficult task on hand as they take on Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl.