Photo credit: Badmintonthaitoday.com
While the seeded entries struggled at Thailand Masters last week, things seem to be in favor of them this week. Malaysia Masters has reached the quarterfinals where we will see 28 seeded entries in action.
One big favorite did however have an early exit in men’s single. It was top seeded Kento Momota who failed to surpass his compatriot Kenta Nishimoto in first round. Nishimoto won with 22-20 in third game. Another unexpected early exit was in women’s single where Akane Yamaguchi (3) lost in straight games to local Goh Jin Wei.
In women’s double there was a drama when the 7-seeded Thai duo Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai lost by 25-27 in third game to Della Destiara Haris and Virni Putri from Indonesia. A few more seeded entries are out from Malaysia as well but overall there is an overload of seeded entries in the quarterfinals.
Local spectators more than pleased
One of the potential second round matches we were looking most forward to was in men’s double. And since both pairs managed to win their first rounds, local heroes Goh V. Shem and Tan Wee Kiong had the pleasure of a close match against the experienced Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan (6). The Indonesians have lately seen quite a revival after playing some time with other partners.
And what a match this was! Ahsan and Setiawan had won all previous four encounters against the Malaysians but this time Goh and Tan came on the scoreboard. In 32 minutes the two had won an amazingly close match by 21-29 24-22 and the local spectators were of course more than pleased.
Malaysian success on home soil
Pleased were they also when they saw Goh Jin Wei continuing her journey towards success on home soil. The young Malaysian qualified to the quarterfinal with another straight game win, this time over Zhang Yiman.
As a matter of fact Thursday was an extremely successful day for the local shuttlers. Malaysia had 10 entries in the matches on Thursday and only two suffered a defeat. That makes the host nation the second-most represented nation in the quarterfinals. Japan has nine entries, Malaysia has eight.
Seen with Malaysian eyes, the mixed double quarterfinal between Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying (3) and Goh Soon Huat/Lai Shevon Jemie (5) is probably the most interesting match on Friday. The two pairs only met once before where Chan and Goh won with a two times two point’s margin.
For the Danes, who are currently on their own due to the ongoing conflict in their home country, there was also a very interesting battle in second round. Viktor Axelsen and Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus faced each other and it was a match that was decided in straight games. Things were close though; Axelsen drew the longest straw with 21-18 21-19.
Friday Axelsen will be up against the local surprise, if we may say so; Lee Zii Jia who ranks 37 in the world started in the qualification this week. After successfully entering the main draw he eliminated Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk in first round and Kenta Nishimoto in second. It was Nishimoto who defeated Kento Momota and we don’t think many people expected to see Lee in the quarterfinal instead of the world number one.
There are several interesting quarterfinals waiting for us now. As mentioned, there is an overload of seeded players in Friday’s matches. Four top seeded and all five second seeded entries are still in the tournament. There are also four third seeded and five fourth seeded entries. Plus all the others…
Two of the technically best players are facing each other in women’s single; Malaysia Masters presents the 23rd encounter between Tai Tzu Ying (1) and Ratchanok Intanon (6). Saina Nehwal (7) and Nozomi Okuhara (2) have also played many times; they face each other again in what is their 13th battle.
Finally we will witness something we don’t see much in quarterfinals in Asia. One of the mixed double quarterfinals will be a European battle between Robin Tabeling/Selena Piek and Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock.