Thursday, April 15, 2010

TheStar Badminton news: Hafiz struggles to reach the third round

PETALING JAYA: Singles shuttler Mohd Hafiz Hashim made it to the third round of the Asian Badminton Championships (ABC) yesterday but it was all over for the other Malay­sian Thomas Cup trainees as they lost to the rising Japanese stars in New Delhi yesterday.

However, it was not a walk in the park for Hafiz. The 10th seeded Hafiz had to dig deep into his reserves to chalk up rubber-game victories over Thailand’s Pakkawat Vilaivak and South Korean Choi Ho-jin. He defeated Pakkawat 19-21, 21-9, 21-16 in 41 minutes and slogged for a 21-11, 19-21, 21-11 win over Ho-jin in 45 minutes.

Hafiz will take on Vietnam’s Ngu­yen Tien Minh and it will be tough for him to advance if he continues with his jittery form.

Lok Chong Chieh also made it to the third round and he will be hoping he won’t be the second Malaysian victim of China’s Wang Zhengming, who defeated Chan Kwong Beng 23-21, 21-9 in the opening round.
It was a disappointing opening day for Thomas Cup trainees Tan Chun Seang, Chong Wei Feng and Kuan Beng Hong.

Chun Seang fell to a 20-22, 19-21 defeat by Kazushi Yamada while All-England runner-up Kenich Tago beat Wei Feng in the first round and then went on to eliminate Beng Hong.

Coach Hendrawan, who is not with his charges in New Delhi, agreed that the Japanese singles players have grown in strength to become more consistent in their game.

“Japan now have more stable singles players and Malaysia cannot take them lightly in the Thomas Cup Finals next month (Malaysia and Japan have been drawn in Group B together with Nigeria),” said Hendrawan.
“The return of Shoji Sato is also ex­­pected to add more depth to their team. He was Japan’s top singles shuttler but left the team some time ago. He returned as a doubles player and now he is playing singles again. He could be dangerous in third singles.”

Yesterday, Sato also made it to the third round of the ABC.

It was a good day for the Malay­sian women’s singles players with Wong Mew Choo, Julia Wong and Lydia Cheah all winning their first-round matches.


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