The Star Online > Sports
Thursday March 10, 2005
Malaysia's top three clear the first hurdle

BIRMINGHAM: Malaysia's three leading men's singles players – Wong Choong Hann, Lee Chong Wei and Mohd Hafiz Hashim – overcame jittery performances to clear the first round of the All-England badminton championships but it was the end of the road for Lee Tsuen Seng at the National Indoor Arena here yesterday.

The 25-year-old Tsuen Seng had been given little chance against second seed Peter Gade-Christensen in the opening round but went down fighting 8-15, 12-15 to the lanky Dane.

Malaysia’s best bet Chong Wei lived dangerously against New Zealand 's John Moody for a 15-5, 15-13 win in 33 minutes. He will now take on Kendrick Lee of Singapore in the second round.

Chong Wei, however, cannot afford to take the match lightly. The Malaysian had lost to the Singaporean youngster in the semi-finals of the Malaysian Satellite in 2003.

Choong Hann also needed three games and deuce to get the better of South Korea's fourth ranked player Jang Young-soo, winning 15-7, 2-15, 17-15 after a 77-minute battle. Choong Hann has another tough task in the next round against Chen Yu of China.

Chen Yu had beaten Olympic Games quarter-finalist Ronald Susilo of Singapore in the first round.

Hafiz, meanwhile, shrugged off a slow start to beat Norwegian Jim Ronney Andersen 15-9, 15-2 in 30 minutes to set up a meeting with Germany's March Zwiebler.

After losing in the first round to Anders Boesen of Denmark in the first round of the German Open last week, Kuan Beng Hong went one step better by entering the second round with a 15-10, 15-10 win over Germany's Roman Spitko.

But he will face a daunting task in the second round as he will once again play Boesen. The 12th seeded Dane outclassed England's Nathan Rice 15-5, 15-4 yesterday.

Veteran Mohd Roslin Hashim took a longer time to get adjusted in his opening game and scrambled from a 1-7 deficit to beat Holland's Eric Pang 15-12, 15-4.

National discard Sairul Amar Ayob is also through to the second round after a hard-fought 15-17, 15-10, 15-10 win ogver Denmark's Jens-Kristian Leth.

There were several major upsets on the first day of the US$125,000 tournament.

Third seed and world champion Xia Xuanze of China was sent packing 9-15, 11-15 by South Korean Lee Hyun-il.

It was also a first round disappointment for 11th seed Bjoern Joppien of Germany and Thailand's top shuttler Boonsak Ponsana.

Joppien was tamed 5-15, 10-15 by South Korean newcomer Ahn Hyun-suk while Boonsak was eliminated 3-15, 9-15 by Japanese Shoji Sato.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's sole woman representative Wong Mew Choo dropped only two points against Estonian Kati Tolmoff 11-1, 11-1 to set up a second round meeting with Taiwan's Cheng Shao-chieh.