By RAJES PAUL and LIM TEIK HUAT
JIBES and boos from the home fans did not send world number one Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong crashing to an embarrassing first-round defeat in the Malaysian Open at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
The top seeded pair started the tournament as the defending champions for the first time and they had to stage a strong fightback from a game down to beat third ranked Indonesians Hendra Gunawan-Joko Riyadi 14-21, 21-17, 21-15.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong had stared at the exit when they trailed 11-15 in the rubber game. But they got their act back together and went on to seal the match without dropping a point. In fact, the taunting from the fans when they trailed the Indonesians fuelled their fight for survival.
Kien Keat was not looking too pleased and said that the home fans' reactions did not help make things better.
“The Indonesian pair were making things difficult for us from the start and we had hoped for better support from our own fans,” he said.
Splendid start: Chan Chong Ming (right) and Chew Choon Eng celebrate their win over South Korea’s Hwang Ji-man-Lee Jae-jin in the first round of the Malaysian Open. – BERNAMA
And Kien Keat is hoping that things will get better for them in their match against former world champions Lars Paaske-Jonas Rasmussen of Denmark today.
“The feel was not there today. The first match is always the toughest but I am looking forward to the match against the Danes tomorrow. We beat them in the Indonesian Open last year and we hope to repeat it here,” he said.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong struggled yesterday but there were also positive signs of them kicking into gear. They were supportive and took turns encouraging each other when under pressure.
Said Boon Heong: “Even after losing the first game, our confidence did not drop. We coped well with the pressure today.”
Veterans Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah kept alive a possible quarter-final showdown against Kien Keat-Boon Heong with an easy 21-10, 21-11 win over team-mates Tan Wee Kiong-Hoon Thien How. The winners of the Open in 2004 will play against another fellow Malaysian pair, Tan Bin Shen-Ong Soon Hock, in the second round today.
Bin Shen-Soon Hock laboured for a 17-21, 25-23, 22-20 win over Albertus Susanto Njoto-Yohan Hadikusumo Wiratama of Hong Kong yesterday.
Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng continued to stay on the winning track in their reunion since splitting after the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The former national number one came through from the qualifying tournament and upset eighth seeds Hwang Ji-man-Lee Jae-jin of South Korea, winning 13-21, 21-18, 21-10. They will play against Taiwan's Tsai Chia-hsin-Hu Chung-shien today for a place in the quarter-finals.
Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Latif, ranked 16th in the world, kept alive their hopes to earn Olympic qualification with a comeback 10-21, 21-13, 21-12 win over Indonesian pair Luluk Hadiyanto-Alvent Chandra Yulianto. Fairuzizuan-Zakry will be up against the veteran Indonesian-American combination of Candra Wijaya-Tony Gunawan next.
But it was the end of the road for Gan Teik Chai-Lin Woon Fui. The pair lost their opening match 16-21, 11-21 to World Championships runners-up Lee Yong-dae-Jung Jae-sung of South Korea.
In the women's doubles, Malaysia's challenge have been reduced to only two pairs - Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty and Fong Chew Yen-Mooi Hing Yau.