In what was billed as a battle between two veteran Malaysian mixed doubles pairs, Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai managed to pip compatriots Tan Kian Meng and Lai Pei Jing in the opening round of the Malaysia Open in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday (28 June).
Goh and Lai - winners at the 2018 Singapore and German Opens - took exactly one hour to defeat Tan and Lai 21-18, 19-21, 21-18 at the Axiata Arena, at one point coming back from 11-18 in the first game to 11 straight points to set them on their way to a thrilling win. They will next face South Korea's Kim Won Ho and Jeong Na Eun.
The unseeded duo had struggled for form this year, but their fortunes looked to be improving after they managed a stirring victory over the Thai world No.1 pair of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai at the Indonesia Open earlier this month.
In contrast, it was the second straight opening-round exit for seventh-seeded Tan and Lai, winners of the Korean Open in April. They had also lost in their first match at the Indonesia Open to Denmark's Mathias Christiansen and Alexandra Boje.
Both pairs had earlier voiced their unhappiness at being drawn together in the opening rounds of both the Malaysia Open and next week's Malaysia Masters.
“When we saw the draw, our hearts sank. It’s not good for us to meet our compatriots so early in both the home tournaments,” Shevon Lai told The Star.
“We want more Malaysian pairs to progress as far as possible. It’s cruel but we have no choice but to fight against each other.”
Goh and Lai were the only Malaysian mixed doubles pair to advance on Tuesday.
Choong Hon Jian and Peck Yen Wei fell to Hong Kong's Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet 18-21, 18-21, while Chan Peng Soon and Cheah Yee See lost to Indonesia's Rinov Rivaldy and Pitha Haningtyas Mentari 21-9, 12-21, 20-22.
Malaysia's top shuttler Lee Zii Jia will open his men's singles campaign against Ireland's Nhat Nguyen tomorrow.