Malaysia suffered a shock loss to Chinese Taipei, while Thailand snuck past Hong Kong China on the opening evening of the Li-Ning BWF Sudirman Cup.
In other ties, Sweden beat USA 3-2 (Level 2 Group A), Australia beat Lithuania 5-1 and Vietnam blanked Kazakhstan 5-0 (both Level 3 Group B).
The anticipated battles were the Level 1 matches in Group C (Malaysia vs Chinese Taipei) and Group B (Thailand vs Hong Kong). Chinese Taipei’s upset over hosts Malaysia was orchestrated by the Men’s Doubles duo of Lee Sheng Mu/Tsai Chia Hsin, who at No. 26 were ranked way below their Malaysian opponents Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong (world No. 3). The Taipei pair overcame the massive gulf in rankings, dismissing Koo/Tan in straight games, 21-18 21-18.
That set the stage for No. 9 Tai Tzu Ying (featured image) and she duly disposed of Sonia Cheah’s challenge in Women’s Singles 21-7 21-13, leaving the hosts trailing 0-2 in the tie.
World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei pulled back a point for Malaysia, taking just 24 minutes to beat Yang Chih Hsun 21-8 21-13. The Malaysians needed their Women’s Doubles team of Vivian Hoo/Woon Khe Wei to keep them alive but the women fell to Cheng Wen Hsing/Hsieh Pei Chen 21-17 21-19. In the last rubber (Mixed Doubles), Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying salvaged another point for Malaysia with a 25-23 21-11 win over Lu Ching Yao/Lai Chia Wen.
Thailand’s 3-2 victory over Hong Kong China was even tighter. The Thais went 2-0 ahead thanks to Maneepong Jongjit/Nipitphon Puangpuapech (Men’s Doubles) and Ratchanok Intanon (Women’s Singles). Thailand were close to sealing the tie in Men’s Singles – Boonsak Ponsana holding four match points over Hu Yun (below) – but his Hong Kong rival saved all four and amazingly claimed the match in 72 minutes.
Tse Ying Tsuet/Lok Yan Poon then won their Women’s Doubles match to make it 2-2 for Hong Kong. It was left to veterans Sudket Prapakamol/Saralee Thoungthongkam to ally Thai fears with a determined 22-20 22-20 triumph over Lee Chun Hei/Chau Hoi Wah in Mixed Doubles.
* For Li-Ning BWF Sudirman Cup 2013 schedule and results, click here.