By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: After the high of winning the China Open title on Sunday, top Malaysian women's shuttler Wong Mew Choo was brought down to earth yesterday.
Thailand's Salakjit Ponsana sent her packing in rubber games in the first round of the Hong Kong Open at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium. The eighth seeded Malaysian won the first game 21-16 but went on to lose 21-7, 21-10 in 45 minutes.
The 24-year-old Mew Choo enjoyed an incredible run in Guangzhou last week, beating three top Chinese players – world champion Zhu Lin, Olympic champion Zhang Ning and world number one Xie Xingfang – en route to claiming the China Open crown.
The supreme efforts must have taken its toll on the injury-prone shuttler and chief coach Yap Kim Hock did not want to read too much into her defeat by Salakjit, who is ranked 36th in the world.
''Mew Choo has improved a lot over the last few months and she has no problem taking on the top players. But she has to learn how to handle the pressure when playing against lower ranked players,'' said Kim Hock in a telephone interview.
''Mew Choo wanted to play in the Hong Kong Open because she wanted to earn some ranking points (for Olympic qualification).''
But the early exit could cost Mew Choo a place in the Super Series Masters Finals, which will be held next year. Only the top eight in the Series standings qualify and Mew Choo is now in seventh spot.
Veteran Malaysian singles player Wong Choong Hann was another first-round casualty yesterday, losing 14-21, 14-21 to top Dane Peter-Gade Christensen.
He has now failed to get past the first round hurdle in his last three outings in the Super Series. He also exited early in France and Japan.
The Hashim brothers, Hafiz and Roslin, advanced to the second round.
Hafiz beat Indonesian Simon Santoso 21-15, 21-17 and will play against Danish veteran Kenneth Jonassen for a place in the quarter-finals. Roslin carved out a 21-15, 21-13 win over South Korean Lee Hyun-il.
World number two Lee Chong Wei beat team-mate Kuan Beng Hong 21-13, 21-11 and will play against KLRC Bhd's Lee Tsuen Seng for a place in the last eight. Tsuen Seng defeated Chinese qualifier Zhu Weilun 21-19, 21-13.
Yeoh Kay Bin slogged for a 22-20, 25-23 win over China's Lu Yi and will be up against Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuncoro.
In the men's doubles, Tan Bin Shen-Ong Soon Hock edged Danish pair of Simon Mollyhus-Anders Kristiansen 21-19, 19-21, 21-18.
But veterans Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah bowed out on a sad note with the latter coming down with a knee injury just before resuming the second game, forcing them to concede defeat against former world champions Jonas Rasmussen-Lars Passke. They lost the first game 16-21.
Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Latif failed to score a second consecutive victory over China’s top pair Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun. The Malaysians, who were winners in the China Open last week, were beaten 21-19, 20-22, 16-21,