JOHOR BARU: The early rounds in the men’s singles of the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold championships at the Bandaraya Stadium here yesterday saw the exit of several fancied players.
Chinese youngster Chen Long lived up to his name of “dragon” and pulled off the biggest upset of the day by dumping second seed Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia, winning the first-round match 21-14, 20-22, 21-19.
The world No. 65 went on to beat Malaysian Pei Wee Chung 21-10, 21-10 and will play against India’s Arvind Bhat today for a place in the quarter-finals.
Yesterday, the former world junior champion gave a fiery performance to send Taufik packing. And having claimed a prized scalp, Chen Long declared that he would go all out to nail the title.
“I won the Asian junior title in Malaysia (2007). And now I want to win my first international Open title here,” said the 21-year-old Chen Long.
“The win over Taufik has given me a lot of confidence. There is a good chance for me to achieve my career breakthrough here.”
Chen Long was not the only unseeded player who came into the limelight yesterday.
Malaysian youngster Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin also nailed his biggest career win, eliminating third seed Chetan Anand of India with a hard-fought 21-16, 18-21, 21-17 win.
“I have beaten a world No. 15 for the first time. I am happy to achieve this in Johor Baru where I spend most of my childhood days,” said Iskandar.
But Iskandar ran out of steam in the second round, losing 13-21, 20-22 to unheralded Ajay Jayaram of India.
Two other Malaysians, Tan Chun Seang and former international Yeoh Kay Bin, also got the better of seeded players. Chun Seang beat 12th seeded P. Kashyap of India and Kay Bin ousted seventh seed Andrew Smith of England to set up a third-round match against each other.
The other big winners yesterday were Hong Kong’s Hu Yun and Denmark’s Christian Lind Thomsen, who humiliated Hashim brothers Hafiz and Roslin respectively in the opening round.
China-born Hu Yun continued his fine run with a 21-18, 21-14 win over Liew Daren but Thomsen crashed to a 18-21, 19-21 defeat by Indonesian Andre Kurniawan Tedjono.
Among the other seeded players who took early showers yesterday were Malaysian Sairul Amar Ayob (10th), Carl Baxter of England (15th) and Anup Sridhar of India (16th).
Favourite Lee Chong Wei marched into the third round with convincing straight-game wins over Derek Wong of Singapore and compatriot Lim Fang Yang. He will take on Zhou Wenlong today and is bracing himself for a tough fight from the Chinese youngster.
“This is my third consecutive Open tournament but I am not feeling the strain. I am physically fit to go all the way to win another title here,” said the world number one.