EXPERIENCE, or in the case of Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, the lack of it, was the Malaysian pairs undoing in the Japan Open badminton Championships when they went down tamely to Olympic champions Candra Wijaya-Tony Gunawan in the mens doubles final at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo yesterday.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong, competing in their first international grand prix event, started well but Indonesian Candra and Tony, now representing the United States, turned on the power to secure a convincing 21-15, 21-14 win in just 23 minutes.
The 19-year-old Boon Heong, replacing the bereaving Chan Chong Ming, appeared to be overawed by the occasion and failed to fully support Kien Keat.
Chong Ming, who remains with his family following his fathers recent death, will resume his partnership with Kien Keat in the China Open, which begins in Guangzhou on Wednesday. Boon Heong will partner Hoon Thien How.
However, talk about Kien Keat-Boon Heong being a top pair for the future was fully warranted and they should show progress once they start partnering each other after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Candra-Tony made a slow start and trailed 8-10 in the first game but once they found their rhythm, Kien Keat-Boon Heong were in trouble. The Indonesian pair have won every title on offer before splitting up after winning the 2000 Sydney Olympics gold with Tony heading for the US and Candra staying on in Indonesia. It was only in June that they decided to team up again and their progress has been remarkable.
They won the Indonesian Open, their very first outing on teaming up again, and the Korean Open before losing in the quarter-finals of the Hong Kong Open to world champions Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun of China.
But they gained sweet revenge when they turned the tables in the semi-finals in Tokyo.
Candra-Tony received US,960 (RM47,710) while Kien Keat-Boon Heong took home US,200 (RM26,500).
The mens singles title went to Chinas World No 1 and world champion Lin Dan who beat Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia 16-21, 21-16, 21-3 in 49 minutes for his second Japan Open title.
Taufik dominated the first game but the cool Lin Dan came back strongly in the second before the Indonesian, who was a spent force, threw in the towel in the decider.
Lin Dan pocketed US,400 (RM53,012) for his effort while Taufik settled for US,200 (RM26,500).
The womens singles final went down to the wire with Zhang Ning of China beating compatriot Xie Xingfang 21-11, 16-21, 30-29 in a marathon match that lasted 75 minutes.
Results (All finals) Mens singles: Lin Dan (Chn) bt Taufik Hidayat (Ina) 16-21, 21-16, 21-3.
Doubles: Candra Wijaya (Ina)-Tony Gunawan (US) bt Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong (Mas) 21-15, 21-14.
Womens singles: Zhang Ning (Chn) bt Xie Xingfang (Chn) 21-11, 16-21, 30-29.
Doubles: Gao Ling-Huang Sui (Chn) bt Wei Yili-Zhang Yawen (Chn) 21-15, 21-17.
Mixed doubles: Flandy Limpele-Vita Marissa (Ina) bt Nova Widianto-Lilyana Natsir (Ina) 11-21, 21-18, 21-17. (source: News Straits Times)