National top athlete Nguyen Tien Minh had no difficulty in beating Hong Ji-hoon of the Republic of Korea in the first round of the Proton Malaysia Open Badminton Super Series in Kuala Lumpur on January 7.
Minh, the world No 17 seed needed only 36 minutes to win 21-9, 21-16 over Hong who was the second winner from the qualifying round.
However, Minh, Vietnam’s first Olympic badminton player will find it difficult when he meets world No. 1 seed, Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, in the second round on January 8.
Lee has been champion for four years. Minh is not expected to beat him, but it is hoped that he can at least win one set.
Last April, the Vietnamese won sets against former world No. 1, Lin Dan of China, at the Yonex-Sunrise Badminton Asian Championship.
Minh teammate on the women’s side, Beijing Olympian Le Ngoc Nguyen Nhung, lost to Julia Pei Xian Wong in the first round despite an all-out effort.
On Nhung’s return to international tournament on January 7, the world’s No 21 seed beat her 21-17, 21-16.
Although this US$200,000 event began in 1937, there were no competitions between the years 1942 and 1946, and then from 1967 to 1982, there was another break in tradition. Over the years, the Malaysia Open has become one of the most popular tournaments on the circuit.
This year, the tournament undergoes another transition with its inclusion in the Badminton World Federation’s Super Series. The federation introduced the series to elevate the game and draw bigger crowds.(VNA)