Tze Yong retires injured as Malaysian men’s singles challenge fizzles out

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KUALA LUMPUR: What a bummer.

Malaysia’s interest in men’s singles came to an end after Ng Tze Yong (pix) was forced to concede a walkover when trailing 8-12 to Japan’s Koki Watanabe in the first game of their first-round match in the 2024 Malaysia Open badminton championships at the Axiata Arena here today.

Tze Yong suffered a suspected back injury when, with the score level at 7-all, he leapt to execute a smash to make it 8-7.

Immediately after that, the world number 15 could barely move and was unable to return shots from Watanabe, forcing him to eventually “call it a day” when trailing 8-12.

Tze Yong admitted that he was in so much pain before conceding a walkover and suspects that he may have sustained a back injury.

“Yes, (suffered a) back injury when executing the smash. I felt stiff and could not move. Didn’t feel anything before the match, but it is so painful even now,” he said, adding that he is frustrated at kicking off his season opener in such a disappointing manner and in front of the home fans.

This is Tze Yong’s third straight early exit at the Malaysia Open, having lost 21-19, 19-21, 15-21 to Japan’s Kodai Naraoka in the second round last year and 16-21, 23-21, 18-21 to China’s Lu Guang Zu in the opening round in 2022.

Watanabe will meet Denmark’s Anders Antonsen in the second round after the Dane defeated India’s H.S. Prannoy 21-14, 21-11 in the opening round.

Yesterday, another Malaysian singles shuttler, Lee Zii Jia crashed out in the first round after losing 21-16, 19-21, 15-21 to Guang Zu.

Meanwhile, second seeds Baek Ha Na-Lee So Hee of South Korea proved too strong for Anna Ching Yik Cheong-Teoh Mei Xing as the Malaysians went down 14-21, 13-21 in women’s doubles.

Anna attributed their defeat to the South Korean’s intelligent and quick reading of the game.

Meanwhile, national men’s doubles pair Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani advanced into the second round with a 21-17, 22-20 win over Supak Jomkoh-Kittinupong Kedren of Thailand.

Sze Fei admitted that their decision to slow down the pace in the middle of the second game allowed their opponents to rake in the points.

He said they, however, managed to regain their composure to seal the victory and set up a possible all-Malaysian second-round match against compatriots Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, provided the 2022 world champions can get the job done against Denmark’s Rasmus Kjaer-Frederik Sogaard later today. –Bernama

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