Badminton: Rexy throws down gauntlet to title-hungry Aaron and Wooi Yik

PETALING JAYA: Rexy Mainaky has called on national men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik to end their World Tour title drought today.

Despite bagging an Olympic bronze medal and a SEA Games gold, the national No. 1 pair have surprisingly yet to taste success at that level.

Aaron-Wooi Yik have finished runners-up thrice – in the 2018 Saarlolux Open, 2019 All-England and 2021 Thailand Open.

And national doubles coaching director Rexy wants the duo to break their duck in the Asian Championships in Manila after they reached the final in style yesterday.

In a surprisingly one-sided semi-final, ninth ranked Aaron-Wooi Yik overcame high-flying teammates Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani 21-13, 21-15 in just 29 minutes.

“Aaron-Wooi Yik played very positively today. On the other hand, Sze Fei-Izzuddin’s performance was anti-climactic considering their good display in the earlier rounds, “said Rexy.

The Indonesian also said that this was Aaron-Wooi Yik’s best performance in the tournament so far.

“I hope they will capture the title today. Winning will boost their self-confidence, ”added Rexy.

Standing in their way are Indonesia’s Pramudya Kusumawardana-Yeremia Rambitan, who stunned their more illustrious compatriots Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto 22-20, 13-21, 21-18 in 51 minutes in the other semi-final match.

Aaron-Wooi Yik need to be wary of the Indonesian giant-killers who also took down the gold and bronze medallists at the world championships last year – Japan’s Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi and Malaysia’s independent pair Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi in the quarter -finals and second round respectively.

Meanwhile, men’s singles ace Lee Zii Jia will also be looking for his first title of the year when he takes on Indonesia’s Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie in the final today.

Zii Jia was in commanding form as he brushed aside the challenge of China’s rising star Weng Hongyang 21-11, 21-19 in 39 minutes.

The win was even more impressive as Hongyang had stunned another Indonesian, world No. 5 Anthony Ginting, in the quarter-finals.

The 81st ranked Chinese had also made heads turn when he emerged champion in the recent Korean Open after upsetting none other than Christie in the final.

Hongyang’s good form had earned him a place in China’s Thomas Cup team this year.

Zii Jia’s coach Indra Wijaya was pleased with his charge’s form but wants him to maintain his concentration in the final.

“So far I am happy with Zii Jia’s performances but we need to focus on the next match. We are all hoping for the best, ”said Indra.

Christie had a tougher time than the Malaysian in his last-four match as he needed 57 minutes to overcome his spirited teammate Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo 21-9, 18-21, 21-16.

Zii Jia and Aaron-Wooi Yik’s form bodes well for Malaysia ahead of the Thomas Cup finals in Bangkok from May 8-15.

Going one step further and overcoming their Indonesian opponents in their respective finals could prove just the right tonic for them ahead of the prestigious team meet.

SEMI-FINALS

Men’s singles: Lee Zii Jia bt Weng Hongyang (Chn) 21-11, 21-19; Jonatan Christie (Ina) bt Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo (Ina) 21-9, 18-21, 21-16. Men’s doubles: Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik bt Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani 21-13, 21-15; Pramudya Kusumawardana-Jeremia Rambitan (Ina) bt Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto (Ina) 22-20, 13-21, 21-18. Women’s singles: Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn) bt PV Sindhu (Ind) 13-21, 21-19, 21-16; Wang Zhiyi (Chn) bt An Se-young (Kor) 10-21, 21-12, 21-16. Women’s doubles: Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan (Chn) bt Du Yue-Li Wenmei (Chn) 21-12, 21-17; Rin Iwanaga-Kie Nakanishi (Jpn) bt Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota (Jpn) 16-21, 21-15, 21-19. Mixed doubles: Wang Yilyu-Huang Dongping (Chn) bt Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino (Jpn) 21-12, 24-22; Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong (Chn) bt Praveen Jordan-Melati Oktavianti (Ina) 21-8, ret.

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