Tan Boon Heong, All-England, Arena Birmingham, Mixed Doubles

Tan Boon Heong, All-England

It’s a Boon to be honest

It's a Boon to be honest

15/3/2021 2:02:00 AM

It's a Boon to be honest

PETALING JAYA: Former All-England champion Tan Boon Heong is one who does not mince his words.

And he said this despite the absence of six out of the world’s top 10 mixed pairs in this year’s edition which kicks off at Arena Birmingham on Wednesday.“Seeded or not, it depends very much if the Malaysian pairs are able to perform to their full potential. They need to do something special to win, ” said Boon Heong, who won the men’s doubles title with Koo Kien Keat in 2007.

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Since the All-England’s inception in 1899, Malaysia has yet to taste success in the mixed doubles although the late David Choong had won it with English partner June White in 1953.The closest Malaysia came was through 2016 Rio Olympic Games silver medal winners Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying but they lost in a three-game thriller to China’s Lu Kai-Huang Yaqiong in 2017.

The other Malaysian pairs competing this year are Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie, Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing, Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See and Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei.Young hopefuls: Hoo Pang Ron (right) and Cheah Yee See are one of five Malaysian mixed doubles pairs competing in Birmingham this week. headtopics.com

“It’s no secret that these mixed doubles players have been struggling to impress, judging from their results of late, ” said Boon Heong.“The draw may look favourable to some but they should focus on one match at a time and not take anyone for granted. It’s all about rebuilding their confidence, ” he said.

The notable absentees are China’s world No. 1 Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong, world No. 3 Wang Yilyu-Huang Dongping and world No. 2 Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand, who made a clean sweep of all three titles during the Asian leg of the World Tour in January.

In their absence, the top six seeded pairs are Praveen Jordan-Melati Oktavianti of Indonesia, Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino of Japan, Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying, Marcus Ellis-Lauren Smith of England, Soon Huat-Shevon and Kian Meng-Pei Jing.Praveen-Melati are the defending champions while Watanabe-Higashino, who are coached by former international Jeremy Gan, were the winners in 2018.

While acknowledging that Praveen-Jordan and Watanabe-Higashino, who skipped the recent Swiss Open, are the pairs to beat, Boon Heong also warned the Malaysians to be wary of European rivals.“There’s no such thing as a ‘winnable match’ against European opponents anymore. They have improved in recent years and are making inroads in all events, ” said Boon Heong. headtopics.com

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The most improved European mixed combination is none other than Thom Gicquel-Delphine Delrue of France, who have broken into the world top 10 following their stunning victory at the Swiss Open.Together with England’s pride - Ellis-Smith and world No. 14 Chris Adcock-Gabrielle Adcock – the Europeans will be out to stamp their mark and reclaim the last title won by local stars Nathan Robertson-Gail Emms in 2005.

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