A LATE entry but a stunning start.
That sums up men’s singles shuttler Ng Tze Yong’s explosive beginning in his first World Championships in Tokyo yesterday.
Tze Yong performed like a seasoned campaigner to upstage Malaysian Masters champion Chico Aura of Indonesia 21-16, 21-10 in an impressive 40-minute display in the first round at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
Tze Yong will meet Thailand’s Sitthikom Thammasin, who defeated home hopeful Kanta Tsuneyama 13-21, 21-16, 21-13, in the second round tomorrow.
Tze Yong wasn’t even supposed to play in Tokyo as he was a first reserve but a late withdrawal from one of the qualifiers gave the Johorean a crucial breakthrough a fortnight ago.
The 22-year-old did the same at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last month.
Arriving at the Games as an underdog and as a last-minute replacement for Lee Zii Jia, he starred in Malaysia’s mixed team success and surprised many by securing the men’s singles silver.
“I tried to forget about the Commonwealth Games, as I did not want it to put pressure on me. This is a new start,” said Tze Yong after his win. “Firstly, I would consider myself a bit lucky getting into the World Championships. So I must use this opportunity to play well in this tournament.”
He doesn’t want to get into a muddle-thinking mode and just fight it with the Thai player as he did against Chico.
“No specific game plan. I just want to give my best to win every point,” added Tze Yong.
National doubles coaching director Wong Choon Hann was delighted with Tze Yong’s performance but wants the man of the moment to stay focused against the Thai shuttler.
“It’s a start fresh again for Tze Yong against Sitthikom. He’s a capable opponent as he proved it by his win over Tsuneyama,” said Choong Hann. “Tze Yong is taking one step at a time and this is working for him. Chico didn’t manage to hold his nerve in the first game and lost it. And this gave Tze Yong the confidence to play even better in the second game.”
A liberated Tze Yong, ranked world No. 42, was so dominant that he was always ahead of Chico (No. 35) and at one stage in the second game, took a runaway 12-2 lead to show his intent.
And expect the same fire when he faces the Thai next.