Home crowd roars mixed doubles pair to shock win
Hee and Tan stun world No. 13 tandem but hosts suffer setbacks elsewhere
They held match-point in the second set at 20-14, but allowed their opponents to claw back three points to increase the anxiety level among locals at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
But a service error by South Korea's Eom Hye Won, who was partnering Choi Sol Gyu, presented Singaporeans Terry Hee and Tan Wei Han a 21-19, 21-17 a shock first-round win in the OUE Singapore Open mixed doubles competition yesterday.
The Singaporeans, ranked 53rd in the world, also beat the South Korean world No. 13 pair 27-25, 19-21, 21-14 at the Thailand Masters in February.
Tan, 22, said: "I am quite satisfied with our performance today; we've beaten them before, even though they are ranked higher than us, and that gave us a bit of confidence.
"We were also playing in front of a home crowd today, so we were hyped up and played better."
Hee, 20, added: "We had a good start and were playing quite well.
"They were probably under more pressure because they are higher-ranked while we had nothing to lose."
The Singapore pair will meet a Chinese pair - either Liu Yuchen and Tang Jinhua or Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong - in the second round tomorrow.
Hee and Tan's victory provided the Singapore team with some cheer on a day when local shuttlers battling to earn a ticket for the Rio Olympics crashed out of two events.
Men's singles world No. 60 Derek Wong failed to make it to the main draw after he was stunned 21-14, 21-16 by Taiwan's Lin Yu-hsien, ranked No. 116.
"My opponent played better. He took control of the match, especially the front of the court, and I could not counter his strengths today," said the Singaporean, who had earlier beaten Malaysia's Soo Teck Zhi 21-14, 21-14.
Mixed doubles world No. 28 Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Vanessa Neo also lost in the first round after a 21-12, 21-13 loss to Holland's Jacco Arends and Selena Piek.
The Singaporeans had not lost to the Dutch tandem in two previous encounters but found the world No. 14 pair too strong this time.
"They played very well today; they were fast, very solid and led all the way," said Chrisnanta, who partnered Hendra Wijaya to a 21-13, 21-11 win over Indonesians Arya Maulana Adiartama and Afiat Yuris Wirawan in the qualifiers yesterday to make it to the main draw.
Chrisnanta and Neo are racing against time to climb the world rankings and earn an Olympic spot, having gained ground after their upset of reigning All-England champions and world No. 8 pair Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto at the Malaysia Open last week.
Neo, 28, said: "Definitely disappointed; last week we caught up (in points), but this week we lost ground again.
"We are back to square one."