SITTHIKOM Thammasin of Thailand is one of three rivals standing between Soon Joo Ven and the world junior boys' singles crown and both will be trading early blows in the Malaysia Junior Open at Juara Stadium today.
Joo Ven, the second seed, admitted Sitthikom is the strongest player in the tournament although he is seeded only fifth, and feels it will be an achievement if he can beat him in the semi-finals today.
Both players advanced to the last four in contrasting fashions as Joo Ven received a walkover from Jeon Hyun Jin of South Korea, who suffered an ankle injury on Thursday, while Thammasin was stretched to three games by Indonesian Thomi Azizan Mahbub before winning 18-21, 21-12, 21-13 in 55 minutes.
Thammasin, who beat Joo Ven 21-16, 13-21, 22-20 in the second round en route to securing the Singapore International Series title last month, Asian junior champion Kento Momota of Japan and former world junior winner Viktor Axelsen of Denmark are threats that Joo Ven must overcome in the World Juniors in Chiba, Japan on Oct 25-Nov 3.
National No 2 Soo Teck Zhi fell in the quarter-finals when he lost 21-11, 21-19 to fourth seed Ng Ka Long of Hong Kong while Tan Kian Meng was beaten 26-24, 21-14 by Choi Sol Kyu of South Korea.
Boys' doubles coach Yap Kim Hock's desperate measures to secure Malaysia's fourth consecutive boys' world doubles title took a blow after Tan Wee Gieen, who partners Tai An Khang, suffered an ankle injury in the quarter-finals yesterday.
Darren Issac-Ong Yu Sin had won the first game 21-19, and were leading 18-9 when Wee Gieen fell awkwardly and sprained his ankle.
Darren-Yu Sin will play Hafzi Faizal-Putra Eko Rhoma of Indonesia, who defeated compatriots Arsya Ardi Putra-Hantoro Hantoro 21-16, 18-21, 21-16, in the last four today.
Malaysia also have two pairs in the mixed doubles semi-finals.
Chua Kek Wei-Joyce Choong defeated South Korea's Kim Jung Ho-Kim Ji Won 21-19, 21-18 while Dede Ryan Philip-Erica Khoo received a walkover from another Korean pair, Jeon Kyuk Jin-Lee Min Ji.
The Malaysians will square off against each other today.