WITH an eye on the World Junior Championships in Chiba, Japan on Oct 25-Nov 3, Soong Joo Ven is looking to regain his winning touch by capturing the Maybank Malaysia Junior Open at Juara Stadium.
The inaugural event started yesterday with Joo Ven the favourite but he is wary of Thailand's Sitthikom Thammasin who had defeated the Malaysian in the Singapore International Series en route to the title last month.
The defeat came after Joo Ven's disappointment in the Asian Junior Championships in Gimcheon, South Korea in July where he lost to Kento Momota of Japan in the final.
Joo Ven, who defeated Dipesh Dami of Nepal 21-7, 21-10 in the first round yesterday, plays Andrew Susanto of Indonesia today.
"My target is to try and win the World Juniors although I can play again next year. It is very hard to say what will happen next year as there could be an injury or illness, so I want to give it my best shot in this year's event.
"Kento will be playing at home while Viktor (Axelsen of Denmark) is also eligible and it is going to be a tough competition.
"I want to win the Malaysia Junior Open as it will be a good warm-up for me but there are some strong players here.
"Sitthikom beat me in Singapore while his teammate Khosit (Phetpradib) is also hard to beat but I am looking forward to this tournament."
Khosit also cleared the first hurdle with a 17-21, 21-16, 21-11 win over national under-16 player R. Sathiestharan while Sitthikom beat Malaysian Yeoh Kah Seah 21-10, 21-14 in their opening match.
Another Malaysian hopeful, Soo Teck Zhi, was also through to the second round, beating Seo Seung Jae of South Korea 21-17, 21-8 while Tan Kiam Meng upset sixth seed Heo Kwang Hee, also from South Korea, 19-21, 21-13, 21-17 to advance.