Defending champs Aaron-Wooi Yik ready to rumble at badminton worlds

KUALA LUMPUR: National top men's pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik are ready to pull off a similar feat which saw them defy the odds to become world champions last year.

They went to Tokyo without a World Tour title to their names — despite entering six semi-finals — but went on to end the nation's 45-year wait for a first world title.

It appears to be the nearly identical script this time, Aaron-Wooi Yik still unable to end their relentless pursuit of World Tour victory, although they did make it to two finals — the India Open in January and Indonesia Open in June.

Wooi Yik believes he and Aaron can rise to the big occasion as a major tournament always bring out the best in them. They were also bronze medallists in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

"It's the biggest event of the year, we want to give our best. Hopefully, we can deliver the highest level of performance," said Wooi Yik.

"Aaron and I will work together to build confidence from one match to another."

Hoping to take inspiration from last year's outing, Aaron seeks to break through the barrier once again.

"I think the semi-final win (against India's Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty) was massive as we stuck in the semi-finals on so many occasions. It was the biggest match for us," he recounted.

"The men's doubles has always been competitive, it's never easy. We need to focus on our own game and do our best."

Based on the draw, the fourth-seeded Aaron-Wooi Yik can expect a stiff challenge to reach the final.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Aaron-Wooi Yik are expected to cross path with reigning Olympic gold medallists Lee Yang-Wang Chi Lin.

The other seeded pairs in their draw are Indonesia's top seeds Fajar Alfian-Muhammad Rian Ardianto and Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan, and China's Liu Yu Chen-Ou Xuan Yi and He Ji Ting-Zhou Hao Dong.

Malaysia's seventh seeds Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi and Man Wei Chong-Tee Kai Wun, who qualified in the eleventh hour following the withdrawal of India's Dhruv Kapila-M.R. Arjun, are in the bottom half of the draw.

Yew Sin-Ee Yi, the 2021 bronze medallists, should reach the last 16 with relative ease before facing their first test against Denmark's Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen.

The other formidable rivals in their path include 2021 world champions Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi of Japan, Satwiksairaj-Chirag and China's Liang Wei Keng-Wang Chang.

Taiwan Open champions Wei Chong-Kai Wun will open their campaign against Ronan Labar-Lucas Corvee of France in the first round.

In the women's doubles, Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah's challenge will only commence in the second round where they should face Scotland's Julia MacPherson-Clara Torrance while Anna Cheong-Teoh Mei Xing should beat their first round opponents Annie Xu-Kerry Xu of the United States to set up the next clash with eighth seeds Rawinda Prajongjai-Jongkolphan Kittitharakul of Thailand.

The mixed doubles contest features three Malaysian pairs led by 10th seeds Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie. Chen Tang Jie-Toh Ee Wei and Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing are also in the fray.

However, the chances of them advancing beyond the quarter-finals are bleak.

China's rising stars Jiang Zhen Bang-Wei Ya Xin stand in Soon Huat-Shevon's way in the third round, while Pei Jing-Kian Meng have South Korea's Seo Seung Jae-Chae Yu Jung to deal with also in the same stage.

Two-time World Tour winners Tang Jie-Ee Wei face French seventh seeds Thom Gicquel-Delphine Delrue in the first round.

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