KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing are confident that 2018 would be a good year for the national mixed doubles department.
On Thursday, the national No 1 reached the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Masters at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil, after notching a comfortable 21-16, 21-17 win over Thailand's Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Puttita Supajirakul in the second round.
They will play compatriots Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie, who registered a 21-16, 21-8 win over Taiwan's Wang Chi Lin-Lee Chia Hsin.
"We feel great because we seemed to have found our form in this tournament," said Pei Jing, who together with Kian Meng, struggled for consistency after winning the title last year in Sibu, Sarawak.
"Since winning the Malaysia Masters last year, we suffered a dip in form and didn't really have anything to show.
"This year, we've got a few targets which include winning a medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth and the Indonesia Asian Games. I think it's going to be a good year for the mixed doubles department."
On whether they feel threatened by the return of 2016 Rio Olympic Games silver medallists Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying, Kian Meng added: "I don't think so, in fact we are happy to have them back.
“The stronger the mixed doubles department is, the better we get.
"I think it only promotes a healthy competition among us, which is also good for the junior shuttlers as well. As you can see they are also performing."
Peng Soon-Liu Ying, fresh from winning the Thailand Masters last week, also checked into the quarter-finals after overcoming Denmark's Mathias Christiansen-Christinna Pedersen 21-18, 13-21, 21-18 in the second round.
The former No 1 take on second seeds Tang Chun Man-Tse Ying Suet next.
Meanwhile, in the men's singles, independent shuttler Liew Daren continued his impressive run by reaching the last-eight stage with a superb 21-17, 19-21, 21-16 win over South Korea's Jeon Hyeok Jin.
Daren, who left BAM two years ago, takes on Thailand's Suppanyu Avihingsanon for a place in the semi-finals.
It was, however, the end of the road for Lee Zii Jia, who fought hard before going down 19-21, 21-14, 21-15 to Kuala Lumpur Sea Games gold medallist Jonatan Christie of Indonesia.
Also through to the quarter-finals were men's doubles Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong.
The 2016 Rio Olympic Games silver medallists defeated teammates Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi 21-17, 21-17 in the second round, and will take on reigning world champions Liu Cheng-Zhang Nan next.
(Malaysians unless state)
Men's singles: Liew Daren bt Jeon Hyeok Jin (Kor) 21-17, 19-21, 21-16; Jonatan Christie (Ina) bt Lee Zii Jia 19-21, 21-14, 21-15; Viktor Axelsen (Den) bt Sai Praneeth (Ind) 21-17, 21-8;
Doubles: Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong bt Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi 21-17, 21-17;
Women's singles: Goh Jin Wei bt Pai Yu Po (Tai) 21-11, 21-11; Lee Ying Ying bt Aya Ohori (Jpn) 21-18, 17-21, 21-11;
Doubles: Tang Jinhua-Yu Xiaohan (Chn) bt Lim Yin Loo-Yap Cheng Wen 21-14, 21-18; Huang Dongping-Li Wenmei (Chn) bt Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei 21-14, 21-18;
Mixed doubles: Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing bt Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Puttita Supajirakul (Tha) 21-16, 21-17; Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie bt Wang Chi Lin-Lee Chia Hsin (Tai) 21-16, 21-8; Tang Chun Man-Tse Ying Suet (Hkg) bt K.Yogendran-Prajakta Sawant (Mas/Ind) 26-24, 21-12; Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying bt Mathias Christiansen-Christinna Pedersen 21-18, 13-2.