Bittersweet day for Chen

Bittersweet day for Chen

His run as a professional badminton men's singles player ended yesterday, but Ashton Chen will still take to the courts today at the OUE Singapore Open, in the men's doubles event.

The men's singles world No. 69 has already declared the Super Series tournament at the Singapore Indoor Stadium as the last in his professional career.

Chen exited the men's singles competition yesterday, putting up a good fight before being beaten 21-18, 21-19 by Malaysia's Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif in the second round of qualifiers.

The lanky shuttler crouched before reporters in the mixed zone after the match, with a red and white towel covering his head.

TEARY-EYED

When he finally composed himself, the teary-eyed 25-year-old said: "This is my last tournament and I just wanted to do well, but I didn't do well in the second half of the second set.

"I kept making unforced errors and threw away a lot of points."

He returned to the same court about two hours later to partner Robin Gonansa, and Chen was in a much brighter mood after a 21-13, 21-17 victory over India's Guru Prasad and Venkatesh Prasad.

Speaking after the game, Gonansa cheekily said: "I will miss him, he is my senior, my partner, my everything..."

"But not your girlfriend," Chen interjected, smiling.

Asked if progress in the men's doubles made up for the disappointment in the singles, Chen said: "There is no disappointment, I am just going all out in all my matches and I will do the same tomorrow."

Chen and Gonansa will be joined by several teammates in the main draw today.

Malaysia Grand Prix Gold men's doubles champions Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Chayut Triyachart booked their spot after beating Indonesia's Saputra Albert and Yonathan Suryatama Dasuki 21-15, 21-15.

Chayut also partnered Yao Lei in the mixed doubles to beat Japan's Takeshi Kamura and Misato Aratama 22-20, 21-12.

They will be joined by the Republic's other mixed doubles duo, Terry Hee and Fu Mingtian.

Said Chayut, after his matches yesterday: "There was definitely some pressure to get out of the qualifiers (for men's doubles) after our recent win in Malaysia, since making the main draw was a key target."

Chayut and Yao Lei will face world champions and world No. 2 pair Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia today, while the Chen-Gonansa combination will go up against world champions and world No. 1 pair Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan, also from Indonesia, in the men's doubles.

Said Yao Lei: "I am actually very excited to play (Tontowi and Liliyana), they are very strong but we will just fight them to the end."

This article was published on April 9 in The New Paper.

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