KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 — The nation’s top mixed doubles pair, Chen Tang Jie-Toh Ee Wei, deeply appreciated the unwavering support of home fans, which boosted their spirits to defeat Pakkapon Teeraratsakul-Phataimas Muenwong in the first round of the Malaysia Masters today.

The world number nine pair easily overpowered the 42nd-ranked Thai pair 21-12, 21-14 at Axiata Arena here to advance to the second round for the first time.

In their debut last year, Tang Jie- Ee Wei were eliminated in the first round by Indonesia’s Rinov Rivaldy -Pitha Haningtyas Mentari.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Tang Jie and Ee Wei acknowledged that the presence of thousands of supporters in the 10am match invigorated them, helping them quickly adjust after a short break since competing in the Asian Championships in Ningbo, China, from April 9-14.

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“Despite the rain and the public holiday (in conjunction with Wesak Day), many showed up early to support us, which gave us extra motivation. Since it was the first match, we didn’t overthink it, but we’re happy to have progressed this time,” Ee Wei said.

“This is our first time qualifying for the Olympics, so we need to take every tournament seriously and aim to win as much as we can,” Ee Wei added.

The pair will next face India’s Sumeeth Reddy-Sikki Reddy, who overcame Lui Chun Wai and Fu Chi Yan from Hong Kong in 21-15, 12-21, 21-17, tomorrow.

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Tang Jie said they will devise the best strategy after analysing the 53rd-ranked pair’s performance.

Former national mixed doubles pair Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing were the last Malaysians to win the title, in 2017.

Meanwhile, in the women’s singles, national shuttler K. Letshanaa bowed out 14-21, 9-21 to top seed Han Yue of China in 33 minutes.

The world number six Han Yue will next face Taiwan’s Hung Yi Ting, who ousted Belgium’s Lianne Tan with a score of 21-11, 21-13. — Bernama