KUALA LUMPUR: To the disappointment of the fans, World No 2 Lee Chong Wei was among the top badminton players who crashed out in the opening round of the Malaysia Masters here at the Axiata Arena on Wednesday.
Chong Wei, who initially did not intend to play in the tournament, lost 21-19, 18-21, 21-19 to Japan's Kenta Nishimoto.
"It's not really a big issue for me because this tournament was never on my priority list.
"In fact, following the World Super Series Finals (Dubai) last year, I was hoping to take a break to prepare for the All England (in March).
"It's okay, I will try again at the Malaysia Open (in June)," said Chong Wei, who will next compete at the Badminton Asia Team Championships in Alor Star, Kedah next month.
Apart from Chong Wei, the other top casualties on the opening day include five-time world champion Lin Dan, reigning Olympic champion Chen Long, and fourth seed Son Wan Ho of South Korea.
Following Chong Wei's shock first round exit, Malaysia's hopes for any glory in men's singles now rest on the shoulders of Lee Zii Jia and independent shuttler Liew Daren.
Zii Jia, who defeated Denmark's Emil Holst in the first round, will take on Kuala Lumpur Sea Games (KL2017) gold medallist Jonatan Christie of Indonesia on Thursday for a place in the quarter-finals.
Daren, who sent Wan Ho packing, plays another Korean Jeon Hyeok Jin next.