Photo credit: Tang Shi
26-28 in third game is not the way you want to exit the Asian Games. Both Malaysia’s mixed double pairs were up against opponents from Hong Kong today and both matches were settled with a two point margin in third game.
Everybody was looking forward for a potential rematch of the Olympic mixed double final from Rio de Janeiro when the draw came out few days ago. Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir were drawn to meet Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying in the quarterfinal. But that is not going to happen now.
Chen and Goh were up against Lee Chun Hei Reginald and Chau Hoi Wah from Hong Kong in second round today. The Malaysian duo had a 3-1 head-to-head lead before today and is ranked 14 spots higher on the world ranking than their opponents (9 vs. 23). Chen and Goh hold silver from the Rio Olympics 2016 and Lee and Chau have bronze from the World Championships 2017. There was an interesting match awaiting the two pairs.
And interesting it surely was. After seeing the Hong Kong pair take first game 21-17 Chan and Goh fought back in second game, which they won 21-19. With a 9-3 lead to the Malaysians in the third decisive game everything suddenly looked good for the Olympic silver medalists.
But they can only blame themselves for letting Lee Chun Hei Reginald and Chau Hoi Wah back into the game. The Hongkongers got in the lead for the first time at 18-17 and then followed a nerve-wrecking finish of the match.
73 minutes after the first serve of the match, the scoring board showed 28-26. Chan and Goh are out. Lee and Chau are ready for the Olympic Champions in next round.
Second shot for Malaysia
Malaysia has one more chance to get even with Hong Kong in mixed doubles. Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai were facing Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet on the same court some 40 minutes after their compatriots had lost. And it was the Malaysians who were seeking revenge from their last encounter: Tang and Tse had won in the semifinal of Malaysia Masters back in January.
Things began well for the Malaysians who won first game 21-14 but Tang and Tse leveled the match by taking second game 21-11. Once again a third decisive game was needed. The Hongkongers were in a comfortable situation as they were leading 17-13 but moments later they were down with match point.
It was 20-19 for Goh and Shevon but they failed to close the match. Three successful points for the opponents concluded a bad day for the Malaysian mixed doubles. Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet won 22-20 and thereby eliminated the second Malaysian hope with a two point margin. The Hong Kong duo will be up against Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai from Thailand in the quarterfinal.
No happy memories
To make things worse for the proud badminton nation Malaysia, their women’s double Chow Mei Kuan and Lee Meng Yean and men’s single Daren Liew were also eliminated today. Chow and Lee lost another close match with 21-19 in third game to Ashwini Ponnappa and Reddy N. Sikki from India. Finally Daren Liew, bronze medalist from the World Championships in Nanjing, couldn’t pass by Heo Kwang Hee from Korea as the Korean outsider won surprisingly in three games. Only positive news for Malaysia today was the victory of Lee Zii Jia who won in straight games against Azeem Sarwar from Pakistan in men’s single. The Asian Games 2018 will not be happy memories for Malaysia.