THOMAS CUP: MALAYSIA’S QUEST FOR GLORY ENDS IN LAST-FOUR DEFEAT BY CHINA

Nur Izzuddin Rumsani (right) dan Goh Sze Fei.
04/05/2024 10:11 PM

CHENGDU, May 4 (Bernama) -- Malaysia’s bid to end their 32-year wait for Thomas Cup glory ended in tatters after going down 3-1 to hosts China in the semi-finals of this year’s edition at an almost full capacity Chengdu High-Tech Zone Sports Centre today.

China rose to the occasion thanks to the vociferous home crowd support and Malaysia wilted under the weight of expectations and the power and might of the badminton giants.

China will now take on Indonesia in the title showdown after the 14-time champions thumped Taiwan in the other semi-final.

Lee Zii Jia

World number two men’s singles ace Shi Yu Qi set the tone for China’s storming success as he outplayed Malaysia’s professional men’s singles player Lee Zii Jia 21-19, 21-5 in just 35 minutes for a 1-0 lead.

After going down fighting in the first game, world number 10 Zii Jia ran out of steam in the next game and was given a lesson in badminton by world number two Yu Qi.

In the second match, 2022 men’s doubles world champion Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik overcame a shaky start against Liang Wei Keng-Wang Chang to succumb 15-21 before regaining their composure to take the second game 21-12 to force a rubber game.

Aaron Chia (right) dan Soh Wooi Yik.

Aaron-Wooi Yik engaged in a neck-and-neck battle in the decider until 16-16 before stepping up a gear to put Malaysia back in contention with a 21-17 victory after a titanic 55-minute slugfest.

Malaysia’s second singles player Leong Jun Hao then took to the court and, despite building up a six-point lead at 8-2 in the first game against Li Shi Feng, the Malaysian’s game went south and he fell 17-21.

That derailed his concentration in the second game. It showed as a series of unforced errors resulted in the world number 37 trailing 0-11 before Shi Feng, the 2022 Asian Games men's singles gold medallist, romped home to win 21-10.

That set the stage for Malaysians Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani to salvage the situation in the second doubles against He Ji Ting-Ren Xiang Yu.

Although the world number 15 pair gave Malaysians a glimmer of hope by winning the first game 21-18, all credit to the China pair for staging a remarkable comeback to win the next two games 21-19, 21-12 in 63 minutes to send Malaysia packing - and China into the final.

Malaysia opened the Group D campaign with two massive 5-0 victories over Hong Kong on April 27 and Algeria on April 28 but lost the chance to top the group after losing 3-2 to European powerhouse Denmark on Tuesday (April 30).

On Thursday (May 2), five-time champions Malaysia sent Japan packing 3-1 to advance to the semi-finals for the first time after eight years.

Meanwhile, the Uber Cup final will also be a China-Indonesia affair tomorrow.

In today’s semi-finals, 15-time champions China cruised to a 3-0 win over Japan while Indonesia stunned reigning champions South Korea, 3-2 to reach their first final after 16 years.

-- BERNAMA