KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 — Top national women’s doubles pair Pearly Tan – M. Thinaah staged a remarkable fightback to stun fourth seeds Yuki Fukushima – Sayaka Hirota 13 – 21, 21 – 19, 21 – 16 and check into the semi-finals of the Malaysia Masters 2023, earlier today.
The sixth-seeded Tan – Thinaah got off to a rocky start at the Axiata Arena, with several errors at the net proving costly as they lost the first game of their quarter-final match 13 – 21.
Things looked gloomy for the national camp when world number 11 Tan – Thinah found themselves trailing again in the second game before levelling the scores at 16-all before stepping on the gas to win it 21 – 9 and force a decider.
Tan – Thinaah again found themselves playing catch-up against the world number nine Japanese pair to trail 1 – 6 in the final game before regaining their composure to draw level and go 18 – 15 up.
Buoyed, the Malaysians then sealed a 21 – 16 win to book a spot in the last four after a gruelling battle that lasted nearly two hours.
Tan – Thinaah will face Jeong Na Eun – Kim Hye Jeong in the semi-final after the fifth-seeded South Koreans upset Indonesian second seeds Apriyani Rahayu – Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti 21 – 15, 18 – 21, 21 – 16 in the last eight.
Despite finding herself huffing and puffing in the last two games, Tan admitted the presence of her family here inspired her to finish off what they started and advance to the next stage with Thinaah.
“I was not injured but, at one point, I felt like I could not really stand on the court, but I did not want to disappoint my partner, who covered so much for me.
“I also did not want to disappoint our coaches. I just told myself to stay strong and fight until the end,” she told reporters after the titanic quarter-final tussle.
Asked about the incident in the rubber game where the umpire abruptly stopped the game during a long rally, with the Japanese pair leading 12 – 11, Tan said there was nothing much they could do about decisions made by those in charge.
Meanwhile, doubles coaching director Rexy Mainaky questioned the legitimacy of Serbian umpire Alexander Olennikov’s controversial decision to suddenly stop the match during a long rally in the third game.
“The players are tired during a long rally but the umpire stopped the game because he saw the Japanese coach still talking to his players. I got up and complained because they are also former players and should understand that players are tired. This is the first time I have come across such an incident,” he said.
At the same time, Rexy expressed disappointment at seeing the rigid badminton rules so much so that the players do not get the freedom they deserved.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian-born Rexy admitted that Tan was still feeling the effects of yesterday’s long rally of 211 strokes against another Japanese pair, Rena Miyaura – Ayako Sakuramoto, en route to winning 21 – 18, 8 – 21, 21 – 19 and sealing a place in the last eight.