Mixed fortunes for M’sia in Masters

Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari (centre) with the winners of the men’s doubles on the podium. Indonesian pair of Berry Angrizwan/ Hardianto Hardianto (at right) won the title when they defeated Malaysia’s Goh Sze Fei/Nur Izzuddin 21-19, 21-12. — Photos by Othman Ishak

Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari (centre) with the winners of the men’s doubles on the podium. Indonesian pair of Berry Angrizwan/Hardianto Hardianto (at right) won the title when they defeated Malaysia’s Goh Sze Fei/Nur Izzuddin 21-19, 21-12. — Photos by Othman Ishak

SIBU: It was a bitter end to the fairy tale run of the young Malaysian men’s doubles pair of Goh Sze Fei/Nur Izzuddin when they finally met their match at the finals of the Victor Far East Malaysia Masters (VFEMM) which concluded at the Sibu Indoor Stadium at Teng Chun Hua Road yesterday.

The two 19-year-olds lost in straight sets 19-21, 12-21 to the more experienced Indonesian pair of Berry Angrizwan/Hardianto Hardianto and were sent packing in about 40 minutes.

More than 2,000 fans turned up to watch the five final matches yesterday which were also broadcast ‘live’ on Astro.

The story could have been rewritten had Goh/Izzuddin maintained their composure but lack of experience to handle the pressure proved to be their ultimate downfall.

“It’s a pity we failed to keep our cool when we were in a strong lead in the first game and once the pressure set in, we lost focus and concentration and our game simply fell apart,” Izzuddin said in a post-match interview.

He conceded that the Indonesian pair was brilliant and sharp with their strokes and smashes and on top of that, they rarely committed any mistakes. “This put our game plan in a very uncomfortable position and though we did try to attack them, we just failed to penetrate their positions,” he added.

The Malaysian pair, who had earlier stunned the Indonesian pair of former Oyympic and world champion Markis Kido/Hendra Gunawan enroute to the final, promised to put in more training and come back stronger in the next tournament.

Goh/Izzuddin actually started with a bang and buoyed by the partisan crowd, they surged into an early lead at 4-1. Riding high on the momentum, they widened the lead to 9-3 before the Indonesian pair recouped and began to settle down.

Though the Malaysians were still leading, their lead was slowly slashed from 12-7 to 14-10, then 18-15 before the Indonesian pair equalized at 18-18 and eventually took the first game at 21-19.

Goh/Izzuddin tried a comeback in the second half with both sides playing a fast, attacking game with a flurry of powerful smashes and drop-shots that thrilled the crowd.

It was creeping point for point until 9-9 before the Indonesians pulled ahead to 15-10, 17-11, 19-21 and wrapped up the game at 21-12.Even the presence of Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Open and his entourage of ministers comprising of Minister of Youth, Sports and Solidarity Dato Sri Michael Manyin, Assistant Minister for Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and Temenggong Datuk Vincent Lau Lee Ming.

Malaysia, however, gained consolation when they lifted the title in the mixed doubles through the world No. 9 pair of Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing in an all-Malaysia final when they beat Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Jemie Lai 21-17, 21-19. The next assignment for Tan/Lai will be the All England, with a modest target of reaching the quarter-finals.

“This is the first time that my partner Kian Meng will be playing in the All England and we do not have much expectations,” Lai said in a post-match interview.

In fact, Pei Jing only disclosed that she had been carrying a nagging injury to her right leg and hand since day one of the Malaysia Masters and she never expected to lift the title. ‘My leg hurts each time I did my training and exercise and I am happy that it’s all over now. And I am also grateful to Kian Meng for providing all the solid support.

Earlier, in the men’s singles, tournament top seed Angus Ng Kah Long lifted the title after South Korea Lee Hyun-il retired in the rubber-set while trailing at 9-10. It was a very unfortunate moment as Lee was forced to retire after hitting his left eye with his own racquet while going for a kill. Lee took the first set at 21-14 but Ng secured the second set to set up the thrilling rubber-set.

In the women’s doubles final, tournament top seed Thailand Jongkolphan Kititharakul/Rawinda Prajonjai cemented their status as they easily beat the Hongkong pair of Poon Lok Yan/Tse Ying Suet of Hongkopng 21-19, 21-9 in 30 minutes.

Women’s singles tournament top seed Saina Nehwal of India from India also ensured that there was no upset when she fended off a strong challenge from Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong with a nail-biting win of 22-20, 22-20.

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