Birmingham: The World No. 18 men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik from Malaysia put up a gutsy fight against World No. 12 Liu Cheng/Zhang Nan of China on Friday, beating the 2017 World Champions 21-19, 17-21, 21-12 to advance to the All England semi-finals.
Soh/Chia relied on their speed, defense and penetration to score their first set win. However, Zhang Nan started to take over the game at the end of second set to successfully force a decider. Learning from their second set loss, Soh/Chia directed their attacks more towards Liu Cheng in the third, and their strategy proved to work well as they rallied to an 11-3 lead, and a flick serve from Chia towards Liu Cheng which landed inbound allowed them to clinch the deciding rubber in a match that lasted 64 minutes.
The strong defense from Soh and aggressive attacks from Chia reminded me of another great men’s doubles pair, Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae-Sung of South Korea. Soh/Chia will play World No. 9 Fajar Alfian/Muhammad Rian Ardianto of Indonesia on Saturday.
The No. 8 seeds Fajar Alfian/Muhammad Rian Ardianto, on the other hand, picked up their quarter-final triumph by overcoming Malaysia’s Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong 22-20, 21-12.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s unseeded mixed doubles pair Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Jemie Lai overcame No. 2 seeds Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping of China 13-21, 22-20, 21-18 to join defending champions Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino, No. 1 seeds Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong, and unseeded Praveen Jordan/Melati Daeva Oktavianti in the All England semi-finals.
Goh/Lai started the match with a successful hawk-eye review early in the first set, but the Chinese pair was quickly turned that momentum around by taking the first set 21-13.
The World No. 14 Malaysian pair took advantage of Wang/Huang’s mistakes in the second match and managed to pull through with a 22-20 victory.
Goh Soon Huat had to request a medical timeout to have the medical staff look at his right shoulder in the decider when they were leading at 7-6. Both pairs stayed neck and neck until the very last minute when Goh converted the match point through his smash that bounced off the net and landed on Wang/Huang’s side.
The Malaysian pair will play World No. 3 Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino in the last four.