WORLD number one pair Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong made it a lovely day in Paris for Malaysia when they stormed into the country’s first men’s doubles final in 13 years at the World Championships in Pierre de Coubertin Stadium yesterday.
The duo continued to show their strong determination and ambition to be the first world champion when they clawed back from 10-16 in the second game to beat China’s Guo Zhengdong-Xu Chen 21-14, 21-18 in 40 minutes.
Today, they will take on the winner of the other semi-final match between two previous world champions – Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng of China and Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia.
It was the duo’s first final appearance in three outings after their failure to live up to expectations in the Kuala Lumpur in 2007 and Hyderabad last year.
Boon Heong was happy with the win but vowed to keep his feet firmly on the ground.
“It feels good to finally make the final for the first time. But the battle is far from over and we have to stay focused,” said Boon Heong.
“I am in better condition compared to yesterday (on Friday’s win against Lee Yong-dae-Jung Jae-sung of South Korea). It is now all in our minds.
“I was not too happy with the way we played in the second game. The shuttle was fast and we were too deep behind and the front was neglected,” he said.
“Fortunately, we changed our strategy and regained our control in the game.
“We have to be alert all the time tomorrow (today).”
After a morale-boosting opening game win, the Malaysians were staring at the possibility of being dragged into a decider when they trailed 10-16.
The Chinese made them an easy target at the front court but fortunately, the Malaysians kept up the pressure to slowly find their way back to victory.
Kien Keat, who has won a total of three bronze medals in the world series, was happy to clear the semi-final hurdle for the first time.
“It is amazing how Boon Heong and I came back from 10-16 in the second game. It is all about our fighting spirit and determination here,” said Kien Keat.
Kien Keat won a bronze medal with Chan Chong Ming in 2005 and another bronze in the mixed doubles with Wong Pei Tty in 2006 and last year ended with the bronze with Boon Heong.
“Boon Heong and I are fitter – compared to our form in the Thomas Cup Finals. Malaysians have been branded as failures at the final hurdle but we will try to change that tomorrow,” he said.
“We have ended a 36-year wait for a Asiad title in 2006. Now, we have the chance to win the first world title. We will not be too worried about this but we will go all out to give our best.
“That is our promise and we hope our Malaysian fans will pray for us.”
For the record, Kien Keat-Boon Heong are only the fourth pair to reach the final in the world championships since its inception in 1977.
The others are Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock (1997, Glasgow), Soon Kit-Soo Beng Kiang (1993, Birmingham) and Razif-Jalani Sidek (1987, Beijing).
Men’s singles: Peter Gade (Den) bt Kazushi Yamada (Jpn) 21-19, 21-12.
Women’s singles: Wang Shixian (Chn) bt Saina Nehwal (Ind) 21-8, 21-14; Wang Xin (Chn) bt Pi Hongyan (Fra) 21-13, 21-15.
Men’s doubles: Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng (Chn) bt Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen (Den) 21-11, 21-15; Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan (Ina) bt Fang Chieh Min-Lee Sheng Mu (Tpe) 21-14,21-14.
Women’s doubles: Cheng Wen Hsing-Chien Yu Chin (Tpe) bt Hyun Young-yoo-Jung Kyung-eun (Kor) 21-14, 21-17; Du Jing-Yu Yang (Chn) bt Pan Pan-Tian Qing (Chn) 22-20, 21-18.
Men’s singles: Chen Jin (Chn) bt Peter-Gade Christensen (Den) 19-21, 21-8, 21-11; Taufik Hidayat (Ina) bt Park Sung-hwan (Kor) 21-10, 22-20.
Men’s doubles: Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong (Mas) bt Guo Zhengdong- Xu Chen (Chn) 21-14, 21-18.
Women’s singles: Wang Lin (Chn) bt Tine Baun (Den) 21-11, 21-8.
Mixed doubles: Ma Jin-Zheng Bo (Chn) bt Ko Sung-hwan-Ha Jung-eun (Kor) 15-21, 21-11, 21-16; He Hanbin-Yu Yang (Chn) bt Lee Sheng-mu-Chien Yu-chin (Tpe) 21-13, 21-8.