DEFENDING champions Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong assured Malaysia at least a bronze medal in badminton after storming into the semi-finals of the men’s doubles competition at the Tianhe Gymnasium yesterday.
But Wong Mew Choo’s run ended when she crashed out in the quarter-finals of the women’s singles, losing 20-22, 11-21 to Japanese Eriko Hirose in a gruelling 40-minute match.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong lived dangerously to beat Japan’s Hirokatsu Hashimoto-Noriyasu Hirata 21-19, 13-21, 21-18 to set up a match today against Indonesian scratch pair Mohd Ahsan-Alven Yulianto for a place in the final.
The Indonesians ended China’s challenge in the men’s doubles by beating Guo Zhengdong-Xu Chen 14-21, 21-19, 21-16.
Earlier, world champions Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng went down 16-21, 12-21 to South Koreans Lee Yong-dae-Jung Jae-sung.
The Koreans will play against former world champions Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia in the other semi-final.
Boon Heong was glad that they survived by the skin of their teeth.
“We allowed them to take control of the game after we took a 7-1 lead in the first game.
“That was our biggest mistake. We should have kept up our momentum,” he said.
The Japanese closed the gap in the first game and were snapping at the heels of the Malaysians but, fortunately, Kien Keat-Boon Heong prevailed.
The Japanese were stronger in the second game and led 11-8 in the rubber. But Kien Keat-Boon Heong steadily stepped up a gear to win the match.
“At one point, I thought we were going to lose. But we stayed strong mentally to overcome the very tense situation in the decider. It’s a big relief to win,” said Boon Heong.
On the match against Ahsan-Alven today, Boon Heong said: “They can sustain for long on court and they are quite crafty. We will be ready for them.”
The 27-year-old Mew Choo was disappointed to let slip a chance to win at least a bronze in her final fling in the Asian Games.
“Eriko was in top form today. I played well in the opening game but I just could not find a way to break her rhythm,” said the 2007 China Open champion, who has beaten the Japanese in five of their previous seven meetings.
The first game was nail-biting with both Mew Choo and Eriko pushing each another to the limit.
They locked horns again briefly in the second game before Eriko shifted into high gear to win the battle of endurance to set up a match against China’s Wang Xin.
“She won the test of fitness today. It’s a pity to lose in this close manner,” said Mew Choo, who will turn her attention to qualification for the 2012 London Olympics.