Birmingham: Malaysia’s unseeded men’s pair Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik continued their surprising run at the oldest badminton tournament in the world, sweeping past Indonesia’s 8th-seeded Fajar Alfian/Muhammad Rian Ardianto 12-21, 22-20, 21-19 to take on the 2014 All England champions Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan on Sunday.
On the other hand, Hendra Setiawan injured his right calf muscle during the semi-finals match against No. 3 seeds Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda in the semi-finals.
Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik encountered some hiccups in their first set as they were not used to the fast tempo and strong smashes from the Indonesian pair, especially from Muhammad Rian Ardianto. Furthermore, the Indonesians were playing with more flat returns which avoided a lot of potential attacks from the Malaysian pair.
The second set action went down to the wire with Fajar Alfian/Muhammad Rian Ardianto saving three set-points to force deuce. Chia/Soh were keeping the pressure on Alfian/Ardianto in the nerve-wracking situation, forcing Ardianto to make a bad smash to open the lead at 21-20, and an attack from Chia towards Alfian able to score the 22nd point and force a decider.
It was a roller coaster ride in the rubber game, where Chia/Soh were leading at 16-12, before allowing Alfian/Ardianto to score five straight points to come from behind with 17-16. Then, every time when the Malaysians took a lead, the Indonesians were able to make a run to close the gap. At 19-19, Ardianto made his fourth service error of the match, which put the Malaysian pair at match point. A net shot return from Soh caused confusion among the Indonesian pair which ultimately send Chia/Soh into the All England final. Malaysia last won the All England men’s doubles event through Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong, where they defeated Cai Yun/Fu Haifeng 21-15, 21-18 to win the 2007 edition.
Meanwhile, the 2013 and 2015 World Champions, Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan, faced a tense first set battle with Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda with Hendra Setiawan suffered a right calf injury after he landed awkwardly following a smash at 20-19.
Setiawan’s injury continue to worsen as he had to seek doctor’s help twice to spray painkillers on his calf. The funny thing was, Kamura/Sonoda who were aware of Setiawan’s situation, were unable to take advantage of the opportunity and losing to the Indonesian pair in 44 minutes.
“Hendra wanted to keep fighting, therefore, we continued playing. The tempo had changed as the Japanese also wanted to take advantage of us. However, their strategy benefited us, because they were lifting the shuttlecocks more,” said Ahsan said after the match. Setiawan was unable to take part in the interview session because he had to immediately receive treatment for his injury.
“Our opponents tried to slow down the tempo of play, they wanted to keep the shuttlecock away from us. We didn’t think too much, trying to play one shot at a time, and fortunately, we were able to advance to the final,” added Ahsan.
In mixed doubles, Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Jemie Lai were no match for the good anticipation and fast net attack from defending champions Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino of Japan, losing to the Japanese pair 16-21, 13-21.
The No. 3 seeds Watanabe/Higashino will play No. 1 seeds Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong of China in the final.