Bangkok: Malaysia’s World No. 20 Teo Ee Yi/Ong Yew Sin had to fight off series of power smashes from World No. 24 Liu Cheng/Huang Kai Xiang to survive a nerve-jangling three-set match in an epic Thailand Masters men’s doubles final in Bangkok on Sunday.
Teo/Ong battled back from 18-21 down in the fist-set to ultimately beat Liu/Huang 18-21, 21-17, 21-17. The victory also ended Teo/Ong’s three-year title draught as their last title was the 2016 Bitburger Open Grand Prix Gold.
In the first set, Teo/Ong had no answers to Liu/Huang’s thundering smashes that piercing through their defense. But in the second set, Teo/Ong were focusing more on the net, avoided lifting high returns to the Chinese pair. The Malaysian pair also lifted the shuttlecock much higher if they had to, so that they could get ready to defense the smashes from Liu/Huang. That strategy worked out well as it made the Chinese pair very uncomfortable and committed a lot of errors.
The decider came once again very close, but after 16-16, Teo/Ong reeled off four consecutive points to reach the match point before clinching the decider 21-17.
Ever since they were dropped from the Malaysian national team early January this year, it’s obvious that Teo/Ong were more mature on the court and also more determined to win matches. They made less mistakes compare to when they were with the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM), playing crazy defense, and know how to control the rhythm better. In fact, their playing style reminded me of Rudy Gunawan/Eddy Hartono of Indonesia, one of the top four men’s pairs during the early 90’s, especially those between the leg returns from Ong Yew Sin. Nevertheless, Teo/Ong would need to continue work harder if they would like to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
In men’s singles, Angus Ng Ka Long of Hong Kong outlasted Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto 16-21, 21-13, 21-12 to win the title. Although Korea’s An Se Young put up a spirited fight but the No. 1 seed Akane Yamaguchi proved stronger by winning the women’s singles final 21-16, 22-20.
Meanwhile, Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan of China and Marcus Ellis/Lauren Smith of England took home the women’s doubles and mixed doubles titles respectively.