Badminton

Friday, 8 April 2016 | MYT 10:29 PM

Peng Soon-Liu Ying storm to semis, face world champs Zhang Nan-Yunlei

Liu Ying reacts after winning while Peng Soon looks on. Both reach their first semi-finals in three years at Malaysian Open. - S.S.KANESAN/The Star

Liu Ying reacts after winning while Peng Soon looks on. Both reach their first semi-finals in three years at Malaysian Open. - S.S.KANESAN/The Star

SHAH ALAM: Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying reached their first Superseries semi-finals in three years after a hard-fought win over Thailand’s Puavaranukroh Dechapol-Sapsiree Taerattanachai at the Celcom Axiata Malaysian Open.

The Malaysians won 21-18, 20-22, 21-17 in 69 minutes to set up a clash with world No. 1 Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei.

Peng Soon-Liu Ying’s last semi-final appearance in a Superseries event was at the season-ending BWF Superseries Finals in Kuala Lumpur in December 2013. They have won seven international titles but only one Superseries-rated crown at the Japan Open in 2013.

Last night, Peng Soon-Liu Ying could have sealed the quarter-final tie in straight games. After winning a close first game and leading comfortably at 17-13 in the second, Peng Soon-Liu Ying faltered to allow Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree to win 20-22 to force a decider.

Luckily, the Malaysians recovered their composure. They raced to a 6-0 lead and were never really troubled until the end.

“Towards the end of the second game, the Thais caught us off guard with their sudden tactical change,” said Peng Soon.

“But we regrouped during the interval and came out with a better game plan in the rubber to get the better of them.”

Peng Soon admitted that it would be tough for them to beat world champions Zhang Nan-Yunlei, whom they have never beaten in nine previous meetings.

“I think we have yet to even take a game off them. We will have to prepare thoroughly for our match tomorrow,” said Peng Soon.

Zhang Nan-Yunlei, also the 2012 London Olympic gold medallists, have yet to drop a game in the tournament. Last night, they were easy 21-15, 21-12 winners over Singapore’s Danny Bawa Chrisnanta-Vanessa Neo Yu Yan.

The other semi-final is between 2013 Malaysian Open winners Joachim Fischer Nielsen-Christinna Pedersen of Denmark against Indonesian second seeds Tontowi Ahmad-Liliyana Natsir.

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