PETALING JAYA: The first time is always the sweetest.
And that was exactly how national No. 2 mixed doubles pair Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing felt after checking into the semi-finals of the Singapore Open – their first time-ever in the Superseries.
The world No. 10 screamed with delight and jumped for joy after stunning fourth seeds Joachim Fischer Nielsen-Christinna Pedersen of Denmark 10-21, 21-18, 21-18 in a thrilling 69-minute quarter-final match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Kian Meng was overjoyed after defeating the veteran Danes in only their first meeting.
“They are experienced and are one of the top pairs in the world ... we gave them too much respect in the first game,” admitted Kian Meng.
“We stepped up in the second game and played true to our abilities. It was a close match, but we’re glad we came through to make our first semi-finals in the Superseries.”
The Malaysians will take on Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand for a place in the final.
“We beat the Thais in the Thailand Open last year, but it was close. They are also in good form here, so Pei Jing and I must not take it easy in the semis.”
Pei Jing was also happy that they managed to put behind them the first-round loss at the Malaysian Open just a week ago.
“It’s all about changing our mindset since that first-round loss. We believe in ourselves and we stayed calm during the match. It’s unbelievable to go beyond the quarters for the first time,” said Pei Jing.
“I made some mistakes against the Danes, but I managed to buck up after talking to my coach and changing the game plan.
“I can’t afford to do the same against the Thais tomorrow.”
It was all over though for world No. 4 men’s doubles shuttlers Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong following a 15-21, 15-21 loss to Indonesians Berry Angriawan-Hardianto Hardianto in a 37-minute quarter-final on Friday.
“They did not play well ... made many mistakes. They were out of sync today. Instead of being calm and collected, they were in a rush to make good shots,” said national coach Jeremy Gan.
“We’ll work on their combination and, hopefully, they’ll play with more confidence at the Asian Badminton Championships in China next (April 25-30).”