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Saturday December 15, 2012

Doubles pair Kien Keat-Boon Heong exit in cruel fashion

MEN’S doubles Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong exited the World Super Series Finals in cruel fashion, leaving Malaysia without a representative in the last four for the first time since the tournament’s inception in 2008.

Despite keeping their hopes alive with a superb 21-19, 15-21, 21-18 win over defending champions Boe Mathias-Carsten Mogensen on Wednesday, it was the Danes who advanced to the last four instead.

The Danish world No. 1 overcame China’s Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun 14-21, 21-12, 21-14 in 46 minutes to complete their fixtures as winners of Group A yesterday.

The outcome ensured that Haifeng-Cai Yun followed Boe-Mogensen into the semi-finals as the runners-up on points countback while Malaysia were left out despite all three pairs having collected two wins each.

The fourth pair in the so-called “Group of Death” – Kim Ki-sung-Kim Ja-rang – had pulled out of the tournament after Ki-sung suffered an injury during their opening match against Haifeng-Cai Yun on Wednesday.

Yesterday’s match certainly raised a question as to whether Haifeng-Cai Yun wanted to avoid the possibility of an all-China semi-final.

That was a possibility when Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo-Kenichi Hayakawa beat the second China pair of Hong Wei-Shen Ye 22-20, 12-21, 21-18 earlier to finish as Group B winners.

Haifeng-Cai Yun beat the Danes in straight games in the London Olympic final in August. Had they repeated the win here, they would have had to meet their younger team-mates today.

With the loss to the Dane, Haifeng-Cai Yun will now take on the Japanese pair for a place in the final.

Kien Keat-Boon Heong, winners in 2008, lost 11-21, 21-10, 10-21 to Haifeng-Cai Yun in their opening match.

Malaysia have had at least one pair in the semi-finals for the last four editions.

But doubles coach Pang Cheh Chang accepted the outcome.

“China’s top pair played according to strategy. They needed to win one game and not lose the rubber by more than 10 points to make the semis as runners-up behind the Danes,” said Cheh Chang.

“Haifeng-Cai Yun would have topped Group A and played against their team-mates if they had won.

“We can’t do anything about it. We would have played with this strategy too if we had two good pairs fighting for the semi-finals.

“But I am happy because Koo-Tan gave their best, although they were tired after a long season.”

Mogensen said the most important thing for them was to get through to the last four.

The Danes now have three wins and seven losses against Haifeng-Cai Yun.

“It’s never easy beating the Chinese pair each time. Our coach was happy we got the better of them as we needed to win to stay in the competition,” said Mogensen.

“But we’re not happy with the way we’ve played so far. We won the title the last two years and we have to step up our game tomorrow if we are to go for a third.”

The mixed doubles pair of Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying ended their maiden appearance in the Super Series Finals without winning a single match.

They lost 17-21, 17-21 to Olympic champions Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei of China yesterday for their third straight-game defeat.


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