PETALING JAYA: Earlier in January, top national women’s doubles pair Woon Khe Wei and Vivian Hoo have targeted to break into the world’s top 10 rankings by the end of the year.
But it looks like they will achieve that much earlier.
After the world No. 13 cruised into the semi-finals of the China Masters after making short work of unheralded Arisa Higashino-Chisato Hoshi of Japan 21-15, 21-11 in Changzho.
It will be Khe Wei-Vivian’s third Grand Prix Gold semi-final appearance of the season, having reached the same stage at the German Open in January and Indian Open in February.
But the reigning Commonwealth and SEA Games gold medallists face a stern test against formidable Chinese pair Tang Jinhua-Zhong Qianxin for a place in the final.
The 119th ranked Jinhua-Qianxin are a scratch pair who made the semi-finals of the All-England last month.
“It’s great to advance this far again,” said Khe Wei.
“We have been climbing up the world rankings steadily in the past few months, so hopefully another good result in China this week will move us even closer to the top 10.
“Our best was No. 12 and we were never in the top 10 before, so that serves as an extra motivation for us to actually play better.
“After having it easy against the inexperienced young Japanese pair today, we are bracing ourselves for a tough battle against Jinhua-Qianxin. Jinhua was a former world No. 1 with previous partner Bao Yixin.”
But Vivian-Khe Wei have got the better of their mighty Chinese rivals previously – notably their second-round upset win over world No. 4 Wang Xiaoli-Yu Yang en route to winning the bronze in the Incheon Asian Games last year.
Besides Vivian-Khe Wei, mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying were another pair to check into the last four.
The former world No. 3 disposed of Singapore’s Triyachart-Shinta Mulia Sari 22-20, 21-16 in 42 minutes to set up a clash with top seeds Liu Cheng-Bao Yixin.
The world No. 4 fended off a fighting Tan Aik Quan-Lai Pei Jing 21-19, 21-18.
It was also the end of the road for Tan Chee Tean-Shevon Lai Jemie after they were outclassed 21-11, 21-13 by another Chinese pair Wang Yilv-Tang Yuan Ting in the quarter-finals.
Malaysian interest in the men’s doubles have also come to an end after former internationals Lim Khim Wah-Hoon Thien How were shown the exit by Taiwan’s Liao Min-chun-Tseng Min-hao.