KUNSHAN: Malaysia's challenge in the Thomas Cup Finals ended with a 3-2 defeat to Denmark in the semi-finals.
Chong Wei Feng failed to become the hero for the team when he went down 15-21, 18-21 to Emil Holst in the decider.
Earlier, Lee Chong Wei and Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong delivered the first two points but Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin and Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong lost their respective matches.
Denmark will meet Indonesia in the final on Sunday.
It is Malaysia's sixth defeat to Denmark in their total 17 encounters in the world team event since the tournament’s inception in 1948.
At the last Finals in New Delhi in 2014, Malaysia led by Lee Chong Wei beat the Danes 3-1 in the quarter-finals.
Starsport will provide match by match reports. Stay tuned.
7pm: Lee Chong Wei bt Viktor Axelsen 23-21, 21-18 (54 minutes)
First game: What an explosive opening game! Chong Wei had to dig deep into reserve to fend off a fast attacking Viktor. The Malaysian had a commanding 18-11 lead but the former world junior champion charged back with flurry of smashes and tight net play to level the score. Fortunately, Chong Wei prevailed with a 23-21 win.
Second game: It was a tight match in the second game too but Chong Wei stayed in control. Axelsen kept snapping at his heels with his ferocious attacking game but it did not break Chong Wei’s resolve. They traded point for point but Chong Wei prevailed. Credit should be given to the Dane for his spirited display.
8.12pm: Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong bt Mathias Boe-Mads Conrad-Petersen 21-18, 21-18 (47 minutes)
First game: V Shem-Wee Kiong got off to a brilliant start, racing to a commanding lead but it was not too long before the Danes warmed up and got their acts together. They piled up pressure to break the rhythm of the Malaysians. V Shem-Wee Kiong’s defence wavered and they dropped a few points too due to unforced errors but fortunately, they hung on to seal the opener with a 21-18 win.
Second game: It went in a similar fashion in the second game. The Malaysians got off to a huge 7-1 lead before the Danes stepped up the gear. This time, though, V Shem-Wee Kiong had a better grip of the game. Wee Kiong was fantastic at the front while V Shem did his job well to hammer down smashes from the baseline. Despite the continuous assault from the Danes, the Malaysians stayed focused to accomplish the job and give the team a superb 2-0 lead.
9.07pm: Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin lost to Hans-Kristian Vittinghus 18-21, 18-21 (46 minutes)
First game: A pumped up Iskandar raised a great hope for an early celebration when he reeled off to a 6-1 lead but the old-hand Vittinghus had other plans. The Dane stepped up the gas and broke the momentum of Iskandar with a determined show of play and leveled the score at 14-14. They were locked in a close duel but it was Vittinghus, who pulled away confidently with well calculated moves for a 21-18 win.
Second game: Motivated by the opening game win, Vittinghus went on the offensive and raced to a 11-5 lead against a jaded Iskandar. The Malaysian knew trouble was ahead of him but there was nothing much he could do against the fired-up Dane. His smashes were not as sharp and several unforced errors added on to his misery. He tried to turn things around but his late comeback ended in vain as Vittinghus sealed it to save the tie for Denmark.
10.02pm: Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong lost to Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen 21-10, 8-21, 13-21 (59 minutes)
First game: Veterans Kien Keat-Boon Heong were fast and furious in the opening game. They combined well to bombard their opponents with stinging smashes and kept their game clean without much errors. Without solid defence and shoddy attacking shots, the Danes were easy meat for the pumped up Malaysians. Kien Keat-Boon Heong took only 15 minutes to wrap up the game with a 21-10 win.
Second game: It was a total disaster for Kien Keat-Boon Heong in the second game. The transformed Danes went on the assault from the start and with renewed determination and sheer confidence, they tore apart the Malaysians. Kien Keat-Boon Heong had no answers to their opponents’ quick change in tactics and went out in a whimper.
Third game: Kien Keat-Boon Heng did well to hold up against the determined Astrup-Rasmussen at the start of the game but it did not last long. The Danes maintained quality in their attacking shots all the way through while Kien Keat-Boon Heong ran out of power and stamina. Their weak returns to the net, shaky service and inaccurate placings did not help and eventually, they ran out gas.
11.10pm: Chong Wei Feng lost to Emil Holst 15-21, 18-21 (51 minutes)
First game: Hope was high on Wei Feng to deliver the winning point but he dished out a below-par performance. While Holst stayed steady and often unleashed cross-court smashes, Wei Feng could not navigate himself out of trouble and kept sending the shuttle to the net, giving away just too many easy points. With limp performances, it did not come as a surprise when he surrendered the game 21-15.
Second game: Wei Feng just blew it. He did well to bounce back after the poor first game but just could not stop a fired-up and steady Holst. Half way through the game, Wei Feng stepped up a gear but it all ended in vain as he could not finish off the game. Disappointment was written all over Wei Feng’s face as Holst jumped in sheer celebration with his team-mates after scoring 21-18.