PETALING JAYA: Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying have ended Malaysia’s 62-year wait. They have become the first Malaysian mixed doubles pair to reach the final of the prestigious All-England badminton championships since 1955.
The sixth-seeded Peng Soon-Liu Ying ended the gallant run of Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino of Japan with a superb 21-17, 21-15 win in just 39 minutes in the semi-finals at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham yesterday.
Their opponents in the final will be China’s Lu Kai-Huang Yaqiong, who struggled to beat home favourites Chris Adcock-Gabrielle Adcock 19-21, 21-12, 22-20 in a tense 71-minute semi-final.
The last time there was a Malaysian presence in the All-England mixed doubles final was when David Choong combined with England’s June White to finish as runners-up in 1955. The pair however did win the title in 1953.
And now Peng Soon-Liu Ying can claim outright victory for Malaysia if they prevail in today’s final.
On paper, the odds are stacked against the Malaysians as they’ve never beaten the Chinese pair.
The Malaysians have lost three times to the China pair – in the Korean Open and French Open in 2015 and the Australian Open last year.
Peng Soon-Liu Ying’s previou best in the All-England was a semi-final finish in 2012, when they lost to eventual champions Tontowi Ahmad-Lilyana Natsir of Indonesia.
An ecstatic Peng Soon, however, was quick to remind everyone that “the mission is far from over”.
“Liu Ying and I are excited to be in our first All-England final. We played to our strengths to beat the Japanese pair,” said Peng Soon.
“But we still have one more step to go ... hopefully, Liu Ying and I can step up a notch and make it a memorable final. It’s tough ... but we’ll give it a good fight.
Meanwhile, Olympic silver medallists Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong became the latest big names to crash out in one of the most unpredictable All-England series in recent times.
The top seeded Malaysians, who are also the world No. 1, went down 19-21, 21-17, 19-21 to China’s Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen in a one hour and six minutes of the men’s doubles quarter-final match on Friday.
The other big names who had crashed out earlier included women’s doubles top seeds Misaki Matsutomoto-Ayaka Takahashi of Japan (second round); mixed doubles top seeds Zheng Siwei-Chen Qingchen of China (first round); and men’s doubles second seeds Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen of Denmark (first round).
The singles events also saw its fair share of upsets, with Olympic champion Chen Long of China and second seed Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark biting the dust in the early rounds of the men’s event while Olympic champion Carolina Marin of Spain lost to Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in the women’s quarter-finals.