Pearly-Thinaah come through 211 shots in one serve to advance

Well-deserved victory: Pearly Tan (right) and M. Thinaah celebrating after beating Japan’s Rena Miyaura-Ayako Sakuramoto in the second round. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

“WINNING the rally felt like winning the match.”

That was how M. Thinaah described her feelings after she and her partner, Pearly Tan, survived the longest rally of 211 shots when they were leading 16-14 in the rubber-game against Japan’s Rena Miyaura-Ayako Sakuramoto in the second-round match at the Malaysian Masters.

The rally lasted more than three minutes.

Pearly-Thinaah displayed patience and strong defence before Pearly ended the rally with her trademark dropshot, bringing the score to 17-14 at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Thinaah threw her racquet to the air while Pearly fell to the ground in sheer happiness.

The world No. 11 Pearly-Thinaah continued to fight hard to triumph 21-17, 18-21, 21-19 in the energy-sapping match against the world No. 21 Japanese pair.

“I also thought that we won after surviving the rally,” said Thinaah.

“I was too excited that it was finally over because it was exhausting and we just wanted it to end fast.

“When it was over, I really needed a break, and I threw the racquet as collecting it from the ground gave me some time to rest.”

Pearly-Thinaah will take on world No. 9 Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota in the quarter-finals today. The Japanese pair have a slight advantage 3-2 in the head-to-head records, but their victories have always alternated.

Based on the pattern of their past meetings, today’s match could fall in the favour of Pearly-Thinaah, if the Malaysians can last another gruelling match.

Pearly-Thinaah outplayed Yuki-Sayaka 21-14, 21-19 in the quarter-finals of last year’s Malaysian Masters and they have the advantage of home crowd.

Pearly is hoping that the alternate victory will continue as they went down 14-21, 19-21 to Yuki-Sayaka in their last meeting, the Indonesia Masters, in January.

However, it will be a challenging match for the Malaysians in terms of their physical condition and stamina as they played three games in 89 minutes, compared to Yuki-Sayaka who defeated their opponents in straight games yesterday.

“Last time they won, and hopefully this time we can win,” said Pearly.

“However, we don’t want to think too much about that.

“Whenever we enter the court, we just give our best and try to enjoy our game play.”

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