Pearly-Thinaah pull off unbelievable feat against Korean world No. 5 to reach final

Let’s go all the way: Pearly Tan and M. Thinaah celebrate after overcoming South Korea’s Jeong Na-eun-Kim Hye-jeong in the semi-finals. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah appear to be unstoppable at the Malaysian Masters after staging an amazing fightback against South Korea’s world No. 5 Jeong Na-eun-Kim Hye-jeong to reach the final yesterday.

Trailing 2-11 in the second game of the semi-final, the national women’s doubles pair seemed to be running out of steam.

Having won the first game 21-19, Pearly-Thinaah, however, unbelievably clawed their way back to score a sensational 23-21 victory to reach their first final of the year at the Axiata Arena yesterday.

Roared on by the passionate home fans, the world No. 11 pair simply refused to give in and hit the Koreans for a six in a match lasting 92 minutes.

Pearly-Thinaah became the first home pair to make it to the final of a home tournament (Malaysian Masters and Open) since Datuk Lee Chong Wei captured the Open title in 2018.

It was another classic fighting performance from Pearly-Thinaah who had fought their hearts out to overcome Japan’s Rena Miyaura-Ayako Sakuramoto 21-17, 18-21, 21-19 in 89 minutes and their teammates Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota 13-21, 21-19, 21-16 in 111 minutes in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.

“Reaching the final feels like a dream for me,” said Pearly.

“The past few matches were really tiring but all the fans gave us the motivation and extra energy to go through all this.

“When we were trailing far behind in the second game, we just told each other to make every point count and be more patient.

“We won the first game, so this strategy worked for us.”

It was also sweet revenge for Pearly-Thinaah, who had lost to Na-eun-Hye-jeong in the All-England last year.

“We lost to them last year but the trust between me and Thinaah is stronger than before.

“We hope to continue this momentum.”

Pearly-Thinaah now have the opportunity to become the first homesters to capture the Malaysian Masters title since mixed doubles pair Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing’s triumph in 2017.

Standing in their way in the final today is another Korean pair and world No. 6 Baek Ha-na-Lee So-hee.

Ha-na-So-hee defeated Japan’s two-time world champions Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara 21-19, 21-14 in the other semi-final match.

Based on the head-to-head record, Pearly-Thinaah hold a slight advantage over the Koreans as they beat them in their only meeting so far at last October’s French Open.

“We beat them last year but they had just formed a partnership together then,” said Pearly.

“Now they are more experienced and will be very tough opponents.

“We just want to prepare well and focus on our own game.”

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