Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin justify Thomas Cup spot by smashing into semis

Score to settle: Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani’s semi-final clash in the Asian Championships today with Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik is a repeat of their 2022 clash in the last four which the former won.

PETALING JAYA: A brief split in partnership seemed to have worked wonders for men’s doubles pair Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani.

World No. 19 Sze Fei-Izzuddin have finally earned the right to represent Malaysia in the Thomas Cup Finals.

And buoyed by the selection, they went on to secure their spot in the semi-finals of the Asian Championships after coming from behind to outplay Olympic Games gold medallists Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin of Taiwan 19-21, 21-19, 21-19 in a thrilling match in Ningbo, China, yesterday.

Sze Fei-Izzuddin had been going great guns in the tournament. They had dismantled world champions Kang Min-hyuk-Seo Seung-jae of South Korea but caught a lucky break in the second round when China’s He Jiting-Ren Xiangyu retired after the first game.

Sze Fei-Izzuddin were split up last year by national coaching director Rexy Mainaky after hitting a plateau. Izzuddin was paired up with Mohd Haikal Nazri in March last year, while Sze Fei was combined with Choong Hon Jian.

However, in May, Rexy brought them back together and they have been on fire since, and even won the US Open, Kaohsiung Masters, and Abu Dhabi Masters last year.

The duo will face another Thomas Cup-bound pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik in an all-Malaysian semi-final, assuring one spot for the country in the final.

All-England runners-up Aaron-Wooi Yik made their way into the semi-finals after winning against China’s Liu Yuchen-Ou Xuanyi 21-14, 21-15 in the quarter-finals yesterday.

The clash at the semi-finals today is a repeat of the 2022 Asian meet semis when Aaron-Wooi Yik got the better of Sze Fei-Izzuddin but lost to Indonesia’s Pramudya Kusumawardana-Yeremia Rambitan in the final.

Aaron-Wooi Yik have also been named for the Thomas Cup Finals, along with Haikal who will be making his debut at the tournament in Chengdu, China, from April 27-May 5.

Aaron gave the thumbs-up for the Thomas Cup team line-up.

“I think we have a good line-up and we are ready to go (challenge for honours),” said Aaron.

While Sze Fei-Izzuddin and Aaron-Wooi Yik justified their Finals selection, the journey for Lee Zii Jia came to a dramatic end in Ningbo as he suffered a devastating 11-21, 6-21 loss to world No. 5 Jonatan Christie in just 34 minutes in the quarter-finals.

Coach Tan Bin Shen does want his charges to get distracted.

“It’s good to see both Thomas Cup-bound pairs enter semi-finals. The tournament is still ongoing, though, so I hope they’ll stay focused in the game,” said Bin Shen.

Meanwhile, Rexy believes that they have named the best team for the Thomas Cup.

“Our players will without doubt give their best in China and will be determined to prove themselves and deliver strong performances,” he added.

The women’s team will be led by professional shuttler Goh Jin Wei, who will be the most experienced player in the team.

As expected, the Badminton Association of Malaysia decided to give Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah a break, so that they can focus on the Olympic Games in Paris.

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