Pearly-Thinaah bow out in Malaysia Masters semi-finals

Photo: Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: Top national women’s doubles pair Pearly Tan and M. Thinaah have extended their 18-month title drought in World Tour tournaments after bowing out of the 2024 Malaysia Masters semi-finals on Saturday (May 25).

World No 13 pair Pearly and Thinaah, who last lifted the French Open title in October 2022, suffered a 16-21, 11-21 defeat to sixth seeds Lee Yu Lim and Shin Seung Chan of South Korea in a 45-minute battle at the Axiata Arena.

Lee and Shin will face top seeds Rin Iwanaga and Kie Nakanishi of Japan in the final.

The Japanese pair beat Gabriela Stoeva and Stefani Stoeva of Bulgaria 21-14, 21-16 in another semi-final.

Pearly and Thinaah, last edition’s runners-up, had previously beaten the Koreans during their only encounter at the Japan Masters last year.

However, they were stunned by the Koreans’ improved speed in Thursday's match.

"Physically, everything is good, but strategy-wise, we need to work on it. Their smashes were forceful, making them hard to counter with good placements. Actually, we were quite excited to be back on court because it has been quite a long time since the Asian Championship in early April," Pearly said after the match.

"The positive thing is, we had a lot more communication on court. We discussed with each other even when things went wrong. I think this is a good takeaway from this tournament. We have a few days until the next tournament, so we just want to be more consistent," she added.

Thinaah echoed her teammate, emphasising the importance of communication and working on each other’s strategies and focus ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics from July 26 to Aug 11.

"It’s not the result we expected, but the opponents also played a good game today. Because it’s only us on the court, we need to let each other know our feelings and what’s happening on court. We hope to keep this communication going and even improve it while working on ourselves," Thinaah said.

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medalists are scheduled to play in next week’s Singapore Open and Indonesia Open.

Meanwhile, two-time Malaysian Masters women’s singles champion (2013, 2016) PV Sindhu is one win away from ending a two-year title drought.

She will face reigning Asian champion and second seed Wang Zhi Yi of China in the final on Sunday (May 26).

World No 15 Sindhu, who last won the Singapore Open in July 2022, came back from a set down to eliminate Busanan Ongbamrungphan of Thailand 13-21, 21-16, 21-12 in the semi-finals.

Zhi Yi had earlier defeated compatriot Zhang Yi Man 21-19, 21-11.

Sindhu, the 2019 world champion, said ending the title drought will be crucial in boosting her confidence ahead of the Paris Olympics, having defeated Zhi Yi twice in their three previous meetings.

"I hope to win this title for the third time, but I can’t be overconfident because Zhi Yi is a very good player. The crowd has been fantastic, cheering for me.

"I am very thankful for them, and I hope for the same support tomorrow.

"Tomorrow is not going to be easy. I need to go back, recover and be prepared. I need to give my 100% because winning this will give me a lot of confidence,” she added. - Bernama

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