ALOR STAR: National pair Gan Teik Chai-Lin Woon Fui pulled off a stunning win over top seeds and defending champions Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong in a Group B match of the Proton National Grand Prix Finals at the Kedah BA Hall here last night.
It was the first-ever win for Teik Chai-Woon Fui over the highly-rated pair in a competitive match, winning a tightly contested battle 21-19, 19-21, 21-18 in 70 minutes.
Despite the defeat, Kien Keat-Boon Heong could still make it to semis if they win their final group match against Chew Choon Eng-Hong Chien Hun tonight.
“Even when we were trailing 8-11 in the decider, we did not push the panic button and continued to play our defensive game,” said Woon Fui.
“Our key to success was to dictate the play and force our opponents to imitate our style of play. Although there is still a long way to go in the tournament, it feels good to finally get a breakthrough win over them.”
In Group B, second seeds Ong Soon Hock-Tan Bin Shen and veterans Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah booked their places in the semis after chalking up hard-fought victories last night.
The two pairs will battle it out tonight to determine the group winners.
Top seed Julia Wong is through to the women's singles semi-finals after brushing aside Sannatasah Saniru 21-10, 21-12 for her second victory in Group A. Also through to the semi-finals from the same group is Vivian Hoo, who also bagged her second win with a 21-15, 21-18 win over Sonia Cheah.
With both Mew Choo and Lydia Cheah not competing in the women's singles, Julia is the clear favourite to regain the title she won in 2005.
“Despite being the favourite, I am not taking anything for granted as there are players like Anita (Raj Kaur) and Tee Jing Yi who are capable of upsetting the formbook,” said Julia.
“But first, I have to beat Vivian to secure the top spot in the group. I failed to top my group last year and paid a heavy price for it in the semi-final (she lost to Lydia in the group stage and was eliminated by Mew Choo),” said a cautious Julia.
The contest for the top two spots in Group B was thrown wide open after Stephanie Shalini stunned second seed Anita 9-21, 21-13, 21-17.
If Anita beats Jing Yi, who has won her two matches thus far, and Stephanie downs winless Tiffany Currier today, all three players will have two victories each and the qualifiers will be determined on count-back.
In the men's singles, senior players Lee Chong Wei (Group A), Mohd Roslin Hashim (Group C) and Yeoh Kay Bin (Group D) all stayed on course to secure the top place in their groups. They chalked up their second win convincingly yesterday.
However, both second seed Tan Chun Seang and Mohd Arif Latif have an equal chance of securing a first semi-final appearance in the national meet in a winner-takes-all Group B match tonight.
“I have not played against Chun Seang in a senior competition but I am confident of beating him to move into the semi-finals.
“But it will not be an easy task as he is in good form,” said Arif.
* BAM players unless stated
n MEN'S SINGLES
Group A: Lee Chong Wei bt Zairul Hafiz Zainuddin 21-5, 21-4; Chong Wei Feng bt Zulfadli Zulkifli (Sel) 21-16, 21-16.
Group B: Tan Chun Seang bt Vountus Indra Mawan 21-17, 21-15; Mohd Arif Latif bt Mohd Shahrizal Abdul Latip (Sel) 21-9, 21-16.
Group C: Mohd Roslin Hashim (Sel) bt Lim Fang Yang 21-12, 21-14; K.Yogendran bt Iskandar Zulkarnain (Joh) 21-19, 6-21, 21-19.
Group D: Yeoh Kay Bin bt Zulfari Abdullah (Sel) 21-15, 21-11; Liew Daren bt Teo Kok Siang (Joh) 21-15, 19-21, 21-14.
n MEN'S DOUBLES
Group A: Gan Teik Chai-Lin Woon Fui bt Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong 21-19, 19-21, 21-18; Chew Chun Eng-Hong Chieng Hun (Ked) bt Iskandar Zulkarnain-Teo Kok Siang (Joh) 22-20, 21-19.
Group B: Ong Soon Hock-Tan Bin Shen bt Lim Khim Wah-Mak Hee Chun 21-14, 18-21, 21-18; Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah bt Goh Wei Shem-Ong Jian Guo (Kul-Mal) 12-21, 21-16, 21-10.
n WOMEN'S SINGLES
Group A: Julia Wong bt Sannatasah Saniru (Sab) 21-10, 21-12; Vivian Hoo (Kul) bt Sonia Cheah Li-Ya (Kul) 21-15, 21-18.
Group B: Tee Jing Yi bt Tiffany Chase Currier (Mal) 21-17, 21-16; Stephanie Shalini bt Anita Raj Kaur 9-21, 21-13, 21-17.
n WOMEN'S DOUBLES
Group A: Lydia Cheah-Tee Jing Yi bt Amelia Anscelly-Chong Sook Chin 21-19, 21-17; Ng Hui Lin-Goh Liu Ying bt Yeow Mie Xi-Lim Ee Von 21-6, 21-8.
Group B: Fong Chew Yen-Mooi Hing Yau bt Jeslyn Pang-Nairul Suhada 21-14, 21-16; Julia Wong-Anita Raj Kaur bt Ho Bee Ling-Yvonne Ong (Kul-Sab) 23-21, 21-15.
n MIXED DOUBLES
Group A: Lim Khim Wah-Ng Hui Lin bt Mohd Razif Latif-Sabrina Chong 21-12, 21-19; Chang Hun Pin-Lim Yin Loo bt Ong Jian Guo-Yeow Mie Xi 24-22, 21-19.
Group B: Gan Teik Chai-Fong Chew Yen bt Tan Wee Kiong-Woon Khe Wei 18-21, 21-17, 22-20; Mohd Lutfi Zaim-Goh Liu Ying (Pah-Mal) bt Cheah Like Hou-Foong Yi Xin 21-17, 21-14.