ARIF Junaidi-Yap Roy King’s gallant run in the Perodua Malaysia Masters 2024 came to an end as they went down to Denmark’s world No.5 pair, Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen in today’s semifinals. 

On a day that saw two other Malaysian pairs faltered, it was professional player, Lee Zii Jia, despite carrying the effects of yesterday’s cramps, who saved the day for Malaysia after storming into tomorrow’s finale, his second consecutive finals after last week’s Thailand Open. 

Zii Jia shrugged off his muscle cramps in the second game to defeat Angus Ng Kar Long 21-15, 21-17 in 43 minutes, his second consecutive win in two weeks and fourth over the Hong Kong China player over the past eight meetings. 

“Of course, it means a lot to play in the finals on home soil…but for now, I need to calm myself down, get a good rest and be fresh for tomorrow’s battle against Axelsen,” said Zii Jia after the match. 

Viktor Axelsen, who is bidding for his second Malaysia Masters title after first winning it in 2018, had earlier confirmed his final slot after a commanding 21-6, 21-13 win against China’s Lu Guang Zu. 

Malaysia’s professional pair Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Lai shocked fellow national pair Chen Tang Jie/Toh Ee Wei in the mixed doubles semifinals. The husband and wife pair downed the Malaysian top seed pair and will clash against Indonesian third seed pair Rinov Rivaldy/Pitha Haningtyas Mentari (INA) in tomorrow’s finals. 

Despite their semifinal defeat, Arif/Yap, considered their Malaysia Masters campaign as fruitful and rewarding. The Malaysian young pair put up strong resistance against the experienced Danish pair Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen before losing 21-13, 21-19. 

“It was a good match…we were in a lot of trouble in the first game as the Danish pair continued to put pressure on us. But we fought hard in the second game, unfortunately, lost focus towards the end, and also bothered by the drift. It was a great learning experience, battling hard against pairs in the top 10 bracket,” said Arif. 

Much was expected from favourites Pearly Tan-Thinaah Muralitharan, back in action from a six-week break, who performed way below their true strength and were shocked by world No.26 Korean pair, Lee Yu Lim-Shin Seung Chan 21-16, 21-11. 

“We apologise to our fans but at the same, truly appreciate their support and hope they will continue to rally behind our players. This is not the results that we wanted, but the Korean pair played well in piling the pressure on us throughout the match,” said Thinaah. 

Japan’s top seed Rin Iwanaga-Kie Nakanishi lived up to their top billings after winning over Bulgaria’s Stoeva sisters, Gabriele-Stefani 21-14, 21-16 to set up the final clash against Korean Lee Yu Lim-Shin Seung Chan. 

Top seed and favourites Cheng Tang Jie/Toh Ee Wei were also a letdown as they stumbled and lost out at the hands of Malaysian independent pair Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Lai in straight games 21-11, 21-19. It was Goh-Shevon’s second consecutive win over the Tang Jie/Ee Wei after their last victory over the world No.9 pair at the Swiss Open in March. 

In the other semifinals, India’s Pusarla V Sindhu had to endure a three-game battle against Thailand’s Buisanan Ongbamrungphan before sealing the match 13-21, 21-16, 21-12 to storm into her first finals of the year. The Indian women’s singles ace takes on China’s Wang Zhiyi in tomorrow’s finals. 

Semifinals (Results):

Men’s Singles:

[5] Lee Zii Jia (MAS) bt Angus Ng Kar Long (Hong Kong China) 21-15, 21-17 

[1] Viktor Axelsen (DEN) vs Lu Guang Zu (CHN) 21-6, 21-13

Women’s Singles:

[5] Pusarla V Sindhu (IND) vs Busanan Ongbamrungphan (THA) 13-21, 21-16, 21-12

[2] Wang Zhi Yi (CHN) vs [6] Zhang Yi Man (CHN) 21-9, 21-11

Men’s Doubles:

[2] Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (DEN) bt Arif Junaidi-Yap Roy King 21-13, 21-19

Jin Yong-Na Sung Seung (KOR) bt [3] He Ji Ting-Ren Xiang Yu (CHN) 21-19, 21-13

Women’s Doubles:

[1] Rin Iwanaga-Kie Nakanishi (JPN) bt [4] Gabriela Stoeva-Stefani Stoeva (BUL) 21-14, 21-16

[6] Lee Yu Lim-Shin Seung Chan (KOR) bt [2] Pearly Tan-Thinaah Muralitharan (MAS) 21-16, 21-11

Mixed Doubles:

[3] Rinov Rivaldy-Pitha Haningtyas Mentari (INA) bt [2] Mathias Christiansen-Alexandrea Boje (DEN) 26-24, 14-21, 21-18

[4] Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai (MAS) bt [1] Chen Tang Jie-Toh Ee Wei (MAS) 21-11, 21-19

FINALS (26 May)

Men’s Singles:

[1] Viktor Axelsen (DEN) vs [5] Lee Zii Jia (MAS) 

Women’s Singles:

[5] Pusarla V Sindhu (IND) vs [2] Wang Zhi Yi (CHN)

Men’s Doubles:

[2] Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (DEN) vs Jin Yong/Na Sung Seung (KOR)

Women’s Doubles:

[1] Rin Iwanaga/Kie Nakanishi (JPN) vs [6] Lee Yu Lim/Shin Seung Chan (KOR)

Mixed Doubles: 

[3] Rinov Rivaldy/Pitha Haningtyas Mentari (INA) vs [4] Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Lai (MAS)  

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