* V Shem-Wee Kiong one step away from winning their first Open title
* Peng Soon-Liu Ying in mixed doubles final
* End of the road for Zulfadli in men’s singles
Malaysia’s No 1 doubles pair Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong came back from a set down to defeat former national teammates Hoon Thien How-Lim Khim Wah 15-21, 21-19, 21-18 in the semi-finals in a 75 minute thriller in the semi-finals in the USD50,000 Russian Open Grand Prix in Vladivostok on Saturday.
Standing in the way of the Malaysians from winning their first Open title are home favourites and top seeds Vladimir Ivanov-Ivan Sozonov, ranked No 11 in the world. The Russians, who were beaten in the semi-finals last year, have been in great form in Vladivostok but were fully stretched by India’s Manu Attri-B. Sumeeth Reddy before prevailing with a 19-21, 21-7, 21-16 in 43 minutes.
Second seeds V Shem-Wee Kiong, No 17 in the world, are the reigning Commonwealth Games champions and winning the Russian title will be shot in the arm for the Malaysians who are preparing for next month’s World Championships in Jakarta. Their inconsistency has been a big drawback.
There was more delight for the Malaysian camp when former World No 3 Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying marched into the final after third seeds Vitalij Durkin-Nina Vislova of Russia through injury. The Malaysians won a hard fought first set 22-20 in 23 minute before the Russians conceded defeat.
The Malaysian pair are eyeing a place in the 2016 Rio Olympics and hope to improve on their current world ranking (No 41) and adding the Russian title will stand in good stead in their chase for ranking points.
In the final Peng Soon-Liu Ying will meet Japan’s Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino, who breezed past India’s Akshay Dewalkar-Prajakta Sawant 21-10, 21-8 in only 23 minutes.
Malaysia’s campaign in the men’s singles was cut short when former world and Asian junior champion Zulfadli Zulkifli failed to get past unknown Estonian Raul Must who staved off a strong challenge from the Malaysian in the second to win 21-12, 22-20 in a 43 minute match.
Zulfadli, who will play in the World Championships next month, was expected to beat the Estonian but his lack of sustaining power once again stood out like a sore thumb and the writing is on the wall of what is in store for the Malaysian in Jakarta.
The 28-year-old Must will face top seed and favourite Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia who thumped India’s third seed Ajay Jayaram 21-17, 21-7 in 32 minutes.
RESULTS (ALL SEMI-FINAL)
Tommy Sugiarto (Ina) beat Ajay Jayaram (Ind) 21-17, 21-7
Raul Must (Est) beat Zulfadli Zulkifli (Mas) 21-12, 22-20
Vladimir Ivanov-Ivan Sozonov (Rus) beat Manu Attri-B. Sumeeth Reddy (Ind) 19-21, 21-7, 21-16
Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (Mas) beat Hoon Thien How-Lim Khim Wah (Mas) 15-21, 21-19, 21-18
Maya Matsumoto (Jpn) beat Chisato Hoshi (Jpn) 21-18, 21-18
Kristina Gavnholt (Cze Rep) beat Evgeniya Kosetskaya (Rus) 21-19, 21-15
Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (Mas) beat Vitalij Durkin-Nina Vislova (Rus) 22-20, 0-0 (rtd) Davletova (Rus) 21-15, 21-19
Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino (Jpn) beat Akshay Dewalkar-Prajakta Sawant (Ind) 21-10, 21-8