It is quite touching to watch former national players – Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (men’s doubles) and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (mixed doubles) – helping out each other in the on-going Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters – competing in their first international tournament to begin life as professionals.
The two pairs quit the national team earlier this month and they are without a coach to help them out in the USD150,000 tournament at the Huamark Indoor Stadium in Bangkok.
First men’s doubles top seeds Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong acted as ‘coaches’ for Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying in their mixed doubles semi-final match against Hong Kong’s Tang Chun Man-Ng Tsz Yau.
Later it was Peng Soon-Liu Ying’s turn to sit as ‘coaches’ when V Shem-Wee Kiong took to the court for their semi-final match against Akira Koga-Taichi Saito of Japan.
Interestingly, both pairs turned winners by reaching the final in their respective events after clearing their respective hurdles – thanks to the close bond of friendship.
Defending champions Peng Soon-Liu Ying are one step away from retaining their mixed doubles title as they cruised into the final with a straight game 21-16, 21-15 win over Chun Man-Ng Tsz Yau in 35 minutes.
The Rio Olympics silver medallists will meet Thai second seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai for the crown. The Thai hopes brushed aside compatriots and sixth seeds Niphitphon Phuangphuapet-Savitree Amitrapai 21-18, 21-16 in an all-Thailand semi-finals.
V Shem-Wee Kiong also turned in a delightful performance to reach the final and the top seeds were also in cruise mode as they outplayed Japan newcomers kira Koga-Taichi Saito 21-12, 21-10 in only 26 minutes.
The Malaysians will play fifth seeds Lu Ching Yao-Yang Po Han of Chinese Taipei for the title. Ching Yao-Po Han denied an all-Malaysia final when they stopped Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani 17-21, 21-13, 21-11.
The men’s singles final will be Chinese legend and top seed Lin Dan and Singapore’s Malaysian-born Loh Kean Yew.
Lin Dan needed three games to stop his eight seeded compatriot Lu Guangzu 21-11, 6-21, 21-18 in a 53-minute match. Unseeded Kean Yew continued his impressive run despite coming through the qualifying round reach the final.
Kean Yew, who hails from Penang, ousted Frenchman Brice Leverdez 14-21, 21-10, 21-14 in 57 minutes – his second scalp of a seeded player, having beaten sixth seed Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese Taipei 21-19, 20-22, 21-11 in the quarter-finals. RIZAL ABDULLAH