Tai, Intanon in Title Bout – Day 5: Perodua Malaysia Masters 2018

Tai Tzu Ying and Ratchanok Intanon set up a final at the Perodua Malaysia Masters with gritty displays in the Women’s Singles semi-finals today.

Tai staged an escape act from four match points down against Spain’s Carolina Marin, while Intanon held off the indefatigable world No.2 Akane Yamaguchi (Japan); both were marathon matches that went past 70 minutes.

Tai (featured image), renowned for her skilful strokeplay, showed the stubborn side to her character in fighting back from the dead against Marin in a dramatic first semi-final.

Marin dominated throughout the third game, and with leads of 16-8 and 20-16, the Spaniard had all but ensured her place in the final. Uncharacteristically, however, at the very end the Spaniard betrayed nerves – a rushed service return, a misjudgement and a long lob helping Tai draw level, followed by a couple of timid shots that handed the match to the world No.1 at 12-21 21-15 23-21 – her fifth straight win over the Olympic champion.

“I’m very angry with myself, because it was important to keep calm and think about what I had to do instead of thinking about the scores – that was a mistake,” rued Marin. “I changed my game when I was ahead. I have to be more patient and try to play rallies until she makes the mistake. I have changed many things, now I’m not 100 percent, I will be 100 percent for the All England, but I think I’m doing quite good right now.”

The other semi-final was just as thrilling, with Intanon’s breezy style pitted against the stodgy retrieving of Yamaguchi. The Thai kept her chin up despite falling behind twice in the decider, and worked her way back in eschewing risky shots and sticking with a disciplined display that helped her win the rallies.

“In the first game the side was easier to play on and I had to win that game,” said Intanon, following her 21-15 16-21 21-19 victory. “I tried to hold back my shots and not push too early. She kept retrieving everything, but I tried not to worry and to think about the next point.”

Intanon expected a close final against Tai Tzu Ying: “She also is in good form, she made a good comeback today. We play the same style, we can anticipate each other shots.”

Nishimoto versus Axelsen

It will be a faceoff between Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto and Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen in the Men’s Singles final.

Nishimoto took advantage of an uneven performance by Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus and helped himself to a 21-14 21-19 victory, despite having to clamber out of big deficits twice in the second game.

“It’s quite disappointing,” rued Vittinghus. “Compared to my level the other days… I made too many mistakes, and I didn’t control the drift in the hall. I had a good feeling about controlling the shuttle, but today that feeling was gone. Today he played more of a rallying style, he wasn’t using a lot of powerful smashes. It was quite clever, and he was quite aggressive at the front court.”

His compatriot Viktor Axelsen, though, made no mistake in decimating home hope Liew Daren, needing just 36 minutes to complete the victory (21-15 21-11).

Pedersen/Juhl in Final

Denmark will also have a shot at the Women’s Doubles title – Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl progressing into the final where they face Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan (China).

Chen/Jia repeated their World Championships final verdict against Japan’s Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota, while Pedersen/Rytter Juhl staved off a strong comeback from Korea’s Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan to close out the semi-final in straight games: 21-15 21-18.

“Tomorrow it will be a tough match against the World champions,” said Pedersen. “We will try to see if we can find some spots on the court where we can push them so they don’t… its about being ahead, sometimes we feel they’re one step ahead. Tomorrow we will see if we can be even or one step ahead.

“It’s about changing tactics during the match,” added her partner. “We have to make a good plan, instead of them changing the tactics first, where then we have to adapt. Hopefully we can find some good solutions. Today it was too easy for us in the first and first half of the second. When you’re leading so much, you want to end the game as fast as possible. You don’t want to, but you change a bit of tactics, so that’s why they got so close.”

Goh/Tan Come Good

Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong ensured home interest for the finals, as they outplayed Chinese Taipei’s Chen Hung Ling/Wang Chi-Lin 21-16 21-17. Standing in their way tomorrow will be young Indonesians Fajar Alfian/Muhammad Rian Ardianto, who are bidding to win their first tournament of this level after surprising Denmark’s Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding in three games.

The Mixed Doubles will feature China’s Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong against the pair that won the Denmark Open – Hong Kong’s Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet.

Zheng/Huang overwhelmed Indonesia’s Hafiz Faisal/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja in 29 minutes, while Tang/Tse had to battle for an hour before overcoming local pair Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Jemie Lai 14-21 21-12 21-13.

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