Thu, 30 May 2024



Only Aaron-Soh remain in semifinals
Published on: Sunday, March 17, 2024
By: Bernama
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Only Aaron-Soh remain in semifinals
Aaron (front) and Soh in action during the quarterfinals.
Kuala Lumpur: National top men’s doubles pair, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik are the only Malaysians left standing in the All England 2024, as they smashed their way to the semi-finals in Birmingham, Friday.

The 2022 world champions, put up a stellar performance show by outplaying Indonesia’s Muhammad Shohibul Fikri-Bagas Maulana, 21-14, 21-11 in just 31 minutes during the quarter-finals of the world’s oldest badminton tournament in Utilita Arena Birmingham.

The victory saw the fifth seeds pair maintain their unbeaten run against Muhammad Shohibul-Bagas to 5-0.

Standing in Aaron-Wooi Yik’s way in the semi-finals are Taiwanese duo, Lee Jhe-Huei-Yang Po-Hsuan, who disposed Supak Jomkoh-Kittinupong Kedren of Thailand, 21-13, 21-17.

Meanwhile, it was the end of the road for professional men’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia as he was shown the exit by India’s Lakshya Sen.

Zii Jia had only himself to blame as he squandered the first set win, 22-20 and faltered in the subsequent sets, 16-21, 19-21, to his opponent.

The 25-year-old shuttler was not the only one sent packing as another Malaysian representative, national number one women’s doubles pair, Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah were also booted out from the last eight, earlier Friday.

Pearly-Thinaah suffered a rubber set loss to Rena Miyaura-Ayako Sakuramoto of Japan, 21-11, 18-21, 18-21.

Meanwhile, the performance displayed by Zii Jia seems to be improving despite his journey coming to an end in Birmingham.

Former national player, Datuk James Selvaraj said Zii Jia’s defeat at the hands of Lakshya could have been avoided if the 25-year-old had wisely utilised his smashing strength to ‘finish off’ his opponent.

Although leading in the first set, 22-20, the world number 10 player failed to maintain the winning streak and was subsequently defeated in the next two sets by Lakshya, 16-21, 19-21.

“I saw Lakshya playing it simple, his smashes weren’t that powerful, but Zii Jia with his height and perhaps the strongest smash among players at the All England 2024 didn’t use his advantage yesterday.

“Why didn’t Zii Jia use his smash? Opponents must surely fear his smash. This is a decision that is very detrimental, I don’t know how he lost because I thought he could advance to the final and lift the title,” James  said when contacted by Bernama.

James, puzzled by Zii Jia’s elimination, acknowledged his belief that the world number 10 player would clinch his second personal title at the oldest badminton championship in the world after the 2021 edition, when he stylishly defeated the world number six player from Japan, Kodai Naraoka in the opening round and former 2021 world champion, Loh Kean Yew from Singapore in the second round.

“He definitely played much better in All England 2024 (so far this year) because he managed to overcome seasoned players like Naraoka and Kean Yew.

“Based on the game against Naraoka, particularly with the Japanese player who enjoys playing rallies, but Zii Jia often uses his smashing strength to beat his opponent, but it was different when facing Lakshya,” he said.

Throughout his five appearances in individual championships this year, the former Badminton Asia Championship (BAC) 2022 champion has advanced to the quarter-finals three times including at the 2024 All England Championships, while being eliminated in the early rounds, in the first round twice including at the Malaysian Open last January.

Therefore, James, the former High Performance Director of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) hopes that the Kedah-born player can maintain his momentum and ultimately clinch gold at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Zii Jia has a bright chance to make his second appearance on the Olympic stage after Tokyo 2020 as he currently ranks 10th in the ‘Race to Paris’ standings with 66,016 points.

A country can only have two representatives in the individual events, if both players are within the top 16 rankings in the “Race to Paris” rankings before the qualification period ends on April 28.

Another national singles player, Ng Tze Yong, however, dropped out of the top 16 rankings in the ‘Race to Paris’ when he had to take a break from any tournaments after undergoing surgery on his back, recently. – Bernama

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