If ever a match illustrated the tenacity of the underdog, this was it. In a dramatic third game of a pivotal match between India and Malaysia, Goh Jin Wei – without a win over a top player in over a year, whose recurring health issues have hampered her career, withstood a great comeback from a celebrated opponent to take Malaysia into the quarterfinals of the TotalEnergies BWF Sudirman Cup Finals 2023.
The tie would eventually end in Malaysia’s favour, 5-0, a surprisingly one-sided result in a group predicted to be the ‘Group of Death’. Yet, while the eventual result itself was a whitewash, the third match between Pusarla V Sindhu and Goh produced one of the season’s most memorable contests. While it was on, the tie was still alive, with the Indians looking to Pusarla to inspire a revival.
After a dominant first game, Pusarla fell apart in the second and soon found herself 2-14 down in the third, before implausibly racking up a streak of points that drew her close at 14-15. With her opponent threatening to take the match from a hopeless position, the pressure was all Goh’s, and it would have seemed par for the course had she withered under the spell, but the Malaysian was able to draw from deep within, and instead of clinging on in the rallies, it was she who dictated the pace. Thus, even when Pusarla clawed level at 20-all, Goh’s initiative created the last two points that took her past the finishing line – 3-0 for Malaysia and a place in the quarterfinals.
“I felt so relieved when it got over!” said Goh. “I was lucky that she had a long match yesterday with Tai Tzu Ying and maybe she was a bit tired.
“It’s one of my biggest wins. I just wanted to prove to myself and to those who believed in me.”
Pusarla called her performance one of her great comebacks in recent years.
“It’s disappointing. Trailing and coming back and then losing the last two points, of course it’s disappointing. If I would’ve lost easy it wouldn’t have hurt so much.”
Japan Down Tenacious France
France had a great start against Japan in Group D, with Thom Gicquel/Delphine Delrue beating Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino 29-27 21-16 in the opening encounter, but Japan proved they had the resources to deal with crisis. Kodai Naraoka held firm against Alex Lanier, before Akane Yamaguchi and the doubles pairs saw the Japanese through to the 4-1 result.