Malaysia served up a delicious starter but the meal itself ran pretty thin. And as the Koreans feasted on the 3-1 score to make the title round of the TotalEnergies BWF Sudirman Cup Finals 2023, the Malaysians were left with mulling over the leftovers.
The start couldn’t have been better for the Malaysians. Chen Tang Jie and Toh Ee Wei crackled with energy in the mixed doubles opener against Seo Seung Jae and Chae Yu Jung, with one spectacular point after another handing them the lead. Chen and Toh had provided the breakthrough for their team against the more favoured Mathias Christiansen and Alexandra BØje on Friday; the signs were that they were on the same path against Korea.
However, it was all downhill from that peak. Seo and Chae settled into their game, picking holes on the Malaysians’ side with smart tactical choices, while Chen and Toh didn’t aid their own cause with some unsteady play. The third game was a disaster for the Malaysians and the Koreans had gained the vital opening match.
“They were quite bold in the beginning and we were down, but as they are young and inexperienced, they made mistakes and gave us a chance,” said Chae.
Chen blamed his own mistakes and hurriedness for the loss.
“We played them at the German Open so we were familiar with their style. In the second game they changed strategy and we couldn’t come back. I made a lot of simple mistakes, and that continued in the third game. We knew they’d push the speed, but still I wasn’t stable. We weren’t confident enough and we were too rushed to kill the point.”
Kim and Na, who made their international debut at this tournament, came up with the goods. The Koreans were exceptional in stonewalling the Malaysians’ attack, while snatching winners with well-timed forays to the net. Nothing that Chia or Soh did could turn the tide, and the Koreans quickly had the tie in the bag at 21-17 21-16.
“We played aggressive, we tried to break their rhythm, but they played with confidence and no pressure,” said Soh. “We wanted to play our best, and tried to keep our momentum but they played better than us in the first two shots, and their defence was very good.”
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