ASIAN CHAMPS 2007 – Yo-Yeoh Semis

Malaysia’s Yeoh Kay Bin’s attempt to yo-yo his way to yet another victory at the Semi Finals of the 2007 BAC Championship in Johor Bahru was denied by China’s Chen […]

ImageMalaysia’s Yeoh Kay Bin’s attempt to yo-yo his way to yet another victory at the Semi Finals of the 2007 BAC Championship in Johor Bahru was denied by China’s Chen Hong who had come to the Championship eager to prove his worth.

by J Lin reporting live from Bandaraya Stadium, Johor Bahru

For the third consecutive time in this tournament, the 9/16 seed Yeoh had to raise himself from the dead to keep his championship hopes alive. Unlike his previous two tries, in the round of 16 and the quarterfinals, this time his semifinal opponent Chen Hong sent him back to the grave in the tiebreaker.

After being taken down in the first set by a convincing 14-21 and trailing 7-11 at the halftime mark in the second, Yeoh’s chance of a resurrection came when he was still 10-13 down to a much sharper Chen.

A controversial line-call at that very juncture clearly took a stab at Chen’s psyche. Chen was denied of (what seemed like) a point won from his massive smash down the line and that pushed Chen’s button of frustration.

Chen walked up to the umpire with disdain but not only was his attempt to challenge the line call refuted, Chen was also relegated to an object of jeers by the crowd there and then.

That was perhaps the divine assistance Yeoh needed for a revival of his struggling spirit. As Chen, who was already not in tip-top fitness, at that point of the game failed to refocus after the contentious incident and gave away 4 points in a row allowing Yeoh to take the lead at 14-13.

ImageHomeground Advantage?

Throughout the rest of the 2nd set, Yeoh continued collecting points from somewhat suspicious line calls that were in his favour. Chen was seen shaking his head in disbelief each time, as Yeoh in his revived spirit claimed the 2nd set and took the match into a third.

It wasn’t the first time that a controversial line-call in favour of a Malaysian that had unsettled the visiting opponent.

In the women’s singles second round match between Malaysia’s Wong Mew Choo and India’s Murgunde Trupti, a similar contentious line call struck the heel of Trupti who was definitely giving Wong a stretching (not so) good time.

Wong was seen acrobatically doing splits to save the set point Trupti was holding but when the line call incident occurred, which then gave the first set away to Wong, Trupti was unable to regain her composure and produced a halfhearted performance in the second set allowing Wong to win the tie in straight sets.

Coming back to yesterday’s semifinal, it definitely felt like history was about to repeat itself when Yeoh went into the tiebreaker looking more dangerous than ever and confidently taking the halftime lead at 11-6.

Just when the Malaysian appeared to be on course for his third rubber victory, the match took another turn. Chen seemed to find his feet all of a sudden, displaying a string of splendid court craft to level the score at 12-12.

From then on, Chen found his smashing touch while Yeoh slumped into an erratic mode to allow Chen to take the set and the game comfortably at 21-16.

Throughout the match, both players seemed to take pleasure in sending each other to slow-motion dives. In a pre-match interview, Yeoh pointed out that he knew that judging from Chen’s performance in the tournament so far, it was evident that Chen was struggling in speed and agility against his opponents.

But Yeoh, who took an equally treacherous route to arrive at the semis, was unable to up his pace in this game to prevent Chen from unleashing his string of sharp smashes, which was Chen’s main weapon in his quest to silence Yeoh.

“Chen Hong is an attacking player. He trapped me into playing an attacking game, which is my weakness,” said Yeoh in a post-match interview.

In a game of badminton, someone’s got to win while the other loses, what is most important for every defeated player is just to keep learning, which Yeoh clearly did, “I guess I have to start working on my attacking game. But overall I am happy to have come this far.”

So it was yet another close shave for Chen who like Yeoh had to overcome his opponents in the previous two rounds in a yo-yo fashion. But even with surround-sound support, Yeoh couldn’t yo-yo his way a third time while Chen was third time lucky and he will now play Indonesia’s wonder Taufik Hidayat for the 11th time in the much-anticipated men’s singles final.

Finals Line-up

Men’s Singles:
Taufik Hidayat (Indonesia) vs Chen Hong (China)

Women’s Singles:
Lu Lan (China) vs Jiang Yan Jiao (China)

Men’s Doubles:
Lee Wan Wah/Choong Tan Fook (Malaysia) vs Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong (Malaysia)

Women’s Doubles:
Cheng Shu/Zhao Yun Lei (China) vs Yang Wei Zhao Ting Ting (China)

Mixed Doubles:
He Hanbin/Yu Yang (China) vs Xu Chen/Zhao Ting Ting (China)

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