TUC 2010 Quarterfinals – The painful road out of Malaysia’s DEN

It doesn’t take a Dane or a Danish fan to feel sorry for Denmark’s Thomas Cup team, who would probably have avoided yet another early elimination had hosts Malaysia not […]

It doesn’t take a Dane or a Danish fan to feel sorry for Denmark’s Thomas Cup team, who would probably have avoided yet another early elimination had hosts Malaysia not been handed an upset by Japan the day before. After a delectable 5-hour display at the 2010 Thomas Cup quarter-finals, the hosts sent the star-studded European champions packing with a 3-2 victory.

By Jan Lin and Selina Ng, reporting ‘live’ from Kuala Lumpur. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Capitalising on homeground advantage, local heroes and favourites Lee Chong Wei and Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong lived up to their top billing in their respective men’s singles and men’s doubles disciplines by registering straight sets victories over Peter Gade and Carsten Mogensen / Mathias Boe to quickly put Malaysia 2-0 up.

Despite the pressure to deliver the turning point for Denmark, and, despite a trying season of dry spells, Jan O Jorgensen (pictured right) stepped up when it mattered most to defeat Malaysia’s Thomas Cup veteran Wong Choong Hann 22-20, 16-21, 21-18.

An exuberant Jorgensen said after the game: “It’s an amazing feeling to win a point for Denmark and I would say this is one of the biggest things in my career. I felt pressure from the crowd and also my teammates. They know that I have a high level but the crucial thing is that I play to that level. I have a lot of respect for Choong Hann. I watched him play when I was young. There are just no words to describe my feelings now.”

Jorgensen’s coach, Kenneth Jonassen, played a crucial role in diffusing the ticking time-bomb buried underneath the façade of a delightful charming young man, who was visibly and understandably frustrated by contentious line calls, especially during the tiebreaker. Jorgensen had trailed for most of the third game only to steal the win at the eleventh hour.

“It is good to see Jan at his best again,” Jonassen shared. “Choong Hann played very well today and I’m very proud to see Jan come back and win it. It shows a lot of character to come back from behind.”

Like Jorgensen, the semi-retired Wong Choong Hann hasn’t had a smooth-sailing time at the 2010 Finals so far either. Both players were coming off surprise defeats in their final round robin match – Jorgensen to Germany’s Dieter Domke and Choong Hann to Japan’s Sho Sasaki.

“I was quite upset with myself for not winning the first game,” shared Choong Hann, who had held game point at 20-17 in the opener. “Both of us tried to control each other, but in a game anything can happen. Of course he is much younger than me and therefore he has much more power in the end. But this is not an excuse.  He just played better.”

With a fairytale finish in sight, Denmark soon levelled up 2-2 courtesy of their veteran men’s doubles pair of Lars Paaske / Jonas Rasmussen, who came from behind to defeat scratch pair Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif / Hoon Thien How (pictured left) in scores of 24-26, 21-12, 21-19. This result left Denmark’s Joachim Persson or Malaysia’s Hafiz Hashim to break the deadlock.

The suave Dane appeared the more confident of the two but once Hafiz found his rhythm, nothing Persson did could tame the crouching tiger in Hafiz.

It was apparent that Hafiz, who eventually won the tie for Malaysia in scores of 21-12, 21-10 and in just 31 minutes, was executing touches that were at a higher level than that of the Dane even though the pair were tied 2-2 in their head-to-head, with Persson winning their last battle in 2009.

Deservingly soaked in his zero-to-hero moment, Hafiz (pictured right) said: “This win will boost the team’s confidence in the semi-finals against China. I like to play the third singles role actually.  If I lose the whole team loses, but if I win the feeling of satisfaction is indescribable.”

“Hafiz played really well but I fought all I can,” Persson said. “He played a very safe game and managed to retrieve most of my shots. It’s quite annoying that it has to be me who loses the last match, but I feel that I could not have done much more, he just played very well.”

When asked to assess the hosts’ chances against defending champions China in the semi-finals, Persson is having his money on the underdogs. Persson said: “I know that everyone says that China will win the Cup but I hope that Malaysia can go all the way to win it. Yeah, China is the favourite but there’s always a first time for a favourite to lose and I hope Malaysia can do it.”

The 2010 Thomas Cup semi-finals will be played this Friday with Malaysia taking on China and Indonesia facing off against Japan.

Badzine is reporting ‘live’ at the 2010 Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Kuala Lumpur! Check back for our daily news updates and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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