MALAYSIA OPEN 2015 R16 – Lin Dan at it again!

Lin Dan is in the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Open for only the second time in the Superseries era.  Meanwhile Malaysians still have one home pair to cheer for on […]

Lin Dan is in the quarter-finals of the for only the second time in the era.  Meanwhile Malaysians still have one home pair to cheer for on Friday.

By Mior Muzaffar Mior Dahalan, Badzine Correspondent live in Kuala Lumpur.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

The most anticipated match of the day was easily the match between world no. 3 Lin Dan and H. S. Prannoy (pictured below) from India.  Lin Dan may have won the World Championship title in Kuala Lumpur but that was nearly eight years ago and he has only played in three of the eight editions of the Malaysia Open Superseries, ceding a walkover in his only quarter-final appearance.

The fans were clearly supportive of the great Chinese legend and cheered on his every shot.  The first game was a tame event as the match took some time unfolding.  Prannoy tried his best to match Lin Dan’s play but unfortunately it was in vain as Lin Dan finished the game strongly to take the first one 21-15.

In the second game, it was a similar story as Prannoy was always trailing the great Lin Dan and it seemed that Lin Dan always had the upper hand throughout the game and had that extra gear to spare in winning this match 21-15, 21-14.

Lin Dan (pictured top) was asked later whether winning the Malaysian Super series event would be his desire this year, considering this is one title that is missing from his majestic collection of high profile tournaments and titles including 2 Olympic and 5 World titles: “I have won the Olympics, World titles, the Thomas Cup and Sudirman Cup, but I will try my best to win here.

“I consider this match against Prannoy as my first my match here as I only played 2 points yesterday and won,” said Lin, referring to the walkover conceded by Tommy Sugiarto while the latter was trailing 0-2 against Lin in the first game of their first round match.  “He [Prannoy] was not an easy player to play against.  I think he beat Jorgensen the last time they played, so he is a good fighter.

“I think other countries such as India have produced a lot of good players, so I have to keep my focus and train well to keep up.”

Smooth advance for World Champion

Earlier on the same court, reigning World and All England Champion Carolina Marin (pictured) kept her cool and won her match against Iris Wang from USA quite comfortably with the score 21-15, 21-19.  Carolina was never behind her opponent throughout the game and breeze through to quarter-final stage to meet Cheung Ngan Yi from Hong Kong.

Asked afterwards what would be her target this year, Marin said, “I am focusing on defending my World title later this and only then will I shift my focus to the Olympics next year.

“My feeling after winning the All England this year, on top of winning the World title last year, was happy that all my training and hard work had paid off.  And this is good for the badminton in Spain and even the TV crew and media were waiting at the airport to congratulate me after winning the Worlds last year.”

On the subject of becoming the No.1 ranked player in the world, she replied, “I don’t think it is important.  That is secondary.  I just want to concentrate on one tournament at a time.”

In the quarter-finals, Marin and Lin Dan will be facing the players who caused the biggest second round upsets in their respective disciplines.  Lin is against compatriot Tian Houwei, who beat India Open winner Kidambi Srikanth.  Marin’s final eight opponent Cheung Ngan Yi (pictured), meanwhile, had to go through the qualifier and surprised everyone to reach this stage of the women’s single event with an impressive victory over German Open champion and world #4 Sung Ji Hyun.

Rooting for the home team

The distinction of eliciting the loudest cheers of the night belongs to the women’s doubles match involving Malaysia’s Vivian Hoo and Woon Khe Wei (pictured below).  This reigning Commonwealth Games champions won a thrilling rubber against the Indonesian pair Anggia Shitta Awanda and Mahadewi Istirani Ni Ketut with the score 21-9, 18-21, 21-18.

The first game was a quick and easy one for the Malaysians but the next two games were far from easy as they were hard and taxing but the Malaysian pair triumphed after the score were tied at 17-all in the third game.  The home crowd finally has something to cheer for as this pair is the sole representative of the host country in the quarter-final stage.

“I think we were too confident after easily winning the first game,” said Hoo after the match, “and our opponents had nothing to lose, so they really did have a go at us and win the second game.  Luckily, we managed to hang on and win the match.”

Woon Khe Wei explained further, “Our next opponents will most likely be the Chinese pair.  I think they have just paired together so maybe we have a chance to win since they are still quite a new pair.  I hope we can play better tomorrow and advance to the semi-final since our best result in the Malaysian Superseries is the quarter-final stage.”

Click here for complete Thursday results

About Mior Muzaffar Dahalan