MALAYSIA MASTERS 2016 SF – Iskandar into first major final

Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin upset Kidambi Srikanth in Penang on Saturday to make the Malaysia Masters the first  major final of his career. Story and photos by Chee Ying Fan (live […]

Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin upset Kidambi Srikanth in Penang on Saturday to make the Malaysia Masters the first  major final of his career.

Story and photos by Chee Ying Fan (live in Penang)

All Malaysian men’s singles final a reality

It has been more than six years since Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin (pictured) signalled his intention to join the elite of world badminton by reaching the finals of the Asian and World Junior Championships.  Both of those runner-up finishes came on the west coast of Malaysia – in Kuala Lumpur and Alor Setar – but he had to wait until this weekend, in Penang to follow up with the first  major title of his career.

It will be a battle between Malaysians in the men’s finals of Malaysia Masters in SPICE Arena on Sunday as both Iskandar and Lee Chong Wei delighted the crowd with their wins over very tough challengers. Iskandar continued his string of surprises from day 1 when he beat second seed SriKanth, 27-25, 21-9.  Iskandar asked for medical attention during his match as his leg was bleeding from the amount of diving he was doing in pursuit of his victory.

“Normally I lose in deuce games but this time I was stronger mentally and managed to win it,” said Iskandar afterwards.  “I hope to play against my big brother [Lee) tomorrow. I always watch him play on TV and will give all my best against him.”

Lee Chong Wei (pictured) had a tough first game against Tommy Sugiarto before winning 21-19, 21-15. The first game was halted for about 10 minutes, when Lee questioned the receiver fault given by the umpire. After a long discussion with the referee and officials, Lee was given a let.

“I am very happy that Iskandar did well to enter the finals,” Lee said. It has been a long time since we have an all Malaysian finals. I hope he goes all out against me and continue to improve.”

Locals on track for three

Qualifiers Tan Kian Meng / Lai Peng Jing (pictured) played superbly to defeat their older team-mates Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying in 2 games, although Penang native Chan and his partner were getting most of the crowd’s support.

“We are very happy to play in our first Gold finals,” Lai said.  “I think our seniors had more pressure today.”

Tan/Lai will meet rising stars Zheng Siwei / Li Yinhui in the finals.  Despite their tender years, unlike their opponents, neither member of the brand-new Chinese pair is making a Grand Prix Gold final debut.  Zheng was in his first such final two years ago and has since won three titles at this level, while Li won her only previous Grand Prix Gold final in Thailand last autumn.

Li Yinhui failed to make it double joy when she lost in the women’s doubles to former world #1 Matsutomo/Takahashi.  The top-seeded Japanese pair will meet Tang Yuanting / Yu Yang in the final after the Chinese stars devastated Korea’s Jang/Lee.

Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong finally ended their losing streak when they upset 1st seed, Kim Sa Rang / Kim Gi Jung in exciting 3 games.  In the final, they will meet Indonesians Markus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo who followed up their earlier upset of 3rd seeds, Ko Sung Hyun / Shin Baek Cheol with a quick semi-final victory over Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda.

“Now we don’t force ourselves in our game,” Koo said afterwards.  “We are more relaxed and enjoy the game, which is better for us.”

India’s P. V. Sindhu (pictured) defeated 1st seed Sung Ji Hyun in 3 games.  She is now just one step away from taking back the title she last won in 2013.

“I could have won in straight games but in the second game, I made many mistakes and allowed Sung to score 7 consecutive points,” said Sindhu after the match.

“In the third game, I played better. I think I played well overall.  I am happy to be in the finals. I had a tough draw and there are many good players.”

Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour (pictured) continued to do well, beating Japan’s Yui Hashimoto 12-21, 21-18, 21-8.  After reaching three Grand Prix finals in the past three months, Gilmour thus books a spot in her first Grand Prix Gold final since the autumn of 2013, just a few weeks before winning her only encounter with Sindhu.

“I am very happy to win today,” Gilmour said after her win.  “I didn’t play well in the first game. Japanese players are very good at running and returning the shuttles.  Sindhu and I have grown in our game and I hope to play well tomorrow.”

Finals line-up
XD: Tan Kian Meng / Lai Pei Jing (MAS) vs. Zheng Siwei / Li Yinhui (CHN)
WS: P. V. Sindhu (IND) [3] vs. Kirsty Gilmour (SCO)
MD: Koo Kien Keat /  Tan Boon Heong (MAS) vs. Markus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA)
WD: Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi [1] vs. Tang Yuanting / Yu Yang (CHN) [6]
MS: Lee Chong Wei (MAS) [1] vs. Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin (MAS)

Click here for complete semi-final results

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