BANGKOK: Being dropped from the national team seems to have lit a fire under independent men’s doubles pair Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi as they secured their first title of the year at Thailand Masters yesterday.
Yew Sin-Ee Yi came back from losing first set to China’s Huang Kai Xiang and Liu Cheng 18-21 and secured the next two 21-17, 21-17 in 72 minutes.
They were the only Malaysians in finals action yesterday after Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong and two mixed doubles pairs; Tan Kiang Meng-Lai Pei Jing and Goh Soon Huat-Lai Shevon James lost in the semifinals, on Saturday.
Hong Kong shuttler Ng Ka-long snatched the men’s singles title after a shaky start against Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto, whose compatriot Akane Yamaguchi beat Korea’s An Se-young in a hard-fought women’s final.
World No 9 Ng clinched victory after Nishimoto took the first game in a 16-21, 21-13, 21-12 duel.
But missteps in the second and third game by the 25-year-old Japanese player allowed Ng to move forward in a decisive victory – coming back swiftly after a five-point low.
His win in the US$150,000 tournament is his first in a long time – Ng’s last victory was at the Malaysia Masters in 2017 and the Hong Kong Open the year before.
Another rivalry came to a head in the women’s finals when Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi conquered her teenage opponent An Se-young in two games.
The 17-year-old Korean, voted Most Promising Player of 2019, had previously beaten world No 3 Yamaguchi in November at the Korea Masters.
But this time the top seed continued her impressive and fierce performance from the day before – when she battled Spain’s Carolina Marin yesterday for the spot in the finals.
Yamaguchi went point-for-point in the second game, the 22-year-old Japanese pulling through with a 21-16, 22-20 victory after an intense volley that had both players diving for the shuttlecock.
In women’s doubles Chinese pair Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan beat Korea’s Baek Ha-na and Jung Kyung-eun in a 17-21, 21-17, 21-15 match.
The Thailand Masters is the second competition this month to not feature men’s world number one Kento Momota after the Japanese superstar was injured in a car crash that killed his driver and left him with minor injuries in Kuala Lumpur.