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Usual suspects in quarter-finals

There were no surprises in the Asian qualifiers for the Thomas and Uber Cups on Wednesday, although Malaysia’s 3-2 victory over South Korea in a Group D Thomas Cup tie had caught many unaware.

Parading perhaps their weakest line-up in the history of the competition, the Malaysian boys somehow found a way to beat their rivals with the much criticised duo of Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, upsetting the odds to beat Yoo Yeon Seong-Ko Sung Hyun (right), 21-14, 21-19 to hand Malaysia a 2-0 lead.

It was the pair’s first victory after six consecutive losses to their rivals. World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei had earlier given Malaysia the lead when he defeated Lee Hyun Il 21-13, 21-15.

South Korea pulled one back when Shon Wan Ho defeated former All England champion Hafiz Hashim 24-22, 21-16 but upcoming pair Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem sealed the tie for Malaysia when they defeated Lee Yong Dae-Shin Baek Cheol 18-21, 21-19, 21-11. Mohd Arif Abdul Latif then lost 21-17, 21-15 to Hong Ji Hoon in the dead rubber.

Malaysia’s victory meant the five-time Thomas Cup champions topped Group D and will now take on India in Thursday’s quarter-final. South Korea will meet 13-time winners Indonesia for a ticket to the semi-finals.

The other quarter-final match-ups will see Japan taking on Taipei and defending champions China facing Thailand.

Only four teams will earn a ticket to the tournament proper in Wuhan, China from May 20-27. China have already qualified as host and as such, the team who finish fifth, will also qualify for the Finals.

Malaysia have failed to qualify for the Thomas Cup final only twice, in 1973 and 1979, and there were fears they would fail in Macau.

However, their heroics in getting past South Korea means they now stand a good chance of beating India to book their place in China.

The losing quarter-finalists will playoff with each other to decide the final qualifying ticket.

China, as expected, sealed their place in the last four when they defeated Taipei 5-0 in a tie to decide the Group A champions.

Chen Long (left), who suffered a surprise straight games defeat to Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh on Tuesday, bounced back to thrash Hsu Jen Hao 21-9, 21-13 in the opening singles.

Chen Jin, who is fighting to be among the top four ranked players ahead of the Olympics, was surprisingly left out of the line-up against Taipei with Du Pengu elevated to second singles and former world junior champion Wang Zhengming playing in the third singles.

Both won in straight games as did their doubles pairing of Liu Xiaolong-Qiu Zihan and Chai Biao-Zhang Nan.

Meanwhile, in the Uber Cup, China, Malaysia, Taipei, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan and Hong Kong all confirmed their places in the quarter-finals.

For full results, click here.

 

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