CHALLENGE ENDS: Daren only bright spark as China whip Malaysia
THE absence of Lee Chong Wei was sorely felt as Malaysia were demolished 3-0 by champions China in their Thomas Cup quarter-final tie at the Wuhan Sports Centre yesterday.
It was the second time in a row that China had secured a convincing 3-0 victory over Malaysia, having done the same in the semi-finals in Kuala Lumpur two years ago.
Debutant Liew Daren played without any pressure and even shocked Lin Dan by taking the first game but it turned out to be a false dawn, as the Olympic champion recovered magnificently to seal the first point 17-21, 21-9, 21-5 in 55 minutes.
Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong briefly threatened to bring Malaysia back into the tie but they lacked the aggression and mental strength to overcome China's great wall in the doubles, Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng who triumphed 21-17, 21-18 in 35 minutes.
Hafiz Hashim was unable to contain a far superior Chen Long and suffered a tame 21-10, 21-11 defeat in 46 minutes.
National singles coach Rashid Sidek said Malaysia were involved in a losing battle the moment Chong Wei was ruled out.
"Without Chong Wei, it was very difficult as China are stronger than us and their players are of a different quality," said Rashid.
"The positive thing is that Daren fought bravely against Lin Dan and he can be developed for the future."
Daren said he played without pressure and that was the reason he managed to surprise Lin Dan in the first game.
"I was under no pressure and Lin Dan also made a lot mistakes in the first game. Although I lost, it was a good experience playing as the first singles and also taking a game against the Olympic champion," said Daren.
Boon Heong said the consistency of the China pair's attacking and speed made the difference as they couldn't contain them despite giving some resistance in the initial stages.
"It's the variation of their attack, interception and speed which made the difference. The other aspect we have to improve is the receiving of service where we make mistakes."
Malaysia were not the only ones who were blown away as 13-time champions Indonesia were shocked 3-2 by Japan, thus failing to reach the semi-finals of the Thomas Cup for the first time. The players were left shell-shocked while the officials simply didn't have the courage to face the media.
Japan repeated their semi-final feat of 2010 and will face China in the semi-finals tomorrow.
Denmark, who beat Russia 3-0, will meet South Korea, who defeated Germany, 3-0, in the other semi-final.
AT A GLANCE
Results, q-Finals: China 3 Malaysia 0 (Lin Dan bt Liew Daren 17-21, 21-9, 21-5; Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng bt Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong 21-17, 21-18; Chen Long bt Hafiz Hashim 21-10, 21-11); Japan 3 Indonesia 2; Denmark 3 Russia 0; South Korea 3 Germany 0.
Uber Cup: China 3 Germany 0; Thailand 3 Denmark 0; Japan 3 Indonesia 2; South Korea 3 Taiwan 2.
S-finals, Today: China v Thailand; South Korea v Japan