Haikal-Hon Jian battle their way into Australian Open semi-finals

KUALA LUMPUR: National men's pair Haikal Nazri-Choong Hon Jian took a step closer to their maiden Super 500 title on the World Tour by advancing to the semi-finals of the Australian Open today.

The world No. 26 staved off a stiff challenge from home pair Rizky Hidayat-Frengky Wijaya Putra, claiming a 21-16, 18-21, 21-19 win at the Quaycentre in Sydney.

However, before Haikal and Hon Jian can dream about winning the biggest title of their careers, they must overcome China's top seeds, He Ji Ting-Ren Xiang Yu, in the semi-finals.

Ji Ting-Xiang Yu advanced after ending the gallant run of young Malaysian pair Aaron Tai-Kang Khai Xing, triumphing 21-14, 21-12.

It will be Haikal-Hon Jian's first meeting against the world No. 8 Chinese who are in good form, having captured the Singapore Open two weeks ago.

For Malaysian fans, Ji Ting-Xiang Yu will surely be vividly remembered, as they secured the winning point in China's 3-1 victory over Malaysia in the semi-finals of the Thomas Cup in Chengdu last month.

Unfortunately, world No. 37 Yap Roy King-Wan Arif Junaidi failed to follow suit as they fell 21-14, 21-17 to world No. 143 Chen Zhi Ray-Lin Yu Chieh of Taiwan.

Meanwhile, it was double joy for Lai Pei Jing as she made it to the semi-finals of both the women's and mixed doubles events.

Pei Jing secured her passage into the next stage with Tan Kian Meng by beating Hon Jian-Go Pei Kee 21-15, 23-21 before returning to the court a couple of hours later to team up with Lim Chiew Sien and defeated Ukraine's Polina Buhrova-Yevheniaa Kantemyr 21-17, 21-19.

Pei Jing was delighted to have made it this far in the women's doubles event as she did not even expect she and Chiew Sien to make the main draw initially.

The last time Pei Jing featured in the women's doubles on the World Tour was way back in 2015, partnering Chow Mei Kuan at the Indonesia Masters.

"Chiew Sien and I just thought of having fun since we are here this week for the mixed doubles event. We just entered our names and try our luck... in fact didn't think we would get into the main draw," Pei Jing told BWF in a post-match interview.

"This partnership is just going to be one-off, I never think about playing in women's doubles on a regular basis."

Up next for Pei Jing-Chiew Sien are Hong Kong's Yeung Pui Lam-Yeung Nga Ting. However for Pei Jing, her priority is to keep their momentum going in the mixed doubles following their creditable semi-final outing at the Indonesia Open last week.

Revenge is surely on Kian Meng-Pei Jing's mind as they will be taking on China's Jiang Zhen Bang-Wei Ya Xin, the same pair who they lost to in the same stage last week.

Kian Meng has refused to rule out their chances despite admitting that the world No. 5 Chinese duo have the edge.

"While our opponents are having a higher winning percentage, I would say 70-30, we will try to upset them," vowed Kian Meng.

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