Malaysia’s first doubles final at the BWF World Championships in 12 years came to fruition through a focussed, hard slog by Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik, who never wavered at the crucial moments of a marathon semifinal.
Not since 2010, when Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong made the final, have a Malaysian pair been in contention for gold. Chia and Soh often looked in danger of falling behind against fired-up pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, but their focus was spot-on during the 77-minute match. Instead, it was the Indians who were left ruing their missed chances and some poor luck, having snapped their strings a few times during the rallies.
The Malaysians are now in the biggest final of their career.
“It wasn’t easy, it was a struggle. We’ve always been nervous in the semifinals, so we are really satisfied that we were able to come back in the second game and that will really boost our confidence,” said Soh.
“Our focus and mindset was very good. From the start of the tournament, our main focus has been on ourselves, not on our opponents. No matter how good our opponents are, we were able to focus on ourselves and play our game.”
“We know that our mission is not done yet,” added his partner. “There is one more step to go. We want to go all-out tomorrow.”
The final will be a replay of the Olympic bronze medal match between the Malaysians and ageless wonders Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan, who kept up their unbeaten streak at the World Championships. The Daddies, three-time champions, are now unbeaten in 19 matches from four World Championships.
In an earlier semifinal, Ahsan and Setiawan outplayed younger compatriots Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto 23-21 12-21 21-16.