World Tour Finals: Chow/Lee Spring a Surprise

Chow Mei Kuan and Lee Meng Yean, unaware that only a straight-games win in their last group match could see them through to the semifinals of the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2020, achieved their career’s biggest result at an event of this level.

The Malaysians stonewalled everything that Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu threw their way, and in doing so shut the door on the top seeds. A place in the semifinals of the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2020 was theirs, but they remained oblivious until they were shown the group table.

Three pairs – Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan, Polii/Rahayu and Chow/Lee — were level in the group with two wins and a loss after all their group assignments. Lee/Shin topped the group with the highest game difference (+3), while the Malaysians and Indonesians were level at +1, ensuring that the pair that had won the head-to-head contest would progress.

“We don’t know if we are in the semifinals. If we have entered, we are very happy about that because this is a big prize for us after the pandemic period. We didn’t think we could enter the semifinals, but this is our dream. So we are very happy,” said Lee Meng Yean.

The Indonesians faced an uphill battle all the way. They trailed all through the first, and it was only in the second that their characteristic tenacity kicked in. Chow and Lee stayed solid, giving little away in defence, and every time the Indonesians closed the gap, they were able to convert their chances, with some of Lee’s smashes going unanswered.

“Our game was to keep on pressuring them, we let them attack first and counter-attacked. It was a good strategy that worked and we managed to beat them,” said Chow Mei Kuan.

With the match, and their semifinal place, slipping away, Polii and Rahayu held nothing back, either in attack or in the longer rallies, but to the Malaysians’ credit, they held firm.

“We were focussed on every shot and didn’t think of winning or losing. We held tight on every point and pressured them with our smashes and our rotation. Our confidence grew after winning the first game,” said Chow Mei Kuan.

A crestfallen Polii said they had hoped to stake a claim for the title, but credited the Malaysians with a superior performance on the day.

“Today we didn’t play our best. The Malaysians played better than us and controlled the match. They were more focussed than us. We kept wanting to get back, but we didn’t manage it. They made fewer mistakes today. When they won the first game they got confident and played like they had nothing to lose.

“They are a good pair, we have beaten each other previously. They were more ready when they got on court, maybe we weren’t. We will have to forget this and come back with new spirit. We wanted to win this title. After we won the title in the first week, we wanted to come back and give our best and we have prepared each day, in terms of strength and energy and focus. We focussed every day. It was important to play the World Tour Finals and we learned that we have to be switched on all the time.”

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