[5/6] HONG KONG, CHINA v [5/6] Malaysia
Chan Sin Yuk 1-3 Aifa Azman 5-11, 5-11, 11-8, 10-12 (33m)
Tong Tsz-Wing 2-3 Chan Yiwen 1-11, 11-7, 0-11, 12-10, 6-11 (42m)
Lee Ka Yi 1-2 Rachel Arnold 6-11, 11-6, 7-11 (26m)
Interesting to follow how players handle matches. Take Aifa Azman for example. Every time I see her play, she seems to be completely focused and kicks everybody’ racquet, or she is away with the fairies for at least one game. She did it against Satome (Japan), and against Melissa (France).
And today, she was on fire the Malaysian was, not giving any chance to her Malaysian opponent to get into the match. Well, to be noticed that Sin Yuk created THE upset of the night yesterday, taking out favourite Lucy Turmel 10-12 in the 5th. Is it difficult to back it up the next day against a player as sharp, fast and powerful as Aifa? Probably not.
Still, I feel that the Malaysian dropped a bit in the 3rd, while the shoulders of the HK girl seemed to go a bit in a better body language position at the start of it. Maybe a “what else can go wrong” when you are 2/0 down? A good third game from HK, we got to see how she was able to beat Lucy yesterday.
But in the 4th, she missed her chance. With the momentum of the third, she zoomed to 5/1, 7/3, Aifa looking a bit tired and going for too much too soon. But a few magical return of serves that stroke gold every time, and Aifa was back right in the match, 8/9.
At 10/8, we thought that surely we were on for a fifth, but Aifa found her A game at the crucial time, scoring 5 points in a row…
In the second match, again, some strange on and off switch for the players: again, last night encounter against England might have left a few drained and tired legs (I saw poor Tong hitting her tighs with a vengeance between games)…
Malaysia completely dominant in game one, 11/1 in a couple of minutes! Then a nice response from Tong, 11/7. Ok we have a match we think. But she loses the next one 11/0. Fine we now think, match over. But Tong, after talking her coaches, seems to come back to life again, 5/1, 5/5, 6/6, 7/7, 8/8, 9/9 – thanks to a stroke to HK that might have been a no let – 10/9 game ball HK, forcing a decider 12/10!
So now to be honest, we stopped thinking and just went for the run: 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6. At that point, HK wheel came off, and 5 errors and one no let, and it’s 11/6 for a delighted Malaysia….
My plan was simple: JUST STAY IN THE RALLY! I knew that she was under a lot of pressure. I am a lot younger, so she has a different kind of pressure, they were 1/0 down, so I just gave it all.
So, yes I was telling myself: stay in the rally, and just enjoy the game.
It’s my first World Teams so it feels incredible! I sure didn’t expect to go that far. We just played step by step, lost against France yesterday, and after that, we had a meeting and we said, just be there for each other, and go for it.
Ajaz Azmat (Coach to Malaysia)
We lost yesterday against France, a good team, but the girls were full of confidence after that loss, they felt they could go further in the competition.
We also played Hong Kong in the Asian Team championships in Korea, we lost to them 2/1, and I think the girls wanted their revenge, they were pretty fired up.
It’s such an excellent news for us, we are so proud of the girls, all of us, the coaches, all of those who are working with us, especially after that dark period of COVID where we weren’t allowed to play any competition. So we organised team bubble training, it was a hard time for us, but we tried to keep them motivated, and so happy if finally paid off…