3:22 pm
25 May 2024

Korea Upset #3 Seeds Malaysia In Asian Games Doubles Shock

1 Oct 2023

Rank outsiders Republic of Korea, the 11th seeds, put in a superb defensive performance against No.3 seeds Malaysia as mixed doubles squash made its Asian Games debut in Hangzhou, China, where the singles events also got underway at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre.

The mixed doubles tournament, the first squash doubles event of any kind to be played at the Asian Games, is being hosted by three spectacular all-glass courts and began with a bang worthy of the magnificent Hangzhou venue when, in the second match of the day, Korea's first team of Yeongsoo Yang and Dongjun Lee sent shockwaves through the tournament.

The duo, seeded 11th, went one game down to Malaysia's second team of Rachel Arnold and Ivan Yuen but levelled with a carefully-managed 11-8 win in game two.

In a tense third game, more history was made when Arnold and Yuen saved game ball at 9-10 down to force the first ever sudden death tie break at the Asian Games.

In an intense final rally, Yang and Lee were indomitable, making last gasp recoveries time and again before Lee was able to blast the ball beyond a disoriented Yuen, whose desperate lunge towards the back after momentarily losing track of the ball fell short, to the roars of the Republic of Korean bench.

Afterwards, Yang said: "At 10-10 it was tense and we had to stay calm. I feel so great because we were able to finish it really well."

Lee added: "I just told myself 'no mistakes!' This win gives us confidence for our next match."

The pair then followed up this win with a straightforward victory over Nepal's second team to top Pool C.

Despite the defeat, there was consolation for Malaysia, with Arnold and Yuen recovering to comfortably beat Thailand's first team in the afternoon.

Malaysia's first team, comprised of Mohd Syafiq Kamal and women's team champion Aifa Azman, fared better.

The duo, seeded second, entered squash's record books as the first players to win an Asian Games doubles match after overcoming a well-drilled China team of Dongjin Li and Zhitao Zhou - the first squash players to represent the hosts this year with China not entering the team or singles championships - in the morning and then beating Sri Lanka in the afternoon.

India, meanwhile, got their title bid off to a strong start with wins for their first team, top seeds Dipika Pallikal Karthik and Harinder Sandhu, against Philippines' second team and Pakistan's first team, while their second team, No.4 seeds Anahat Singh and Abhay Singh, beat Republic of Korea's second team and Pakistan's second team.

The singles event, which began in the round of 32, featured 14 matches across both draws as the majority of the players inside the top 16 seeds received byes.

Play largely went to seedings, with all but two of the matches decided in three games.

In the most competitive match of the day, Kuwait's 9/16 seed Ammar Al Tamimi came back from a game down to eventually triumph in five games against Republic of Korea's Minwoo Lee, while there was also a comeback win for Pakistan's 5/8 seed Muhammad Asim Khan as he overcame Singapore's Aaron Liang 3/1.

In a minor seedings upset, Republic of Korean junior Joo Young Na beat 9/16 seed Marcus Phua of Singapore in straight games.