KUANTAN: Even a dubious line call did not dampen the spirit of back-up shuttler Liew Daren to score a big upset in the Pahang Open men’s singles competition here yesterday.
Daren put up a gallant fight at the Pahang Sports Complex Indoor Stadium to beat second seed Mohd Hafiz Hashim 17-21, 21-14, 21-19 in 52 minutes to march into the quarter-finals of the men’s singles event. It was Daren’s first win over the former All-England champion.
The rubber game was a thriller with Daren piling up the pressure on Hafiz until both were tied at 19-19. Then, an indecisive call by a line judge brought the game to a halt.
“The line judge called Hafiz’s shuttle out but Hafiz questioned it. The line judge came under pressure from the fans and he called it in. The umpire overruled it and called a let,” said Daren.
“I was upset but I tried to remain cool. In fact, I was even more determined to win the game. Fortunately, I pulled it off.”
Daren added that the win was important, especially after his game took a nose dive because of a heel injury.
“I did well in the Malaysian Open (to reach the quarter-finals) but my game dropped after that. I was hampered by injuries,” he said.
“I am in better condition now and hopefully, I can go all the way to the final here,” added Daren, who will take on Chan Kwong Beng for a place in the semi-finals.
Hafiz, however, did not want to read too much into the defeat even though it was the second time in six months that he was beaten by a back-up shuttler. He lost to Kwong Beng in the National Grand Prix Finals in Alor Star last December.
“It is just unfortunate that I lost today. Daren was brave and took his chances well,” said Hafiz.
“The back-up players are catching up but I have not lost my touch. My next tournament is the Indonesian Open and I will be ready for it.”
While Daren was in immaculate form, his compatriot Tan Chun Seang lived dangerously before squeezing into the quarter-finals with a 14-21, 21-14, 21-13 win over youngster Iskandar Zulkarnain. Chun Seang will take on world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei in the quarter-finals.
The other quarter-finalists are Kuan Beng Hong, Mohd Arif Abdul Latif, Mohd Roslin Hashim and Syed Akbar Shah Mustakim of Malacca. In the men’s doubles, the top two seeded pairs — Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong and Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif — marched into the quarter-finals.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong will take on youngsters Mak Hee Chun-Tan Wee Kiong while Fairuzizuan-Zakry will play against Lim Khim Wah-Ong Jian Guo for places in the semi-finals.
Two other quarter-finalists are Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng, Mohd Lutfi Zaim Abdul Khalid-Teo Kok Siang, veterans Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah and Khoo Chung Chiat-Ong Soon Hock.