KUALA LUMPUR: National singles shuttler Julia Wong was the undoubted star of the day as Malaysians booked their places in three finals in the Macau Open yesterday.
Besides Julia, top seeds Lee Chong Wei and Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong justified their seedings by checking into the men’s singles and doubles finals respectively.
Julia, the sixth seed, staged a great comeback to beat fourth seed Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong 17-21, 23-21, 21-17 in a one-hour semi-final battle.
She will face Hong Kong’s Zhou Mi, who toiled for 59-minute to beat China’s Zhu Jingjing 20-22, 21-18, 21-16, in today’s final.
The turning point for Julia in her match against Pui Yin came in the second game, when she was trailing 17-20. It seemed all over for the Malaysian at that stage but, once again, she lived up to her reputation as a fighter to take the Hong Kong shuttler into the rubber game.
The decider, however, proved to be an anti-climax, with Julia prevailing in an error-strewn rubber game.
The 21-year-old Julia was delighted to have made the final for the first time in two years.
She qualified for the 2006 Philippines Open final and was soundly beaten by India’s Saina Nehwal.
“It feels good to be in a final again after a while,” said Julia in a telephone interview yesterday.
“I could have played better €” just like how I played when I defeated the Chinese player (Wang Lin) in the quarter-finals. I made some silly mistakes today.”
Julia has never won a title, except for a minor Sri Lanka Satellite title in 2006, and she knows that it will not be easy to nail her first Open title by beating Zhou Mi.
“I was in the Bukit Jalil Sports School when I heard about Zhou Mi. She was already winning titles then.
“I am up against a very experienced player. It will be tough indeed,” said Julia.
This year, former All-England champion Zhou Mi has captured two Super Series titles €” in South Korea and China.
“I have played against her only once this year (at the India Open). I lost in straight games €” quite easily. I will be satisfied if I can give her a run for the money,” added Julia.
There was no double joy for Malaysia in the women’s competition when Ng Hui Lin-Woon Khe Wei went down 12-21, 12-21 to China’s back-up players Ma Jin-Wang Xiaoli in the semi-final.