Axiata Cup: Asian All Stars crash out in semis
Asian All Stars, featuring the Indian pair of Tarun Kona and Ashwini Ponnappa, failed to make it past Malaysia in the million-dollar Axiata Cup tournament on Saturday.
The Malaysians outclassed Asian All Stars 3-0. Sonia Cheah drew first blood for Malaysia, beating Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying 21-18 21-16 before Daren Liew consolidated with an unexpected three-game win over Korean veteran Lee Hyun Il. Liew lost a close first game 24-22 to Lee, but the upcoming Malaysian overwhelmed the Korean in the remaining two games 21-12 21-12.
Tarun Kona and Ashwini Ponnappa next took on Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying and gave them a tough contest. The Malaysians won the first game rather easily, 21-8, but the Indians forced a decider by taking the second game 21-18. Eventually, however, the Malaysians sealed their place in the finals by winning the last game 21-17.
The fourth match between Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong and the Chinese pair of Bao Chunlai/Zheng Bo was not played.
In the other semifinals, Thailand shocked Indonesia 3-0. All England finalist Ratchanok Intanon provided the early momentum for the Thais, beating Lindaweni Fanetri 21-18 21-16, before left-hander Tanongsak S got past Tommy Sugiarto 21-16 21-15. The third match was between two experienced pairs: Tontowi Ahmad/ Lilyana Natsir of Indonesia versus Sudket Propakamol/Saralee T of Thailand. The Thais again defied expectations by beating the younger Indonesians 21-17 21-18.
The Axiata Cup, sponsored by one of Asia’s largest telecom companies, has steadily grown since its debut last year. With one million dollars in prize money, it’s the richest badminton tournament in the world, featuring several players from across the world, including retired Chinese stars like Bao Chunlai and Zheng Bo. This year’s event saw eight teams: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Asian All Stars, Europe, Singapore, Vietnam and Philippines. Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Asian All Stars made it to the semifinals.