World Championships 2018: Journeyman Daren Liew clinches bronze for Malaysia in Lee Chong Wei's absence

Malaysia’s Daren Liew virtually conceded a walkover after hurting his proper ankle in his quarter-final conflict in opposition to Kanta Tsuneyama.

Mendacity on the court docket, grimacing in ache whereas holding his leg, the 30-year-old shuttler had picked up a knock on his proper ankle after slipping and falling whereas trying to return a shot on the web — this harm may have ended his possibilities of successful a medal on the World Championships in Nanjing. He was main 13-12 within the second recreation after having gained the primary. But it surely appeared prefer it was throughout for him.

Earlier than reaching the Final-8 of the celebrated competitors, the Kuala Lumpur native had surprised Indonesia’s gifted Jonatan Christie 21-12, 21-16 within the first spherical earlier than sending World No 5 Kidambi Srikanth packing within the Spherical of 16 on Thursday. Curiously, Daren has all the time managed to beat Srikanth in every of their encounters in worldwide tournaments.

Within the absence of ace shuttler Lee Chong Wei, who skipped the celebrated event on account of a respiratory dysfunction, Daren was handed the problem to tackle the world’s greatest gamers in Nanjing. So, the quarters introduced a once-in-a-lifetime alternative for Daren to put his fingers on a maiden Worlds medal, whose profession in any other case has been marred by accidents and detached kind. When he went down within the quarters, it appeared like the curse of accidents had struck once more.

After some medical help, the Malaysian shuttler obtained again on his ft courageously solely to search out himself limping once more. Tsuneyama took full benefit of his opponent’s battle and ultimately edged previous Daren 23-21 to power a decider.

Regardless of the discomfort, it did not appear as if he was considering of retiring from the match. Giving up at this stage would’ve been heartbreaking. Maybe the considered quitting after coming so agonisingly near a World Championships medal itself or perhaps the cheers he obtained from the stands, made him keep on within the match.

As an alternative of being apprehensive, Daren seemed to be fast on the web. However his knee restricted his sideways actions within the deciding recreation, the place he once more requested for some medical help whereas main 19-17. Nonetheless, his request was refused by the match officers. At 20-17, the 30-year-old squandered three match factors, however with the gang rooting for him, Liew pounced on the web to earn his seventh match level. And Daren had cliched it. He fell flat on the ground as Tsuneyama missed the final shot.

A 22-20, 23-21, 22-20 win assured him of a medal on the world meet. “That is past my wildest desires,” Liew was quoted as saying by the BWF web site. “After I fell, my ankle harm for some time but it surely obtained higher within the third recreation. I had match factors within the second recreation and within the third recreation, simply grateful that I gained. I simply held on. My ankle obtained higher after some time. Simply saved preventing,” he added.

Whereas China’s male singles shuttlers have been performing effectively in Nanjing, the void left by Malaysian ace Lee was efficiently crammed by Daren, who’s an unbiased shuttler. He famously fell out with the Badminton Affiliation of Malaysia (BAM) in 2016, two years after failing to skipper his group to victory within the 2014 Thomas Cup in India.

Other than a French Superseries title in 2012 — the place he defeated defending world champion Viktor Axelsen within the remaining — a medal on the Worlds can be the self-funded shuttler’s solely notable achievement of his profession thus far. He has by no means regained the shape that noticed him obtain a career-high rating of No 10 on the planet in 2013. It isn’t stunning that he’s the one Malaysian after former World No 1 Lee to have gained a Superseries title. Chong Wei Feng, Iskandar Zulkarnain and Lee Zii Jia have not been in a position to make a mark on the worldwide circuit.

After upsetting huge names and scripting a memorable fightback within the quarters, a fatigued Daren folded in straight video games in opposition to Kento Momota regardless of exhibiting flashes of brilliance within the early exchanges. Momota eased previous Daren 21-16, 21-5 to enter the ultimate. The Japanese ace is the favorite to win the World Championships now, having gained the Asian Championships and Indonesia Open this 12 months.

However everybody loves an underdog story and the gang inside the sector would’ve loved cheering for Daren, who defied the chances by clinching bronze in Nanjing.

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