Japan too earned a first-ever mixed doubles place in the last-four, with Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino staging a come-from-behind performance against Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai. It will be up to Tang/Tse and Watanabe/Higashino to prevent an all-China final, as top seeds Zheng Si Wei/Huang Ya Qiong and second seeds Wang Yi Lyu/Huang Dong Ping powered through their quarterfinals in quick time.
Solid Display by Tang/Tse
World No.13 duo Tang/Tse stayed steady in the face of a strong challenge from Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith in the second game, taking the match 21-13 21-18 in 43 minutes. The Great Britain pair had their tails up in the second but a spell of inconsistent play late in the match sealed their fate.
“This is one of the biggest achievements in our career. This is my third time in the Olympics and the first time we’re getting to the semifinals, so we’re very happy. We’d lost to them the last time and were prepared for a tough match, but I think they were a bit nervous today,” said Tse Ying Suet.
Lauren Smith said they weren’t consistent enough to trouble their opponents.
“It was definitely an opportunity. We know we can beat them, we did last time. I just feel more gutted because of our own performance, we didn’t get the consistency, We didn’t quite nail the tactics, and maybe we were off the speed a little bit. That’s the most disappointing thing. They were just better than us today,” said Smith.
In the other half, Puavaranukroh/Taerattanachai, winners of all three Asian Leg events in January, enjoyed a brisk start against Watanabe/Higashino, going up 11-3 and appeared to have proceedings under control. But the Japanese recovered quickly and kept a high pace throughout, wearing their opponents down at the end of 67 minutes, 15-21 21-16 21-14.
“They were driving things so hard in the first game, so we changed our tactics and prepared to defend better. That change made things work,” said Higashino.
“They were playing well, they are strong and we were shocked. We knew if they continued two consecutive games, then we would have to accept it. We kept up our concentration and we saw when our opponents had stopped moving, that was a chance for us to beat them.”
The top two Chinese pairs were untroubled for the most part. Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong had lost two of their last three matches to Jordan/Oktavianti, but their faceoff today had a different complexion. The Indonesians gave their opponents far too many opportunities, and the top seeds clinched their last-four place with a degree of comfort.
It was a similar story with Wang/Huang, as Seo Seung Jae/Chae Yujung were unable to provide much resistance to the second seeds.