The most dominant men’s doubles pair of recent years crashed out in the quarterfinals, continuing the trend of upsets that has characterised Tokyo 2020.
It was the turn of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo today, following yesterday’s shock exit of men’s singles top seed Kento Momota. The Minions succumbed to a high-octane performance from Malaysia’s Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik, who beat them for the first time in eight matches, 21-14 21-17. The Minions will have to reconcile with going another major event without a medal.
It was Chia and Soh’s show all the way. It was evident from the start that the Minions were in discomfort as they struggled to get into their normal flow; the Malaysians, on the other hand, simply stepped up as they sensed their chance. The Minions’ defence, normally impregnable, was torn to shreds as Chia and Soh rained smashes on them.
Only late in the second game did Gideon and Sukamuljo run up a spell to trouble their opponents, but Gideon faulted on service and the momentum swung the other way.
“I really can’t believe we won, especially at the Olympics. We’ve never beaten them. This is the best match of my career,” said Soh. “Our on-court communication gave us a lot of confidence. We discussed every point, the mental side of things was very clear to play every shot.”
“Nobody expected this but we are quite satisfied with our performance. We will play with the same spirit in the next round. We tried to nullity their strong points and focused more on our attacking game. And we were confident,” added his partner.
Gideon acknowledged the occasion had got to them.
“I think today we were under pressure form beginning of match. We will have to evaluate. We were just not feeling good.
“They played with nothing to lose, they played well today. They kept attacking us. We underperformed today. We had a lot of pressure at an event like this, that’s why we just couldn’t play well.”