Hong Kong’s badminton pair of Tse Ying-suet and Tang Chun-man powered into the semifinals of the mixed doubles event at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday with a solid win over Lauren Smith and Marcus Ellis of Britain.
But they’ll face a stiff challenge to proceed to the gold-medal match, with a showdown looming against the top-seeded Chinese duo of Huang Yaqiong and Zheng Siwei on Thursday morning.
Tse and Tang controlled the match early on, building a solid lead before allowing the Britons to go on a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to 13-14.
They then kicked it up a notch to take the next seven points, and the game, 21-13.
The second game was much tighter, with both sides showing their nerves at times with unforced errors.
The Hong Kong team often directed their attacks at Smith – a successful tactic that enabled them to rally back from a four-point deficit to eventually take the game 21-18 to advance to the final four.
Afterwards, Tang told reporters their target had been to reach the quarterfinals, and they’re both ‘surprised’ to advance to the semis.
He also admitted taking particular pleasure in avenging a previous loss to the British pair.
"We've faced [them] before, and lost once. So we can call this a nice revenge, we're really happy", he said.
Tse, who’s competing in her third Olympics at the age of 29, said her younger and less experienced teammate did well to control the momentum of the match down the stretch with well-executed serves.
"I'm so happy, he's really mature now," she said of the 26-year-old.
And while they’re both happy to have advanced as far as they have, neither are ready to stop their run just yet, even though they will be facing much tougher opponents in Huang and Zheng.
"They're obviously stronger than we are, but as coach said, anything is possible," Tse said.