Liliyana denied farewell victory at Singapore Open
She had won at the Singapore Badminton Open a record six times, and was looking to claim her seventh at her final outing at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday.
Instead, Liliyana Natsir's farewell parade at the Badminton World Federation World Tour Super 500 tournament was rained on, when she and Tontowi Ahmad - top seeds in the mixed doubles - lost 21-19, 21-18 to Malaysian second seeds Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai in the final yesterday.
The Malaysians, ranked eighth in the world, led in both games and allowed the Olympic champions to come back both times, but held their nerves for a famous upset.
The 24-year-old Lai said: "I was very honoured to play against them, as everyone knows they are not only the world No. 1 pair, but also the Olympic champions."
Goh, 28, added: "We knew that she (Liliyana) would be retiring soon, so it's our pleasure to be (playing) against them."
The Indonesians - even the usually reliable Liliyana - paid the price for several unforced errors during the 36-minute affair.
"Perhaps it is because we have come from winning the Indonesian Open (two weeks ago). Given that we only had a week to prepare, I am quite surprised that we made it to the final," said the 32-year-old Liliyana, who will retire at the end of the year.
" We definitely wanted to win, but we could not keep our focus. But I am not sad, just thankful that we were able to reach the final. Now we will look forward to preparing for the Asian Games, which is most important to us."
Also celebrating breakthroughs yesterday were Japan's Sayaka Takahashi and Taiwan's Chou Tien-chen, who won the women's and men's singles respectively.
Takahashi, 25, beat China's Gao Fangjie 25-23, 21-14 to claim her third title in four finals this season.
Chou beat teammate Hsu Jen-hao 21-13, 21-13 to clinch the men's singles title. - LIM SAY HENG