Izaac Quek, Koen Pang book S'pore Smash last-eight berth, Latest Team Singapore News - The New Paper
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Izaac Quek, Koen Pang book S'pore Smash last-eight berth

Izaac Quek and Koen Pang barely have time to reflect on their feat after storming into the quarter-finals of the Singapore Smash on March 13.

Next up is a mammoth test for the men’s doubles world No. 16 pair, who declared their desire to give world No. 1 duo Fan Zhendong and Wang Chuqin of China a “good fight” in their clash on March 14.

After a 3-0 (11-6, 11-4, 11-9) win over unranked Argentinians Santiago Lorenzo and Horacio Cifuentes in the last 16 at the OCBC Arena, the duo became the second Singaporean pair to make the quarter-finals of the event, after Clarence Chew and Ethan Poh made history in 2022.

Izaac and Pang are not relishing another encounter with the Chinese, the two-time defending champions, after losing 3-1 to Fan and Wang in the round of 16 of the Singapore Smash in 2023.

Before that, Izaac and Pang succumbed 4-0 to the Chinese pair in the last 16 of the Asia continental stage of the 2023 World Table Tennis Championships.

Both Fan and Wang are also the men’s singles world No. 1 and 2 respectively.

Pang, 21, said: “It’s the biggest quarter-finals I’ll be playing. I’m just trying to play to my best because they are world No. 1 and 2, so we have nothing to lose.”

Izaac, 17, acknowledged that it will be tough, but noted that they have learnt from their encounters with the Chinese.

He said: “We already know how strong they are, what are their strengths and weaknesses.

“So coming into the game, we know what to do. We just have to not second guess ourselves, try to take some risks and, hopefully, put up a good fight.”

They are also buoyed by their win over the Argentinians on March 13.

Izaac and Pang started the match comfortably, going 3-2 ahead and never relinquishing the lead to take the first game 11-6.

They raced to a 7-1 advantage as they returned to the court and the Argentinians had no answer to the Singaporeans, who sealed the second game 11-4.

But it was neck-and-neck in the third game, with the visitors playing longer rallies and both sides exchanging leads four times till 9-9, when the Singaporeans took the final two points to see out the match.

Pang and Izaac, the 2023 SEA Games men’s doubles champions, began playing together in 2022 and will be banking on their understanding against the Chinese pair.

Said Pang: “When the ball comes to him, I roughly know what he will do and I can prepare for the next ball slightly faster and there’s more chemistry.” 

They are the only Singaporeans left in the tournament.

Compatriots Lucas Tan and Josh Chua pushed South Korean world No. 2 Lim Jong-hoon and Jang Woo-jin, the silver medallists at the 2023 world championships, by taking the first frame 12-10, but lost the subsequent games 12-10, 11-8, 11-6 in their round-of-16 meeting.