KUALA LUMPUR (12 MAY 2010) – Muhd Hafiz Hashim, the 2003 All England champion powered Malaysia into the Thomas Cup semi-finals with a thrilling 3-2 win over Denmark in the quarter-finals – setting off celebrations inside and outside the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Hafiz was the man of the hour when he clinched the winning point, defeating Denmark’s Joachim Persson 21-12, 21-10 in 31 minutes. Things were looking bleak for Malaysia when the Kelantan-born stepped up and saved the day with a dominating performance.

The “Mexican Wave” which had been missing for quite sometime, was done several times by the home fans – to motivate the Malaysian players and the atmosphere was electrifying.

Just when Hafiz was about to begin the press conference, team captain Datuk Lee Chong Wei walked in to pass his mobile phone to Hafiz. On the line was Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) patron Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor, wife of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak, who called to congratulate Hafiz on his win and taking Malaysia into the semis.

In the semis, Malaysia will be up against defending champions China. In the other semi-final Indonesia, 3-0 winners over India in the quarter-finals, will face Japan who stopped Germany 3-1.

“I cannot describe my feelings in securing the winning point to keep Malaysia in the tournament and a place in the semifinals,” said Hafiz.

It was a similar scenario as yesterday when Malaysia took a 2-0 lead on Court 1 – the same court where Malaysia surrendered a 2-0 lead but ended up 2-3 losers to Japan in a Group B match.

But this time around instead of the gloom that set in after the defeat to Japan, there were all round celebrations inside and outside the stadium which was packed with nearly 10,000 people.

And it was no different today when the two World No 1s – Lee Chong Wei (singles) and Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong (doubles) - beating their respective opponents to give Malaysia a 2-0 lead.

Today, Chong Wei started the ball rolling when he beat Denmark’s veteran Peter-Gade Christensen 21-17, 21-17 in a 49 minute thriller. Kien Keat-Boon Heong stayed for a shorter period on the court in their 21-17, 21-19 win over Carsten Mogensen-Mathias Boe. The match lasted 41 minutes.

But Denmark reduced the deficit when 21-year-old Jan O Jorgensen outlasted Malaysia’s veteran Wong Choong Hann 22-20, 16-21, 21-18 which had the crowd on their feet during the 72 minutes they were on the court.

Malaysia sprang a surprise by naming a scratch pair – pairing Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif with Hoon Thien How for the second doubles. The Malaysians started well by winning the first 26-24 but lost the next two 12-21, 19-21 in a 74 minute match. The score stood at 2-2 and it was left to Hafiz to deliver.

And he did it in style. Hafiz turned out to be Malaysia’s hero while Persson, Denmark’s hero in Tokyo four years ago when he beat Kuan Beng Hong for the winning point in their 3-2 win over Malaysia, was left in tears.

“I gave my best. I could have done any much more on a night when Hafiz played really well. He deserved the win. Four years ago I beat Beng Hong to take my team into the final. But I could not repeat this tonight,” said Persson.

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