THERE was to be no rip-roaring comeback from Singapore's top women's doubles pair for a second straight day.
This time, a five-point deficit in the rubber game was too much for second seeds Shinta Mulia Sari and Yao Lei, who had to settle for bronze after falling 21-23, 21-17, 17-21 to Malaysia's Vivian Hoo Kah Mun and Woon Khe Wei.
Awarded to semi-finalists, the bronze is Singapore's only badminton medal at this SEA Games. The team won one gold and four bronzes two years ago in Jakarta.
It could have been a different colour if not for some service errors and mistimed drop shots from Shinta and Yao in the first game, which they were leading 10-5.
"We made too many unforced errors - our confidence dropped from there and never recovered," said a downcast Shinta, 25.
"I'm not satisfied with the bronze because we wasted a good chance to get to the final."
Returning to their favoured "safe and simple" approach, Yao felt they did not build on the momentum of winning the second game against the world No. 18 pair, who are ranked two spots lower than the Singaporeans.
"We couldn't impose our style," bemoaned Yao, 23. "In the first and third games, our play was just very messy."
This is the pair's third Games together, after winning silver in 2009 and bronze two years later.
The Malaysians, whom Yao and Shinta had beaten twice in three previous meetings, dictated the pace throughout the hour-long battle, coming to the net often for high-percentage shots.
Usually aggressive, the Singaporeans sat back and were "too defensive and scared", admitted Shinta. "Maybe we were still feeling the adrenaline from the last match."
In the quarter-finals a day earlier, the duo recovered after trailing by six points in the final game to beat Indonesia's Imawan Gebby Ristiyani and Nuraidah Tiara Rosalia. Four of Singapore's five entries - two in the singles and two in the doubles - crashed out in the opening rounds on Tuesday.
There was an upset in the men's singles semi-finals on Friday when world No. 8 and top seed Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam lost 21-13, 12-21, 20-22 to Indonesia's Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka.
The world No. 27 will face Thai second seed Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk in the final today.
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