Jan O Jorgensen’s threatening attack against national superhero Lee Chong Wei could not stop the Malaysian from entering his tenth final at his home event, while Sony Dwi Kuncoro claimed his fourth straight win against Kenichi Tago for another chance to sweep Lee off the ground on Malaysian soil. Meanwhile, Saina failed to prove that experience wins all, as she was forced to end her run, losing to Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei.
By Ooi Ee Lyn, Badzine Correspondent live in Kuala Lumpur. Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)
Sony Dwi Kuncoro (photo) is back to attempt to topple Lee Chong Wei’s status as the Juara Kampung – hometown champion. The world #5 Indonesian is currently one of the men’s singles players with the best record against two time Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei. Among Sony’s five victories in twelve meetings with Lee, two were achieved in the World Championships – where one was right here in the Bukit Jalil Putra Stadium of Malaysia.
Lee (photo)is known as a hometown champion for a reason – he seldom loses at home. However, the very man who will be up against him tomorrow has defeated him several times – once at home, witnessed by the national crowd. In 2007, Sony triumphed over Lee in the third round of the World Championships in Kuala Lumpur, and announced himself runner-up as he lost to Lin Dan in the finals.
As the Indonesian marked his fourth straight victory against Kenichi Tago of Japan, he now looks forward to taking a step closer to levelling his record against Lee. “I beat Lee Chong Wei here before, but it was a long time ago. I will try hard tomorrow. My world ranking may be higher now, but I think used to play better last time,” uttered Sony.
Like many before him in Malaysia, Jan O Jorgensen could not halt the world #1, commenting after the match, “It was tough. Lee Chong Wei is just so good in his attacking game. I really tried my best to put pressure on him, but when you’re five or six points behind a top player like that, it’s just tough.”
Despite the exit in the semi-finals, Jorgensen – who had a notable win against Lin Dan in the same event last year, as well as a memorable run in this edition – expressed his thoughts about the host country, saying, “It’s really good to be here. The food is good, the culture is good… I really like to be here.”
Saina and Bae exit, as the final becomes battle of the 90s
After defeating Yip Pui Yin in the second round of the Malaysia Open, Saina Nehwal (photo) commented on the recent bloom of women’s singles players in the circuit, saying, “I may not be much older than them, but I have more experience.” However, the 2008 World Junior Champion, 2010 Commonwealth Games Champion and 2012 Olympic Bronze medallist failed to claim the entrance pass to the final, proving that sometimes, luck may outplay experience. Saina Nehwal lost to 2012 Chinese Taipei and Japan Open champion Tai Tzu Ying in straight sets.
Stepping backstage with a wide grin, the carefree lady from Chinese Taipei said, “I lost to Saina many times. A Taiwanese journalist told me that I’ve lost four times. The only time I won against her was in our last meeting in end of 2011. After that, I always lost in the early rounds, and never had the chance to play against her.”
“I imagine Saina to be tougher than she probably is. I’ve never beaten her anyway,” she continued, explaining her idea to outplaying the Indian in the semi-finals today. As for the final round, “I’ll let nature take its course. Hopefully I can win again,” said Tai (photo) with her famous line, “Well, just go with the flow.”
Before a final victory could flow towards the world #12, she would first have to remove a heavy boulder that is in the way. Chinese qualifier Yao Xue defeated 2010 Malaysia Open runner-up Bae Yeon Ju, and dashed into her first Superseries final from the qualifying rounds of the tournament.
Similar to the remarks of her future final opponent, the Chinese player said, “I’ll do my best no matter who my opponent is. It’s a very good chance for me to learn. I’ll take it with an open heart and treat everyone as an ace.”
Will Tai, who made her way into her second Superseries final own the match; or will Yao Xue, the rising star of China clinch the title in her first ever Superseries final? The final showdown between the two young ladies whose ages are three years apart will start off as the first match at the Putra Stadium on Sunday afternoon.