By Don Hearn. Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)
We often refer to badminton players ‘fighting hard’ to win matches. While players rarely emerge from their matches actually looking like they’ve been in a boxing ring, Korean veteran Lee Hyun Il sported quite a shiner by the time he got to the men’s singles podium at the 2017 Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold.
Lee traded the first two games with Ng Ka Long (pictured) of Hong Kong. Tied at 9-all in the decider, the two players were duelling to determine whose lead would force the final end change when Lee went to the floor after missing a desperation drive save.
As the medical staff took to the scene, replays revealed that Lee had struck his left eye socket with his own racquet on a follow-through. The medical attendants got the bleeding stopped but not the swelling and Lee decided that his impaired vision would not make it worthwhile to continue the match and he conceded the title to Ng.
Ng’s final was the second for Hong Kong but he was his team’s only representative to take a title. Former top ten pair Poon Lok Yan / Tse Ying Suet were just no match for Thailand’s Jongkolphan Kititharakul / Rawinda Prajongjai (pictured).
After taking their first Grand Prix title in 2015, the Thai duo reached two Grand Prix Gold finals last year. But they had to wait until today in Sibu to claim their first title in a Grand Prix Gold event.
Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong, the youngest finalist on court, was also the closest to a major upset. She pushed former world #1 Saina Nehwal (pictured below) to extra points in both games but came up just short in each. Like her compatriots, Chochuwong still managed to improve one step on her Grand Prix Gold personal best, as it was just a few short months ago that she reached her first semi-final.
Indonesia’s Berry Angriawan won his first Grand Prix Gold title just over a year ago and added another this past autumn but the men’s doubles title on Sunday marked the first such for his partner Hardianto. The brand new pairing denied Malaysia a second title on the day when they beatn Goh/Izzudin in straight games.
The mixed doubles was an all-Malaysian affair and Tan Kian Meng / Lai Pei Jing started the year with a title where they had settled for runner-up at this event last January. Tan and Lai were in four Grand Prix Gold finals last year but won only one title.
WD: Jongkolphan Kititharakul / Rawinda Prajongjai (THA)  beat Poon Lok Yan / Tse Ying Suet (HKG) 21-17, 21-9
MS: Ng Ka Long (HKG)  beat Lee Hyun Il (KOR)  14-21, 21-15, 10-9 [Retired]
XD: Tan Kian Meng / Lai Pei Jing (MAS)  beat Goh Soon Huat / Shevon Jemie Lai (MAS) 21-17, 21-9
MD: Berry Angriawan / Hardianto (INA) beat Goh Sze Fei / Nur Izzuddin (MAS) 21-19, 21-12
WS: Saina Nehwal (IND)  beat Pornpawee Chochuwong (THA) 22-20, 22-20