Lin Dan captured his first ever Malaysia Open title, beating 11-time winner Lee Chong Wei in convincing fashion.
By Don Hearn. Photos: Mikael Ropars / Badmintonphoto (live)
11 years ago, Lee Chong Wei was the defending champion but the rally point system was brand new and his rivalry with now fellow legend Lin Dan (pictured) was relatively new too. It is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that the sight of Lee Chong Wei pulling off that shocking comeback from 13-20 down to win that match in Kuching won over a lot of badminton fans to the new scoring system.
Today marked the first time since then that the two giants of men’s singles badminton played each other in a Malaysia Open and they just happened to be in the same venue in the Sarawak capital. This time, however, Lin Dan would brook no comeback and instead took his second game with a 4-point run, winning on his first match point opportunity.
Lin Dan has now won titles at 12 of the 15 historical Superseries events. Only the India, Singapore, and Indonesia Open titles have eluded him. Lee Chong Wei, whose collection is missing only the Australian Open and China Masters, is the only one with greater coverage of the men’s singles Superseries map.
Tai silences Marin
She may be the European and Olympic champion but Carolina Marin’s Superseries title drought continues. She hasn’t won a title since the 2015 Hong Kong Open. She and world #1 Tai Tzu Ying (pictured) put on quite a show today but after Marin, then Tai, won their games on their fourth game point, Tai dominated the deciding game.
Tai has now won four of the last five Superseries tournaments, the only omission being last week’s India Open, where she didn’t compete. She had some major trouble finishing games against Marin, Sung Ji Hyun, and Chen Yufei this week but for the rest of the field, they will have to wait for another week to get another shot at the champion.
More new faces
For the second straight week, the women’s doubles title has gone to a first-time Superseries finalist from Japan. Last week in India, it was Tanaka/Yonemoto who topped the podium but in Kuching, it was the turn of Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota (pictured).
The German Open winners were a game up against Huang Yaqiong / Tang Jinhua of China and worked hard to even the score and get within inches of a straight-game victory at 18-all before the Chinese players upped the pressure and forced the decider.
In the third game, the Chinese pair had almost erased the small gap that the Japanese had held at the interval when Hirota executed a perfectly placed block that sent Tang skidding to the mat, a move that caused her to request medical attention. The Chinese pair continued to push back in every rally but the Japanese still pulled off an incredible 8-point run to finish the match and earn the title.
Zheng held to 1, Indonesians extend to 3
20-year-old Zheng Siwei had an excellent chance to become the first male player since Lee Yong Dae to win a doubles double at a Superseries event. In the opening match of the afternoon, he and Chen Qingchen (pictured) snapped the title streak by their compatriots Lu/Huang to take their first mixed title of the year. Chen thus extended her record for the most Superseries titles as a teenager to 7. In Dubai, she had caught and passed Lee Yong Dae, who had held the record at 5.
In the last match of the day, Zheng Siwei was back on court with the great Fu Haifeng. Playing together for the first time this week, at the end of a nearly 6-month hiatus from international badminton for Fu, the Chinese aces were the last ones who had a chance of denying Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (pictured below) a third straight Superseries title.
In the first game, the Indonesians were just as flamboyant and dominating as they have been all year but in the second, Fu and Zheng were able to force Sukamuljo to play from below the tape at the front and off high lifts at the back and they set up their chances and punished plenty of loose returns from the Indonesians.
In the third game, the momentum swung back firmly to the Indonesian side. Gideon continued to make his smashes count, Sukamuljo came up with more shots no one has seen before, and both players got back the sharpness they’d had in the opening game.
The Indonesians are thus only the third men’s doubles pair to go undefeated in their first six Superseries finals. The last pair to do so was Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong, who lost their seventh. If the Indonesians can win next week in Singapore, they will tie Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong, who won the first seven Superseries finals they reached over the better part of three years.
XD: Zheng Siwei / Chen Qingchen (CHN)  beat Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong (CHN)  21-15, 21-18
WS: Tai Tzu Ying (TPE)  beat Carolina Marin (ESP)  23-25, 22-20, 21-13
MS: Lin Dan (CHN)  beat Lee Chong Wei (MAS)  21-19, 21-14
WD: Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota (JPN) beat Huang Yaqiong / Tang Jinhua (CHN) 21-17, 18-21, 21-12
MD: Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA)  beat Fu Haifeng / Zheng Siwei (CHN) 21-14, 14-21, 21-12