MALAYSIA OPEN 2018 Finals – Lee Chong Wei makes it a cool dozen

Lee Chong Wei won the 12th Malaysia Open title of his career with a brilliant win over Kento Momota. By Don Hearn.  Photos: Yves Lacroix / Badmintonphoto (live) Lee Chong […]

Lee Chong Wei won the 12th title of his career with a brilliant win over Kento Momota.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Yves Lacroix / Badmintonphoto (live)

Lee Chong Wei (pictured) took an incredible 12th career title at his home event, the Malaysia Open.  This time, it took a fantastic mix of patience and boldness to save 4 game points before taking the second game from Kento Momota 23-21.

On the last point, Lee watched Momota’s shot sail past the back line and was in the process of sinking to his knees as the line judge called the shuttle ‘in’.  The Hawkeye line call challenge gave the confirmation that the Malaysian had, in fact, won the match and he collapsed to the floor with an air of great relief that he did not have to play on.

At 13-6 six in the decider, Lee looked to be running away with the match but things got very tense for the home favourite as Momota whittled away at the lead and finally passed Lee at 19-18.  Both players continued their amazing net precision and court coverage but it was Lee who worked the long rallies to his favour in the crucial stages and came out on top.

If Lee Chong Wei’s 12th success in 14 Malaysia Open finals was the performance all his fans expected of him, another finalist in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday was wishing he could have reversed his own trend.  Hiroyuki Endo, who had been winless in 7 finals in the era, also had to concede defeat in his first Sunday appearance.  He and Yuta Watanabe had no answer to the fast-paced attacking play of their compatriots Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda and barely got into double figures in the second game of their men’s doubles final.

Japan took two titles on the day, in fact, as Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (pictured) won the showdown between the reigning Olympic gold medallists and the reigning World Champions.  They won a pair of 21-12 games over Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan, who looked almost as helpless as their own opponents had in their last two matches.  The Japanese had both the strategy and the execution they needed to have their way with their younger opponents.

Two finals featured repeat winners from last year’s edition of the Malaysia Open.  First up was 2017 mixed winner Zheng Siwei.  With Chen Qingchen now focussing exclusively on women’s doubles, Zheng has combined to be just as lethal with Huang Yaqiong (pictured bottom), last year’s mixed doubles runner-up.

Zheng and Huang were never able to relax and coast in their final against compatriots Wang Yilyu / Huang Dongping but they did have what it took to finish off both games and avoid a decider.  The new pair will take their place this week at #2 in the world rankings for the first time, coming in just below their Kuala Lumpur opponents.  With two events in hand, it will be surprising if Zheng does not pull Huang up to #1 status at some point this summer.

The other repeat winner was Tai Tzu Ying (pictured).  The only world #1 to win on the day, Tai surged at exactly the right time, to save 3 game points in the opener.  The second game was an unmitigated showcase of her brilliance as she took apart He Bingjiao and cruised to her 4th title of the year, including 3 on the BWF World Tour and the Asian Championship.

All the top players will be back in action this coming week at the Indonesia Open

Final results
XD: Zheng Siwei / Huang Yaqiong (CHN) [4] beat Wang Yilyu / Huang Dongping (CHN) [2]  21-19, 21-18
WD: Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) [5] beat Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan (CHN) [1]  21-12, 21-12
WS:  Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) [1] beat He Bingjiao (CHN) [8]  22-20, 21-11
MD:  Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (JPN) [6] beat Hiroyuki Endo / Yuta Watanabe (JPN)  21-8, 21-10
MS:  Lee Chong Wei (MAS) [7] beat Kento Momota (JPN)  21-17, 23-21

Click here for complete results

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @