Dato’ Lee Chong Wei got himself his 9th home ground title to make up for Chan/Goh’s loss to Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen. Earlier in the day, Tai Tzu Ying earned her second Superseries crown by silencing Yao Xue of China, while Mohammad Ahsan got his first as he and Hendra Setiawan stopped Ko Sung Hyun / Lee Yong Dae from reaching the throne.
By Ooi Ee Lyn, Badzine Correspondent live in Kuala Lumpur. Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)
By owning the match against Sony Dwi Kuncoro (photo) of Malaysia, Juara Kampung Lee Chong Wei claimed his sixth consecutive title at home, and carved his name for the ninth time on the hall of fame of the Malaysia Open, breaking Wong Peng Soon’s record of eight Malaysia Open victories. Lee was Malaysian champion for three straight years starting in year 2004, and the string broke when he lost to Bao Chunlai of China in the quarter-finals in 2007, allowing Peter Gade to receive his second title in Malaysia. Since 2008, the Malaysian has been unbeatable and has managed to keep the crown at home.
Failing to stop Lee Chong Wei (photo) after a 32-minute battle, Sony Dwi Kuncoro said, “I tried extraordinarily my best to enter the finals. It’s a good start for me although I lost. Lee Chong Wei is good, and I have to improve the quality of my games. For whatever that I am lacking, I will correct them and continue to work harder.”
The Malaysian, on the other hand, showed his gratitude for the home crowd the moment he sat down on the chair at the press conference. “Thanks to all the Malaysian fans for coming to support me in the stadium,” he began. “Although Peng Soon and Liu Ying lost, I’m glad to see a full stadium. I think it’s the fullest I’ve seen throughout the whole week. I’m very happy that I got my ninth win, as winning nine times is not easy, and the pressure is very high on me to reach this far,” said Lee.
Having hammered his victory in 21-7, 21-8, the champion said, “The scoreline may make it look easy, but I can say it was tough. Sony was relentless on defence. He kept returning most of my shots, and I had to lift all his shots and read his game before finding the open areas to exploit. This win gives me the right confidence to face the challenges at the coming All England.”
As his supporters may be getting concerned of his age and condition, Chong Wei, who turned 30 three months ago, explained, “It is a question of mental strength, not physical. As long as I think of winning, I will try, and try again.” When asked whether he would attempt for a tenth Malaysian title, he said, “It’s a solid target, but my priority still lies on international meets.”
Chan/Goh halted a step away from the summit
Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying (photo) were a mere step away from receiving the historical mixed doubles title at home as they were defeated by Olympic bronze medallists and 2011 Malaysia Open semi-finalists Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen in the stadium occupied by supporters roaring for them despite their falling short. Goh’s return of a shot landed out and fixed the victory for the Danes, but the spectators continued to cheer as if the local pair had won.
At the post-match press conference, Chan said, “It is fine to have entered the finals without being able to win the tournament, but it’s not satisfying. We hoped to win.” The first seeds and world #3 made it to the semi-finals last year before losing to eventual champions, Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei.
In reply to a question whether they look at themselves as a top pair in mixed doubles, Chan stated, “We may be the world number three, but we still have much to learn from the top players. We’re not experienced enough.”
Meanwhile, Christinna Pedersen, who was women’s doubles champion in Malaysia last year, was glad to be able to clinch a title in the mixed this time around. Her partner, Joachim Fischer Nielsen (photo) commented about the deafening cheer from the crowd, saying, “Almost all the match, the crowd was loud. There was so much noise and we couldn’t hear anything. Our coach was trying to tell us to stay calm, but we couldn’t hear that.”
However, the pair was really happy to have won the Malaysians in Kuala Lumpur, as Fischer Nielsen said, “Two years ago, I said to my partner that we have to come back to win. I wasn’t here last year because I was injured, but I’m here now.”
Tzu Ying’s smooth sail
She may be young and not as nicely decorated as some of her opponents in the previous rounds, but she’s had a smooth sail in Kuala Lumpur. Tai Tzu Ying’s (photo) little boat went with the flow and ended smoothly at the best port of the stream. The teen “Taitan” has made herself known this week as a carefree and optimistic lady, especially with her infamous saying, “Just go with the flow.”
The young lady seemed to have noticed while playing her match that the crowd at the stadium were mostly cheering for her. About that, she smiled widely, and showed her thumb up as she exclaimed, “EXCELLENT!”
Tai, who claims to be an admirer of Peter Gade, flashed a wide grin post-match, saying, “I’m happy, but it seems Yao Xue wasn’t in her best form.” When asked how it feels to have received the prize money, she paused for a moment before replying, “Actually, I don’t know how much it is. I forgot to look!” She grinned, and was told that the price money was US$30,000, to which the 18-year-old hesitated and said, “Is that a lot? I don’t know either,” causing a burst of laughter in the hall.
Ahsan’s first title
Title favourites Lee Yong Dae and Ko Sung Hyun lost to 2008 Olympic gold medallist Hendra Setiawan and his new partner, Mohammad Ahsan (photo), and failed to grab their second title in two weeks after naming themselves champions in Seoul last week. About the loss, Lee Yong Dae explained, “We did not underestimate our opponents. We know they’re strong. They played well and were good at the net. We were leading at first, and it was our mistake that we couldn’t keep that up.”
Hendra Setiawan, the senior of the Indonesian pair, said, “It was a good win. It gave us more confidence, especially for the upcoming All England and German Open.” He also gave an advice to his new partner who had split from the pairing with Bona Septano. “Don’t let this momentum of our good partnership stop.”
In reply, Mohammad Ahsan, who had just won his first Superseries title, answered, “I tried my best with my previous partner, but there was no achievement so we had to split. Hopefully these good results will last.”
In the women’s doubles final, Bao Yixin, semi-finalist with Zhong Qianxin in 2012, returned to the Putra Stadium with Tian Qing to earn their first title as a pair, as they steamrolled past second seeds Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi of Japan in straight games of 21-16, 21-14.
WS: Tai Tzu Ying (TPE)  bt Yao Xue (CHN) 21-17, 21-14
XD: Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN)  bt Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (MAS)  21-13, 21-18
WD: Bao Yixin / Tian Qing (CHN)  bt Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN)  21-16, 21-14
MD: Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (INA) bt Ko Sung Hyun / Lee Yong Dae (KOR)  21-15, 21-13
MS: Lee Chong Wei (MAS)  bt Sony Dwi Kuncoro (INA)  21-7 21-8
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