SINGAPORE OPEN Finals – Simon finds his ‘Wei’ back to a Superseries title

Simon Santoso stole the spotlight at the 2014 OUE , when he beat world #1 and tournament favourite Lee Chong Wei. With an impressive 21-15, 21-10 victory, Santoso clinched his first title since Indonesia Open 2012.

By Serla Rusli and Seria Rusli, Badzine Correspondents live from Singapore Indoor Stadium. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

The seemingly unstoppable Lee, who had not dropped a single game on his way to the finals, struggled to keep pace with Santoso’s well-thought and perfectly executed strategy. Often times, the unseeded Indonesian stunned the Malaysian with his accurate and unpredictable shots, and did not give Lee a single chance to lead the game.

“I think Simon played very well today. I have never seen him play that well before,” admitted Lee Chong Wei (pictured left).

“I felt that Chong Wei seemed to be a bit under pressure today. He was making a lot of unforced errors, which probably caused him to play safe in his shots,” commented the newly crowned champion on his opponent’s performance. “I am happy with my performance today since I was able to execute all the strategies well.”

“It has been a while since I beat Lee Chong Wei. And also, since I had to start from the qualifying round, I feel very satisfied with my result in this tournament.”

Simon Santoso (pictured right) has faced a few setbacks in his badminton career over the past few years. Due to suffering from mumps at the end of 2012, he had to miss many tournaments and his world ranking plummeted from world #5 to #100. 2013 was not a good year for him either – he struggled with injuries and his health condition adversely affected his performance. This year in January, he decided to resign from Pelatnas PBSI after failing to perform in the Korea and Malaysia Open , and was officially out of the Indonesian national team after being groomed there for 12 years.

“This is a very important victory for me, especially since I won the title by beating Lee Chong Wei, whom I think is one of the world’s best players at the moment. I feel very happy and proud of this achievement. I am right now fighting to make a comeback and winning this title proves that I can still become a champion and motivates me to keep trying harder.”

“I am really grateful to my coach who has supported me and believed in me all this while. I am also really thankful to my sponsor and supporters. It is great to see that there are quite a number of Indonesian supporters here in Singapore,” thanked the humble Indonesian. “I still have a long way to go, and I will focus on keeping my performance stable in the next few tournaments.”

Adding to Santoso’s glory, the defending champions Tontowi Ahmad/Lilyana Natsir (pictured left) also kept the Indonesian flag flying high in Singapore. In a thrilling all-Indonesian final, the more experienced Ahmad/Natsir ruled over their juniors Riky Widianto/Puspita Richi Dili 21-15, 22-20.

“We felt that we have given it our best in today’s match, but our opponents played better than us and gave us more pressure,” explained Dili. “We have known each other’s strengths and weaknesses from our practice sessions, so we just applied whatever we know during the match.” Despite not winning the competition, Widianto/Dili created a new milestone in their partnership as this was their first finals.

For Ahmad and Natsir, on the other hand, appearing in the finals is no new feat. In fact, with this year’s victory, they have successfully bagged their hat-trick title in Singapore. “We feel really happy to win the tournament today, and we thank all the fans for supporting us today,” said the beaming Tontowi.

“Since we are the favourites for the tournament, the pressure was on us more to win the title. Meanwhile, for Riky and Puspita, they had nothing to lose. So we are really happy and grateful to be able to win this tournament again,” said Lilyana, who has bagged more titles than anyone else.

China was the only other country to share the glory with Indonesia – as they swept the other three titles in Singapore in Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles and Women’s Singles.

In the Men’s Doubles discipline, Cai Yun/Lu Kai (pictured right) upset the sixth seeded Taiwanese pair, Lee Sheng Mu/Chia Hsin Tsai 21-19, 21-14.

“It feels very good winning this. It is the first time we get such a good result as a pair. I think Lu Kai was a bit nervous in the first game, but he became better as the game progressed and that made a lot of difference,” commented Cai Yun, who with his previous partner Fu Haifeng is a former world #1 and the reigning Olympic champions.

Bao Yixin/Tang Jinhua (pictured below) reigned over their Danish opponents and first seed Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl after a fiery 14-21, 21-19, 21-15 battle.

“This was the closest that our match has gone compared to our past two encounters. We decided to give it all out in this match, which I think is the reason why we played so well in the first game. Our opponents played a bit better in the second game, and we simply couldn’t find our gameplay. We managed to close in at the end, but it was too late,” said Juhl.

In a repeat of 2013 women’s singles finals, Wang Yihan once again reigned over her world #1 Chinese compatriot Li Xuerui 21-11, 21-19.

“We have played each other so often in competition and in practice. I think we have the same skill sets and abilities, so it just depends on who plays better on that day.”

Final results
XD: Tontowi Ahmad / Lilyana Natsir (INA) [1] beat Riky Widianto / Puspita Richi Dili (INA) [8]  21-15, 22-20
WS: Wang Yihan (CHN) [2] beat Li Xuerui (CHN) [1]  21-11, 21-19
MD: Cai Yun / Lu Kai (CHN) beat Lee Sheng Mu / Tsai Chia Hsin (TPE) [6]  21-19, 21-14
WD:  Bao Yixin / Tang Jinhua (CHN) [2] beat Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN) [1]  14-21, 21-19, 21-15
MS:  Simon Santoso (INA) beat Lee Chong Wei (MAS) [1] 21-15, 21-10

Click here for complete, detailed results

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