JOHOR BAHARU, June 28 — Lee Chong Wei was unstoppable and the Koo Kein Keat and Tan Boon Heong combination found their winning touch to keep the Malaysian flag flying at the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold Badminton championship here today.
On a day when Malaysia had three finalists in the US$120,000 tournament, it was the World No. 1 women’s doubles pair, Chin Ee Hui and Wong Pei Tty, who found the burden of carrying the nation’s hopes a little too heavy to bear and were knocked out in straight games by an unknown pair from China.
But there was Chong Wei of course and the World No. 1 took only a little more than half an hour to beat China’s former World Junior champion Chen Long to win his second title in as many weeks.
The pre-match prediction that Chong Wei would come up against yet another great Chinese wall was blown to pieces right from the very start. Chong Wei led 6-0 but then allowed the 20-year-old Chen Long to draw level at 7-7 before the lanky Chinese pulled ahead at 8-7.
That was as far as he could go because once Chong Wei got into his stride, spraying all those delicate drops and releasing those powerful sideline smashes, the Indoor Stadium crowd here knew the Chinese resistance would soon crumble.
The opening game ended 21-16 in Chong Wei’s favour and the second game was merely an exhibition of the Malaysian’s range of shots, the delicate drop shots, the subtle net play and the ferocious smashes along the sidelines.
Chen Long, conqueror of Indonesia’s 2004 Athens Olympic gold medallist in the first round here, just could not cope and surrendered the second game 9-21 to allow Chong Wei to pick up the winner’s cheque of US$9,000.
"I felt good throughout the match even though I am carrying a slight back injury suffered in the opening round. Chen Long had a brief fightback. But I knew I was in control.
"He is a young talent and will carry China’s future. He attacks well and as he develops he will be a tough opponent in future," said Chong Wei.
He added that he will take a rest from tournaments after this and concentrate on his preparation for the World Championship in India in August.
Kien Keat and Boon Heong also smelt the sweet scent of victory today after a barren spell in the international front.
They beat fellow Malaysians Tan Bin Shen and Gan Teik Chai in a one-sided clash to add to the only international title they have won this year, the Swiss Open in March.
"Hopefully this victory will spur us on at the World Championship in August," said Kien Keat.
But there was no joy for Ee Hui and Pei Tty, comprehensively beaten by the No. 29 pair in the world, China’s Ma Jin and Wang Xiaoli 9-21,11-21 on a day when the Malaysian World No. 1 could hardly put a foot right.
Results: All finals
Mixed Doubles: Ma Jin-Zhang Bo (CHN) bt Xu Chen-Zhao Yunlei (CHN) 5-5 rtd.
Women’s Doubles: Ma Jin-Wang Xiaoli (CHN) by Chin Ee Hui-Wong Pei Tty (MAS) 21-9, 21-11.
Men’s Doubles: Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong (MAS) bt Gan Teck Chai-Tan Bin Shen (MAS) 21-11, 21-13.
Women’s Singles: Wang Shixian (CHN) bt Wang Xin (CHN) 21-16, 18-21, 21-10.
Men’s Singles: Lee Chong Wei (MAS) bt Chen Long (CHN) 21-16, 21-9.