KUALA LUMPUR: World number one shuttler Lee Chong Wei came out smiling after surviving one of his toughest matches against Mohd Hafiz Hashim in years in the quarter-finals of the Hong Kong Open yesterday.
Despite an easy first-game loss and trailing 13-18 in the decider against Hafiz, Chong Wei remained rock steady under tremendous pressure to win 10-21, 21-15, 24-22 in 50 minutes.
Today, the top seed will take on China’s Bao Chunlai for a place in the final.
Chong Wei, who had skipped two tournaments in Europe – Denmark Open and French Open – because of a knee injury, was glad he decided to compete in Hong Kong.
“I was quite happy after the win. All my hard work to make a quick comeback was worth it. Initially, I was not expected to be ready for this tournament,” said Chong Wei in a telephone interview yesterday.
But Chong Wei did fear the worst when he was thrashed 10-21 by an attacking Hafiz in the opening game.
“It was my first tournament in many weeks and I was quite cautious, fearing I would aggravate the injury,” he said. “Hafiz was in fiery form and I was making silly mistakes. It was a horrible opening game for me.
“As the game progressed, I became more confident. In fact, I was not prepared to give in although Hafiz had a big lead in the decider. I just hung in there and it all worked out well for me in the end.”
Chong Wei, however, took his hat off to Hafiz.
“It has been quite a while since Hafiz fought this hard against me. He showed that he really wanted to win today (yesterday),” said Chong Wei.
“It will be great for Malaysia if Hafiz can continue playing like this.
“I will have less burden on my shoulders and we will have more than one player to count on at the SEA Games (in Laos this year) and the Thomas Cup Finals (next year).”
On his challenge against Chunlai today, Chong Wei said that he hoped to maintain his fighting spirit.
“This is the first time I will be playing against Bao this year. It will not be easy but I will be ready,” he said.
Chunlai, who is looked at as China’s great hope in the absence of three-time world champion Lin Dan, ended the run of Indonesian qualifier Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka with a 21-15, 21-15 win yesterday. The other men’s singles semi-final will be between Denmark’s Peter-Gade Christensen and Japan’s Kenichi Tago.
Quarter final results
Men’s singles: Lee Chong Wei (Mas) bt Mohd Hafiz Hashim (Mas) 10-21, 21-15, 24-22; Bao Chunlai (Chn) bt Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka (Ina) 21-15, 21-15; Peter-Gade Christensen (Den) bt Simon Santoso (Ina) 21-12, 21-8; Kenichi Tago (Jpn) bt Chan Yan Kit (Hkg) 19-21, 21-9, 21-12.
Men’s doubles: Alven Yulianto-Hendra Gunawan (Ina) bt Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan (Ina) 21-11, 21-18; Jung Jae-sung-Lee Yong-dae (Kor) bt Anthony Clark-Nathan Robertson (Eng) 17-21, 21-16, 21-16; Lars Paaske-Jonas Rasmussen (Den) bt Hendra Wijaya-Hendri Kuniawan Saputra (Sin) 21-16, 21-17; Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah (Mas) bt Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong (Mas) 21-12, 21-17.
Women’s singles: Wang Lin (Chn) bt Bae Seung-hee (Kor) 21-18, 21-5; Jiang Yanjiao (Chn) bt Wang Shixian (Chn) 21-18, 21-13; Wang Yihan (Chn) bt Lu Lan (Chn) 21-17, 21-15; Wang Xin (Chn) bt Pi Hongyan (Fra) 21-13, 21-18
Women’s doubles: Ma Jin-Wang Xiaoli (Chn) bt Ha Jung-eun-Lee Kyung-won (Kor) 21-13, 21-16; Cheng Shu-Zhao Yunlei (Chn) bt Kim Min-jung-Park Sun-young (Kor) 21-11, 23-21; Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty (Mas) bt Chien Yu-chin-Wang Pei-rong (Tpe) 21-17, 21-15; Du Jing-Yu Yang (Chn) bt Tian Qing-Zhang Yawen (Chn) 21-17, 21-10.
Mixed doubles: Nova Widianto-Lilyana Natsir (Ina) bt He Hanbin-Yu Yang (Chn) 19-21, 21-9, 21-9; Fang Chieh-min-Wang Pei-rong (Tpe) bt Qiu Zihan-Tian Qing (Chn) 21-18, 21-19; Hendra Gunawan-Vita Marissa (Ina) bt Fran Kurniawan Teng-Pia Zebadiah Bernadet (Ina) 22-20, 18-21, 21-11; Robert Mateusiak-Nadiezda Kostiuczyk (Pol) bt Anthony Clark-Donna Kellogg (Eng) 21-13, 21-16.