Chong Wei raises the bar


KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei enjoyed the best season in his badminton career when he captured the Hong Kong Open title for the first time in superb fashion yesterday.

The top seeded Chong Wei brought out the best in him to survive a strong challenge from Denmark’s Peter-Gade Christen­sen, winning an energy-sapping 59-minute final 21-13, 13-21, 21-16.

It was his fourth Super Series title after having won in Malaysia, Switzerland and Indonesia. Chong Wei also won two other international titles – the Grand Prix Gold events in Malaysia and Macau.

The 27-year-old Chong Wei has never won more than five Open titles in a year and is delighted that he managed to make the breakthrough yesterday.

“It is certainly double joy for me here today. I won my first title in Hong Kong after two failed attempts in the final (in 2006 and 2007),” he said in a telephone interview.

“And it is also the best year in my career. I finished with only five last season.”

But the win yesterday was not handed on a platter to Chong Wei by the Danish veteran.

Despite strong resistance from Christensen, Chong Wei stayed dominant in the opening game with his solid defence and flurry of attacks.

Not wanting to be outdone, Christensen replied with an equally brilliant game in the second to force a decider.

In the rubber game, though, Chong Wei came out superior with his tight net shots and slicing smashes. In fact, he left the Dane in sheer frustration when he made some seemingly impossible retrievals.

“None of my matches against Peter had been easy ones. And as expected, I had my moments of pressure and tension,” he said.

“I was tensed when he bridged the gap after I took a 17-10 lead. But I was just too determined to win today.”

More than the win, Chong Wei said that he was happy with his quick recovery from injury.

“I was able to come back to the top level again after two months. And that has certainly given me a huge dose of confidence,” he said.

“It is never easy to climb to the top, especially after an injury. But today, I proved to myself that anything is possible if I put a lot of work into it.”

Coach Misbun Sidek continues to be amazed by Chong Wei’s will to maintain his status as the world No. 1.

“Nothing stops this player from attaining success. After the injury, he neither took it easy nor wallowed in self pity. He worked so hard for the last two weeks to claim this reward,” he said.

Misbun hopes that Chong Wei will keep up the momentum in this week’s China Open.

“The field is tougher in Shanghai and I hope he will not be satisfied with this win. He will have to raise his game even higher,” he said.

The China Open is the last leg of the Super Series and world champion Lin Dan, who skipped the Hong Kong meet, will be Chong Wei’s major stumbling block.


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