World No.1 Lee Chong Wei dug deep to overcome a resilient Peter Gade 21-12, 12-21, 21-15 to win the inaugural $200,000 India Open Super Series badminton men’s singles title here Sunday.
In the women’s singles final, Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk had a comparatively easy outing as she beat third-seeded South Korean Youn Joo Bae 21-13, 21-16 in 31 minutes.
Gade, 34, showed exceptional skills and energy as he matched the top seeded Malaysian, six years his junior, stroke for stroke. He valiantly countered Lee but fell short at the end of a thrilling 62 minute match in front of an impressive turnout, which was vociferously backing the veteran Dane.
Gade was leading 6-2 in a tense decider and Lee, for the first time in the tournament, reflected nerves. But the Malyasian shot back like a champion and put it beyond Gade.
The Dane fought till the end and went all out to return two powerful strokes from the Malaysian at the match point. He, however, tumbled down while attempting to reach out for the third one.
Lee then crossed the net and lent his hand to Gade. The crowd stood up and acknowledged the players, especially Gade, having been treated to a brilliant game of badminton.
"He is the best player at the moment. He is unbeatable. Sometimes Lin Dan gets the better of him. I played really well and I am happy I took a game against him and that, too, 21-12, it shows I am still good," said Gade.
"I gave my best. He has tremendous confidence and it is difficult to break it. But he was shaken when I was leading in the third game. But then I gave away some easy points and he came back. But he is too much high up there."
Lee was all praise for the senior pro.
"I am happy to win the inaugural India Open Super Series. It was a tough match. I have great respect for him (Gade). He is a fighter and at 34 he is still fighting on the court. I don’t know what I will be doing at 34," said Lee, who won his fourth title of the year after winning the Super Series Finals, his second All England Open title, and seventh Malyasian Open crown.
It was the 13th time that Gade was meeting Lee and had beaten him only once in the Korea Open in 2009. But Gade was determined to throw his weight over the odds stacked against him.
In the first game, Gade led 4-2, but slumped to a slew of errors and Lee swiftly took seven points on trot for a 9-3 lead. Gade tried to pull things back with some fine smashes and drop shots from the backcourt but Lee firmly controlled the rallies to go up a game.
Gade made a brave fightback in the second game. Both tested each other at the net and the mid-court. They played some delectable late strokes. But the Malaysian playing on the faster side of court struggled to control his shots and made a stream of errors.
In contrast, Gade played fluently and was superb with his drop shots. He enthralled the crowd, which was chanting his name, with some exciting retrieves.
The two were neck and neck until Gade surged ahead to establish a 14-10 lead. He consolidated the lead with some plucky cross-court smashes and it was soon 1-1 with Gade punching his fist in the air.
A confident Gade looked on a roll, much to the discomfort of Lee, who beat him twice at the Super Series Finals in Taiwan in January.
The Dane opened up a 6-2 lead in the decider but Lee, stepped up his pace and showed good court-craft to reel off six straight points to level at 8-8.
At 9-11, Gade was unlucky with a line call that went against him though Lee had hit the shuttle out. An usually calm Dane almost pleaded with the umpire with the crowd firmly behind him but to no avail.
Lee, however, didn’t let it affect him and played ruthlessly to snuff out Gade’s challenge.
Mixed doubles: Tantowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir (Indonesia) beat Fran Kurniawan and Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth (Indonesia) 21-18, 23-21.
Men’s singles: Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia) beat Peter Gade (Denmark) 21-12, 12-21, 21-15
Women’s singles: Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (Thailand) beat Youn Joo Bae (South Korea) 21-13, 21-16.
Women’s doubles: Miyuki Maeda and Satoko Suetsuna (Japan) beat Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa (Japan) 26-24, 21-15.