KUALA LUMPUR: It took Japan’s Kenichi Tago 15 attempts in five years to finally score his first win over world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and he did it in style at the French Open.
The 24-year-old Kenichi pulled off the win in a ruthless manner when he clawed back from one game down for a 17-21, 21-16, 21-12 win over Chong in a 61-minute semi-final match on Saturday.
Kenichi, who has never beaten Chong Wei since his first defeat at the 2009 Swiss Open in March, will take on Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen in the men’s singles final.
The defeat for Chong Wei ended his hope of winning the French Open for the third time.
It was also his second disappointment within two weeks. Last week, he lost to Chen Long of China in the final of the Denmark Open.
As predicted, the match between Chong Wei and Kenichi was closely fought but this time, it was Kenichi, who took more initiaves to slam down the winners.
Chong Wei started well in the opening game to outfox the Japanese with some of his tricky moves but Kenichi upped the tempo in the second game to push the Malaysian deep into trouble.
And it did not help when Chong Wei made many errors in the decider and seemed out of sorts.
With Chong Wei out, the hope is now on Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong to bring joy for Malaysia on the final day.
On Saturday, Kien Keat-Boon Heong, showed their hunger for success, when they ended the gallant run of their team-mates Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong 21-19, 15-21, 21-18 in 57 minutes to reach the final in Paris.
Thien How-Wee Kiong had done well on Friday when they pulled the rug from under reigning Denmark Open champions Lee Yong-dae-Yoo Yeon-seong of South Korea.
It was their first semi-final in a Super Series and biggest career win this year.
On Saturday, though they could not reproduce the same brilliance that saw them beating the Koreans.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong will take on Indonesia’s young and and old partnership of Gideon Markus Fernaldi-Markis Kido for the title. Markis was was former world champion with Hendra Setiawan but both have been teamed up with younger partners after the London Olympic Games.
Kien Keat, who just got married prior to the back-to-back Denmark and French Opens, will be hoping that his good luck in Paris will continue.
He has won the French Open title once with Gan Teik Chai nine years ago in 2004.
Together with Boon Heong, Kien Keat had also reached the final of the World Championships in Paris in 2010 before going down to Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng of China in the final.
This time, Kien Keat will be out to nick it with Boon Heong for the first time and if they continue to show their determination and committment on court, the title is theirs for the taking.
The duo last tasted success in the Super Series when they won the 2010 Malaysian Open.
Meanwhile, it was all over for top mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying in the French Open when they went down tamely 14-21, 12-21 to top seeds Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei of China.
It was their fourth defeat to the Chinese pair.