KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei is just one step away from winning his 10th Malaysian Open title but hang on! The man he was least expected to meet – Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto – could spoil his party.
Chong Wei and Tommy won their semi-final matches in contrasting fashion at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Saturday to set up an intriguing men’s singles final on Sunday.
Chong Wei stepped onto the court bracing for a gigantic fight from Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark. Instead, his opponent gave up halfway due to a muscle strain on his right thigh.
Chong Wei won 21-13, 3-0 in 27 minutes.
Nine-time champion Chong Wei said that he thought Jorgensen was trying to “buy time” at first when he requested for medical assistance after the opening match.
“But I was wrong. He was injured all right,” said Chong Wei.
“He was not himself after the break and tried to push himself but he just couldn’t. I’m sorry that it had to end this way,” added the Malaysian, who took time to comfort Jorgensen.
On paper, the 31-year-old Chong Wei is fancied to underline his status as the “King of the Malaysian Open” because he has defeated Tommy the last eight times.
Chong Wei, however, is not prepared to underestimate his opponent.
“He has reached the final after beating (Kenichi) Tago ... that speaks a lot about his credibility. I have played him many times and he has grown over the years,” said Chong Wei.
“Right now, I’m experiencing mixed emotions. I’m excited about winning for the 10th time ... but, at the same time, there is also pressure on me to achieve it. I have to contain all these and focus on giving my best if I want to win.”
The 26-year-old Tommy, while elated at making it to the final, was disappointed with Tago for a lack of sportsmanship during their match. At the start of the match, Tommy’s hard tap at the net hit Tago’s face. Instead of accepting Tommy’s constant apologies, the Japanese became angry and emotional.
That probably marked the downfall of Tago as he lost his focus somewhat, allowing Tommy to dictate terms.
“He is my friend but I was surprised when he got rather emotional ... I have never seen him like this. He became emotional and I took advantage of the situation,” said Tommy.
On his match against Chong Wei, he said: “He has dominated here for so long and is a very experienced player but I’m going to give everything I’ve got to win my first Super Series title.”