CLASSY: Chong Wei remains untouchable on home ground but the ageing player hints of retirement
LEE Chong Wei proved that he is the king of the (Maybank) Malaysia Open as he accomplished the goal of winning the 10th title and also dropped a strong hint that he is set to retire at the end of this year.
The pressure had weighed on Chong Wei who had a sluggish start against Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia before winning 21-19, 21-9 in 47 minutes at Putra Stadium yesterday to become the most successful player in the men's singles of the Malaysia Open.
No player has won the same tournament more than eight times. Wong Peng Soon had won the Malaysia Open (then Malaya Open) eight times while Rudy Hartono and Denmark's Morten Frost Hansen had reached similar numbers in the All England and Denmark Open respectively.
The pressure on Chong Wei yesterday was clearly visible as he found it hard to raise his level in the first game and trailed 4-8. He also had to save a game point at 19-20 to secure a close victory at 21-19.
It was a stroll after that and Chong Wei sank to his knees in relief after securing the winning point.
"I was under so much pressure throughout the week due to the expectations of winning the 10th title and I am relieved I have completed the job," said Chong Wei.
"This could also be my last Malaysia Open as I may retire at the end of the year. If I stay free of injuries, I may consider continuing with my career. If not I will retire.
"I was initially planning to play until the 2016 Olympics but it is three years away and I don't think I can make it.
"I also have my family to look after and there has also been some personal problems."
Chong Wei will take a break for the Chinese New Year to celebrate with his wife and son Kingston before returning to training to focus on the All England.
"I will focus on winning the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games as well as the World Championships," he added.
"I also hope the younger players like Liew Daren and Chong Wei Feng can take over from me."
Chong Wei's pending retirement is another issue the BA of Malaysia (BAM) had to address besides facing the problem of putting its house in order.
BAM has been attracting sponsors due to Chong Wei's success and the association could suffer a financial loss if it doesn't identify Chong Wei's successor soon.
BAM may now have to concentrate on its efforts to improve the level of the national men's singles players and the association's efforts of recruiting Morten Frost Hansen also may not materialise.
Frost, who had three-year stint between 1997 and 2000 as the national director of coaching, has been approached for a similar role by the BAM officials but the Dane has stated he is not keen due to his role as commentator and other business ventures.