Kuching: It was Lin Dan’s unlikeliest victory at Malaysia Open — quite a statement for a 33-year-old who has never won the tournament until Sunday.
Lin Dan was rightfully viewed as an underdog at Malaysia Open, where he arrived seeded just seventh, had to go through 3 three-setters en-route to the final, where he faced his friendly rival Lee Chong Wei in the final on sore legs.
Lin Dan vs. Lee Chong Wei - the rivalry that never gets old. (photo: Bernama)Lin Dan vs. Lee Chong Wei - the rivalry that never gets old. (photo: Bernama)
Nevertheless, Lin Dan took a more proactive approach Sunday, driving his net shots and sneak attack for much of the match. He was patience and employing well-timed aggression when the opportunities arise, and Lee — not quite at his relentless best — was unable to grind him down. With the match in his grasp when Lee was leading at 19-15 in the first set, Lee wavered while Lin Dan let his elegant strokes fly to claw back the deficit and took first game 21-19.
Lee Chong Wei failed to find a way to speed things up in the second set, unable to take advantage of Lin Dan's fatigue body that was overwhelmed and exhausted by the incredible matches of the past few days. Lee couldn't maintain his focus, making some critical uncharacteristic mistakes to end up losing the second set 21-14 in the final at the Perpaduan Stadium, Petra Jaya.
"I was not at my best, I am really disappointed, but I have to accept the loss as there are losers and winners in every competition," said Lee after the match.
Meanwhile, after clinching the match point, Lin Dan celebrated his victory by taking off his shirt and baring his muscular chest, as if he had just won another Olympic gold medal.
"It was a very entertaining match, and very high quality final," said Lin Dan.
"Actually, I was in pain after falling on the court during a semi-finals match but I was so enthused about beating Chong Wei in the final today and I am very happy to have done so," added Lin Dan.
In women's singles final, Tai Tzu Ying came through a tough battle to see off Olympic Champion Carolina Marin of Spain 23-25, 22-20, 21-13 in 86 minutes.