IT turned out to be the perfect end to the season for Malaysia’s world number one men’s singles shuttler Lee Chong Wei.
After failures to justify his lofty status as the top player in the world in previous tournaments, Chong Wei got it right with a sensational 21-8, 21-16 win over Denmark’s Peter Gade-Christensen in the final of the Super Series Masters Finals at the Likas Indoor Stadium in Kota Kinabalu yesterday.
The win earned him the biggest tournament prize money of his career — US$40,000.
Malaysia’s also won the men’s and women’s doubles through Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong and Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty respectively. And the three successes will go into the history books as the country’s best-ever achievement in a major individual championships.
Yesterday’s breakthrough was meaningful for Chong Wei and he took his time to savour every moment of it — with over 5,000 passionate fans cheering and chanting his name in the packed stadium.
Chong Wei had not won any title since taking the world number one crown from Lin Dan after the loss to the Chinese star in the Beijing Olympics final in August.
Yesterday’s win was also his easiest over Gade-Christensen.
He broke the confidence of the Dane with an explosive start and raced to 12-0 lead in just three minutes. The Dane did his best to recover and give a better fight in the second game but the on-song Chong Wei was not to be denied.
For Chong Wei, it was his third Super Series title this year after the Malaysian and Singapore Opens.
“Finally, the burden is off my shoulder. I have won a title as world number one. But I am surprised I scored an easy win over Peter,” he said.
“I skipped the Hong Kong Open (the last leg of the Super Series) to focus on getting it right here. And I am so happy that it had paid off.”
Soon after his win, Chong Wei called up his coach, Misbun Sidek, who is ill, to share the joyful moment. Misbun had been down with fever since returning from Mecca on Friday and was unable to make the trip to Kota Kinabalu.
Chong Wei agreed that the victory would have meant more to him if Lin Dan were in the competition.
“The competition would have been greater. But I will try my best to maintain this status and hopefully, I will be able to win again when every top player is in the field,” he said.
Chong Wei has set his sights on winning his first All-England title and the World Championships next year. He will take a short break before preparing for the defence of the Malaysian Open title in two weeks’ time.
World number five Gade-Christensen was a shattered man.
“It is not often that I get beaten in this manner. Chong Wei’s performances reminded me of how Lin Dan defeated him to win the Olympic gold medal. Their speed is impressive.”