Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s 18-year-old shuttler Leong Jun Hao won his first international title at the senior level after overcoming compatriot Cheam Jun Wei 12-21, 21-17, 22-20 in 63 minutes at the Vantaan Energia Arena in Vantaa, Finland on Sunday.
Leong’s best previous achievement in the senior level was runner up at the Thailand’s Masters in January 2018.
The 2017 Asian junior champion told reporters that it was a lucky win as Cheam has provided him a spirited challenge in the final.
“June Wei played very well especially in the first set. He also played well at the beginning of second set, before I raised my game to win the game,” said Leong.
“I was pretty much in control in the decider, but June Wei did not give me an easy route as he kept chasing from behind. Perhaps I was luckier today as I just won by two points in the third set,” added Leong.
The victory has done Leong a huge favor as the race for the fourth men’s singles berth is still open for the Malaysian Thomas Cup roster.
In addition to Leong, Cheam June Wei, Soong Joo Ven and professional shuttler Goh Giap Chin are also in the radar of the men’s singles coach Misbun Sidek to be potential men’s singles candidate for the Thomas Cup team.
Meanwhile, Goh Yea Ching/Yap Cheng Wen failed to win the women’s doubles title at Finnish Open by going down to Asumi Kugo/Megumi Yokoyama 24-22, 15-21, 13-21.
At the Osaka International Challenge in Japan, Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif/Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub of Malaysia showed their resilience but couldn’t find way to crack local players Hirokatsu Hashimoto/Hiroyuki Saeki’s composure in the decider, losing 19-21, 21-15, 15-21 in a 59 minutes battle.
Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif, Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub and Lim Khim Wah have been invited to return to the Malaysian national team for a three-month probation on April 16th.