Hong Kong: Unseeded former world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei showed he has returned to the top of the men’s badminton world, when he bounced back after dropping the first set to trounce current world No. 1 Chen Long and reached the semi-finals at the Hong Kong Open on Friday.
Lee, chasing his fourth Hong Kong Open title, delighted his supporters by producing a sensational comeback to topple the top seed and world No. 1 Chen Long 13-21, 21-19, 21-15 in a pulsating encounter that lasted 85 minutes in the quarter-finals of Hong Kong Open. It was Lee’s second victory against Chen in 6 days after Lee defeated Chen in the China Open men’s final last Sunday.
The Malaysian former world No. 1 made a sluggish start in the first set, allowing Chen Long to open an 8-2 lead. Lee then rallied and tried to close the gap at 9-11, but his early deficit put himself in a hole too deep to climb out of and ended up losing the first set 13-21.
Lee Chong Wei adopted an aggressive style of play early the second set, hitting from both sides to lead at 6-1. However, Chen quickly got used to Lee’s attacking style, regrouped, and surged to an 18-13 lead. Lee on the verge of losing in straight sets against Chen, held his nerve, regained control in the moments that matter the most to pull off a gutsy comeback to clinch the second set 21-19 and forced a decider.
Both Lee went toe-to-toe with Chen in the decider with 6 lead changes. Chen started to make several unforced errors after 13-13, allowing Lee to seize the opportunity to leap ahead with 19-13 and never looking back to claim the third set.
Lee will face local favorite Angus Ng Ka Long of Hong Kong in the semi-finals. Riding the momentum of defeating Lin Dan on Thursday, Ng continued his impeccable form to defeat No. 5 seed Chou Tien Chen of Taiwan 21-17, 15-21, 21-15 to book a semi-finals clash with Lee Chong Wei.
The other men’s semi-finals will be between Tian Houwei of China and Ginting Anthony of Indonesia.
In men’s doubles, No. 2 seeds Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia did a great job of fending off Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang 22-20, 21-19 to book a semi-final clash against No. 3 seeds Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen of Denmark on Saturday. In the other half of the draw, No. 5 seeds Chai Biao/Hong Wei of China eased past Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong of Malaysia 21-15, 21-12 to set up a semi-final battle with top seeds Lee Yong Dae/ Yoo Yeon Seong of Korea.
Women’s singles fans could look forward to an intriguing semi-final clash between top seed Carolina Marin and No. 8 seed Wang Yihan on Saturday, while Nozomi Okuhara and No. 7 seed Ratchanok Intanon will cross paths to secure a final berth.