Lee Chong Wei was forced to work hard to win the quarter-final match against Indonesia's Tommy Sugiarto in the Japan Open. -AFP
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei battled his way to the semi-finals of the Japan Open in a day China suffered another severe blow to their morale with all their shuttlers being wiped out in the men singles event.
In the quarter-finals in Tokyo yesterday, four-time champion Chong Wei lived dangerously before prevailing to beat Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia 21-15, 12-21, 21-17 in a 62-minute match to set-up an intriguing clash against Kenichi Tago of Japan.
Tago will be out for revenge, having lost tamely to Chong Wei in the final of last month’s Thomas Cup in New Delhi. Despite Tago’s defeat, Japan bounced back to nick the Thomas Cup title for the first time after edging Malaysia 3-2.
While two-time Olympic silver medallist Chong Wei was lucky to scrape through, it was bad news for China’s five-time world champion Lin Dan and 2013 All-England champion Chen Long.
Playing in his first Superseries tournament this season, Lin Dan went down 19-21, 21-13, 16-21 to a spirited Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark. It was Lin Dan’s second defeat to Jorgensen in six meetings.
Chen Long’s misery continued when he went down 18-21, 21-19, 15-21 to Hong Kong’s Hu Yun. In the Thomas Cup, the lanky Chinese also fared poorly by losing to Tago that eventually saw China suffering a 0-3 shocking defeat to Japan in the semi-finals.
National singles coach Tey Seu Bock is apprehensive of the semi-final clash between Chong Wei and Kenichi although the world No. 1 holds an impressive 16-1 record against the Japanese.
“Chong Wei is still struggling here. He is finding it a challenge to adapt to the slow shuttle and that irritates him. He tends to lose focus easily. Fortunately against Tommy, he kept on fighting,” said Seu Bock.
“All the top Chinese players are out but we know what Tago is capable of. He has home advantage, but Chong Wei will not take him lightly. Chong Wei is the only Malaysian left in the tournament and we hope that he will keep the flag flying,” he added.
The other Malaysians – Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong – failed to clear the last eight in the men’s doubles. They went down 16-21, 19-21 to reigning world champions Mohd Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia.