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Monday January 14, 2013

Chong Wei gets off to a roaring start by clinching Korean Open title

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei got off to a dream and rewarding start to the new badminton season yesterday.

The 30-year-old Malaysian turned on the power to show that he was back in business with a splendid 21-12, 21-15 win over Du Pengyu of China to win the men’s singles title at the Korean Open Super Series Premier in Seoul.

It was Chong Wei’s third Korean Open title but probably the sweetest one. It made up for his disappointment at the BWF’s World Super Series Finals in Shenzhen three weeks ago when he lost in a rubber game to Pengyu before withdrawing from the tournament with a thigh injury.

Yesterday, though, a refreshed Chong Wei showed no signs of injuries or lethargy as he slammed down powerful smashes, showed precision in his tight netplays, entertained the crowd with his delayed drop shots and oozed confidence to prevent the 24-year-old Pengyu from winning his first career title.

The only moment of anxiety was probably during the start of the second game when Pengyu scored four consecutive points to level the score at 8-8. Chong Wei, however, poured cold water on Pengyu’s hot run with a powerful smash to regain the lead. After that, it was Chong Wei back in command all the way to the finish line.

The win in badminton’s richest tournament was worth a cool US$75,000 (RM227,000) to Chong Wei. He was thrilled with his roaring start.

“I am back,” said an overjoyed Chong Wei in a telephone interview.

“It is great to start the year on a bright note. I was tired towards the end of last year and withdrew from the Super Series Finals because of the thigh injury. I have had a good rest and had quality time in training. And today, I was able to avenge my defeat to Pengyu,” he added.

Chong Wei will now shift his focus to the Maybank Malaysian Open Super Series starting at the Putra Stadium on Wednesday.

“Now, I want to win another Malaysian Open title. It is always special to play at home and I will do my best to win it for my home fans.

“The weather is extremely cold in Seoul. When I get back home tomorrow (today), it will be warm and sunny. I will have to make quick adjustments,” said Chong Wei.

In the absence of many top stars from China, the Malaysian has a golden chance to be most successful player in the history of the Malaysian Open. Last year, he equalled the record held by the late Wong Peng Soon when he won his eighth home title.

“We are players from different era and there should be no comparisons. History aside, all I want to do is to focus on my game and go for the title,” said Chong Wei, winner from 2004-2006 and 2008-2012.

National singles coach Tey Seu Bock was pleased as punch with Chong Wei’s early success to the season.

“It was all about playing the right kind of game against Pengyu. After the defeat in Shenzhen, we studied Pengyu’s game. Today, Chong Wei broke Pengyu’s resolve and gave him no room to play his game,” said Seu Bock.

“Three weeks ago, Chong Wei looked jaded and not himself at the Super Series Finals in Shenzhen. Today, he was back to his usual confident self and I foresee a great year ahead for him,” added Seu Bock.

Meanwhile, the season-opener was not a good one for China, as their top women’s singles star Wang Shixian went down 12-21, 20-22 to South Korean Sung Ju-hyun in the final.

China only managed to take home two titles through Wang Xiaoli-Yu Yang (women’s doubles) and Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei (mixed doubles).

How Chong Wei won
First round: bt Wang Zhengming (Chn) 17-21, 21-14, 21-16.
Second round: bt Marc Zwiebler (Ger) 21-11, 21-19.
Quarter-finals: bt Hu Yun (Hkg) 21-15, 21-17.
Semi-finals: bt Wong Wing Ki (Hkg) 21-11, 21-18.
Final: bt Du Pengyu (Chn) 21-12, 21-15.

Results
Men’s singles: Lee Chong Wei (Mas) bt Du Pengyu (Chn) 21-12, 21-15.
Men’s doubles: Ko Sung-hyun-Lee Yong-dae (Kor) bt Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen (Den) 19-21, 21-13, 21-10.
Women’s singles: Sung Ji-hyun (Kor) bt Wang Shixian (Chn) 21-12, 22-20.
Women’s doubles: Wang Xiaoli-Yu Yang (Chn) bt Ma Jin-Tang Jinhua (Chn) 21-17, 21-13.
Mixed doubles: Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei (Chn) bt Xu Chen-Ma Jin (Chn) 13-21, 21-16, 21-13.

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