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Saturday November 24, 2012
By RAJES PAUL
KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei swept into the Hong Kong Open men’s singles semi-finals in emphatic fashion in Kowloon yesterday.
The 30-year-old Chong Wei proved yet again that he still has plenty of energy in his tank when he turned on the power to beat a gritty Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam 21-18, 21-19 in 34 minutes.
Tien Minh had the Malaysian under pressure towards the end of the second game but Chong Wei pressed on to score his ninth win in 10 meetings against the Vietnamese.
Chong Wei, who had his hands full over the last two weeks due to his marriage to Wong Mew Choo, will get a chance to show that he is physically fit to face another strong challenger when he takes on Japan’s Kenichi Tago today.
Kenichi ended Mohd Arif Abdul Latif’s run with a 21-12, 21-15 win in the other quarter-final in just 31 minutes.
It was the 23-year-old Arif’s first quarter-final appearance in the Super Series and his lack of experience clearly showed.
The other men’s singles semi-final should see China’s Chen Long overcoming Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto without too much fuss.
National singles chief coach Rashid Sidek is predicting a Chong Wei-Chen Long final.
“Chong Wei has good control of the game and I’m not worried about him at all. He knows how to come out of sticky situations, like how he did against Tien Minh,” said Rashid in a telephone interview.
On Arif, Rashid said: “He still lacks experience and finds it difficult to get out of tight situations. He was quite slow today and had no answer to Tago’s relentless attacks.”
In the men’s doubles, Malaysia’s hopes rest solely on the shoulders of Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong following the exit of Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong.
Thien How-Wee Kiong fell 27-25, 21-23, 13-21 to China’s Liu Xiaolong-Qiu Zihan.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong, who enjoyed a rest day following the withdrawal of Lee Yong-dae-Ko Sung-hyun of South Korea, take on Taiwan’s Lee Sheng-mu-Tsai Chia-hsin for a place in the final.
The other men’s doubles semi-final will be an all-China affair with four-time world champions and reigning Olympic Games gold medallists Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng taking on Xiaolong-Zihan.
In the mixed doubles, world No. 3 Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying had to dig deep into their reserves before prevailing 23-25, 21-16, 21-15 over South Koreans Yoo Yeon-seong-Jang Ye-na in the quarter-finals.
Today, the duo face a daunting task against China’s top seeds Xu Chen-Ma Jin.
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