PETALING JAYA: Lee Chong Wei is delighted to be back playing the Malaysian Open in Kuching.
But the 34-year-old world No. 1 wants his fans to know that it will not be easy for the “old man” to soar to a 12th Malaysian Open title in the Land of the Hornbills.
Chong Wei was the champion when Kuching last held the Malaysian Open in 2006.
“I’ll take it one match at a time. I was younger and stronger when I won the Malaysian Open in 2006. I’ll never forget that outing in Kuching,” said Chong Wei.
The Malaysian was on the brink of defeat, trailing 13-20 in the decider against Lin Dan of China.
But Chong Wei staged a dramatic comeback, winning 23-21 to the delight of the home fans. It was his third Malaysian Open crown and he went on to capture another eight wins for a record 11 crowns.
The title proved to be a turning point in Chong Wei’s career. A week later, he became the world No. 1 men’s singles shuttler for the very first time.
“Going back to Kuching brings back fond memories. I’m back here again after 11 years. Hopefully I can give the home fans another good showing,” he said.
“Everyone wants another Chong Wei-Lin Dan final clash. But I don’t even know whether either one of us can go through the early rounds. The pressure is different for us now.
“I’m expected to win for the 12th time. I want it too but I need to manage my own expectations and handle the pressure,” said Chong Wei, who faces Rajiv Ouseph of England in the first round at the Stadium Perpaduan in Petra Jaya tomorrow.
Chong Wei, however, is happy that he skipped last week’s Indian Open to rest his knee.
“I went for treatment and I’m much better now,” he said.
Chong Wei slipped and injured his knee in February during a training session. But he made a quick recovery and went on to win the All-England title for the fourth time.
“The younger players stole the show at the Indian Open. I’m sure they’ll be out for our scalps, but we’ll be ready,” he added.
Dane Viktor Axelsen, 23, won the Indian Open after beating Taiwan’s 27-year-old Chou Tien-chen in the final in New Delhi on Sunday. The losing semi-finalists were 19-year-old Anders Antonsen of Denmark and 22-year-old Angus Ng Ka Long of Hong Kong.
With second seed Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark pulling out yesterday, Chong Wei’s threat to a Malaysian party in Kuching are China’s Chen Long, Lin Dan and Shi Yuqi, Son Wan-ho of South Korea and Axelsen.