PETALING JAYA: National shuttler Lee Chong Wei missed out on a back-to-back triumph but can still afford a smile.
The 35-year-old national badminton ace is feeling upbeat despite losing to Japan’s Kento Momota in the semi-finals of the Indonesian Open on Saturday — a week after defeating the latter to claim his record 12th Malaysian Open crown.
The defeat ended Chong Wei’s hopes of becoming the most successful men’s singles shuttler in the tournament history by winning his seventh title.
Chong Wei is tied with Indonesian greats Ardy Wiranata and Taufik Hidayat since the tournament’s inception in 1982.
But the weary Chong Wei believes he has earned himself two morale-boosting results to prepare him for his first world title in Nanjing from July 30-Aug 5 and first Asian Games gold medal in Jakarta from Aug 18-Sept 2.
“I’m quite happy with my performance in two very competitive tournaments,” said the three-time Olympic silver medallist.
“Winning my 12th Malaysian Open title and making it to the semi-finals in Indonesia, it’s really not easy and I could not have asked for more considering my age.
“What matters more is the World Championships and the Asian Games.
“All I want to do now is to take a break for few days before returning to training fresh to prepare well for the next two tournaments.”
National men’s singles coach Hendrawan admitted Chong Wei has lost to a fitter player in Momota, who’s 12 years younger.
“Chong Wei has given his all in the match, that’s the maximum he could stretch. He tried to give Momota a tough fight right until the last point, but it was obvious the boy had the edge in terms of power, speed and fitness and all of that made the difference,” explained Hendrawan.
“So, I’m not concerned with Chong Wei’s defeat to Momota as their games were evenly matched.
“Once he’s back from his break, we (the coaches) will get him ready for World Championships and hopefully he’ll make amends in Nanjing.”