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Double joy for Malaysia


KUCHING:Lee Chong Wei pulled off an amazing comeback to stun world number one Lin Dan of China to win his third consecutive Malaysian Open men's singles title at the Perpaduan Stadium here yesterday. 

Despite being on the verge of defeat at 13-20 in the rubber game, the 24-year-old Chong Wei clawed his way back to win 21-18, 18-21, 23-21 in a pulsating 70-minute encounter. 

HAIL THE CHAMP: Chong Wei acknowledges the crowd's applause after winning the men's singles title Sunday.

After pulling off the near impossible task, Chong Wei fell to the ground and punched his fists up in the air as thousands of fans danced, applauded and chanted his name. 

A dejected Lin Dan threw his racquet and walked out with his head hung low even without shaking hands with Chong Wei.  

Later during the victory ceremony, the Chinese was booed for throwing the mock cheque and the Sarawakian warrior ceremonial hat. 

Chong Wei has now become only the second Malaysian after Rashid Sidek (1990-1993) to notch a hat-trick at the Malaysian Open. He will now be out to emulate Wong Peng Soon's feat of winning five titles in a row from 1949-1953. 

Besides Chong Wei's superb win yesterday, Malaysia also bagged the men's doubles crown through Chan Chong Ming-Koo Kien Keat. 

The duo dashed the hopes of Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Lin Woon Fui of a maiden title with a 14-21, 21-11, 21-17 win in 43 minutes. 

After all the hype about his lack of fire and fitness, Chong Wei certainly saved his best for last when he got off to a flying start in the first game. 

Keeping his shots low and concentrating more on the net in the first game, Chong Wei hardly gave Lin Dan a chance to use his sharp and stinging smashes en route to his 21-18 win. 

In the second game, the All-England champion Lin Dan found his way back into the game and despite a late comeback from the Malaysian, the Chinese held firm for a 21-18 win. 

All hope seemed lost for Chong Wei when his opponent bulldozed his way to a comfortable 20-13 lead in the rubber game. Then, the unbelievable happened. 

“I don't believe this. I was trailing 13-20 and my heart sank. But I did not give up,” said Chong Wei. 

“I had to make sure that I do not make any mistakes. At 18-21, I knew Lin Dan was rattled. I grew more confident and here I am as the third time Malaysian Open champion. This is such an awesome feeling. 

“I thought my first win over Lin Dan was the greatest moment. But this win today certainly tops that,” said an ecstatic Chong Wei. 

Yesterday's win was only Chong Wei's second against the Chinese in five meetings.  

He had beaten Lin Dan for the first time at the last year's Malaysian Open final in Kuala Lumpur but was the loser at the 2004 Thomas Cup qualifying round, 2005 Hong Kong Open and this year's All-England. 

Despite Lin Dan's disappointment, China went home with three titles through Zhang Ning (women's singles), Gao Ling-Huang Sui (women's doubles) and Zhang Jun-Gao Ling (mixed doubles).  

   

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