AFTER the migraine attack, no one gave Peter Gade-Christensen a ghost of a chance to win the Malaysian Open title but the Dane rose to the occasion yesterday to play one of the best matches of his career to emerge as the champion for the second time.
Yesterday, the 30-year-old Gade-Christensen put up a super show to beat China's Bao Chunlai 21-15, 17-21, 21-14 in a 53-minute men's singles final to pocket the winner's purse of US$16,000 (RM56,000).
Gade-Christensen got off to a good start, winning the first game but the lanky Chunlai manged to force a rubber game. If the fans had thought that the Dane had run out of steam in the early part of the decider, they were certainly wrong.
He came charging back with superb attacking play to reel in the win and the crowd certainly enjoyed his performance.
Gade-Christensen rolled over and jumped for joy after chalking up a win he would not dare to dream of when he was lying on the hospital bed after flying in ill just seven days ago.
“It is just fantastic to win here – in Malaysia, in Cheras. This is a very special win for. I would have never believed this a few days ago,” said the 1998 champion.
“I improved in every match and today I peaked against a 100% fresh Bao (who received a walkover from compatriot Chen Hong in the semi-finals).
“I played cleverly in the third game and that was crucial. This was the first leg of (inaugural) Super Series and it is one of the biggest achievements for me and I will remember it forever.”
He said that coach Thomas Stuer Lauridsen and the Danish team had been very supportive.
“My coach and the physiotherapist had been there with me for 24 hours to help me recover and get ready for the tournament,” said Gade-Christensen.
“I had thought that playing in one or two matches here would be a good workout for the next tournament (in South Korea) but here I am with a title in my hand.”
The Dane said that he hoped to ride on his win to achieve greater things this year.
“If I can improve on my game to a few more per cents, I am confident I will be there challenging the other top players – at the World Championships this year and in the Beijing Olympics next year. Winning here has given me that confidence – especially at my age now.
“The world meet will be in Malaysia again. I played at the venue (Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil) during the 2000 Thomas Cup Finals and I know it very well. I look forward to playing there again.”
On his chances in the Korean Open, which starts on Tuesday in Seoul, he said: “For now, I am not thinking about it. I am going to have a good dinner with Thomas, my teammates and my good friend, Wong Choong Hann.”
Meanwhile, China made up for Chunlai's disappointment by winning three other titles yesterday. Zhu Lin won the women's singles title, Gao Ling-Zheng Bo emerged as the mixed doubles champion; and the women's doubles title went to Gao Ling-Huang Sui.