The hype, hoop-la and glamour of the Australian Open, together with several international cricket fixtures took the sheen off some other major sporting events around the world. The news about the great feats of Malaysian badminton superstar Lee Chong Wei and the finals of the Maybank sponsored Malaysian Open BWF Super Series Premier was literally engulfed, as Tennis and Cricket took Centre stage in the Asia Pacific region. In the most remarkable achievement of the final matches, played on Sunday January 19, 2014, the amazing Malaysian, Datuk Lee Chong Wei, scored his 10th victory in the history of the tournament. Except in 2007, when he lost in the quarterfinals to China’s Bao Chunlai, Chong Wei has won every final since 2004.
In the men’s final, world no. 1 player, Chong Wei defeated no. 4 seed Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia 21-19, 21-9 on January 19, 2014. The year’s first premier BWF super-series event was held at the picturesque Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil, a suburban city near Kualalumpur. In the last week’s Korea Open, the 31-year old Chong Wei had lost in the final to Chen Long of China and therefore, the victory at home was a huge solace. This was the seventh straight time that Chong Wei has won the tournament since 2008.
Despite the final result, Chong Wei had a tense start against Sugiarto, who relentlessly matched Chong Wei, shot for shot and dictated the proceeding all through the first game. Sugiarto led in the first game until the score reached 19-19. At this point Chong Wei went in front, 20-19 and quickly sealed the game. Once the first game was won, Chong Wei lived up to the expectations of his ever burgeoning fan following, and took the second set easily at 21-9. Chong Wei earned $ 37,500 winner’s prize, though at the end of the match, he made another reference about his retirement plans by the end of 2014.
In a post-match talk with the media, Chong Wei said he would keep his focus on this year’s Asian Games followed by Commonwealth Games. He expressed doubts about participating in the Rio Olympics in 2016. Lee Chong Wei began his badminton career in 2002 and by 2004; he was already making waves in international badminton circuits. He has represented Malaysia in three Olympics, beginning with the Athens Games in 2004. Though he couldn’t progress beyond the second round at Athens, he won silver medals at both Beijing and London Olympics. Chong Wei is also the winner of 4 Commonwealth Games Gold medals, in singles and mixed team categories, at Delhi and Melbourne.
For Malaysian fans, Sunday brought more cheers, as their men’s doubles pair of Goh V Shem and Lim Khim Wah, both 24, beat the Chinese men Chai Biao and Hong Wei 21-19, 21-18 in 45 minutes. The victory by Malaysian men was awaited since 2010. In the last three years, the men’s doubles were won by the Chinese in 2011, Chinese Teipei in 2012 and Indonesia in 2013.
In other results, women’s Olympic Gold Medalist, Li Xuerui of China won the women’s single title, beating compatriot Wang Shixian, who briefly challenged Li but otherwise looked sluggish in the final. Wang lost 16-21, 17-21. The women’s doubles final was won by the Chinese pair of Bao Yixin and Tang Jinhua in a tough match, which stretched the competitors all the way. But at the end, the Chinese women prevailed over the Japanese duo of Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi 21-19, 14-21, 21-13. The mixed doubles final was also won by the Chinese, when the pair of Xu Chen and Ma Jin beat Denmark’s defending champions Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen 21-11, 17-21, 21-13.
The next tournament of the BWF World Super-series will be the Yonex All England Open and it will be played during March 4-9, 2014 at Birmingham.
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