Many badminton stars, who participated in India’s 2016 Premier Badminton League; began the new season by playing in this year’s Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold Tournament. Of them, Lee Chong Wei and PV Sindhu have made a good start to 2016 by winning the titles in men and women’s singles categories. While Lee defeated fellow Malaysian Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin in the final, Sindhu bagged the title by beating Scotland’s Kristy Gilmour. Besides men’s singles, Malaysians had also reached the finals of the mixed and men’s doubles but they lost both summit games. While mixed doubles was won by China, Indonesia took the men’s doubles crown. In women’s doubles, Japan proved superior to China in the title game.
Lee Chong Wei, who finished the 2015 season by climbing to no.5 in the BWF rankings; had one regret last year; his long absence from the game prevented him from qualifying in the year-ending BWF World Super-series Finals at Dubai. But knowing the cause, he took the eventuality in his stride and felt confident of making further improvement. This is the Olympic year and Lee must already be eyeing the coveted gold medal after losing to Lin Dan in 2008 and 2012.
In the year’s first major BWF event, which concluded last Sunday at the Malaysian city of Penang, Lee reached the final and played against his compatriot Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin. On Saturday, Iskandar had a marathon outing in the semifinal against India’s Kidambi Sriknath. The first game was decided after 52 games and Iskandar entered the final by edging out Srikanth 27-25, 21-9 in 48 minutes. On his part, Lee defeated the third seeded Indonesian Tommy Sugiarto 21-19, 21-15. In the final, 24-year old Iskandar gave a tough fight to the Malaysian superstar in the first game by catching him off guard on several occasions. Iskandar also came up with some powerful smashes, excellent net-play and smart retrieval. But the experienced Lee had the final say in winning the 42-minute final 21-18, 21-11.
Among women, PV Sindhu had a great tournament at Penang after her flawless performance in the 2016 PBL, where she won all her matches, playing for the Chennai Smashers. She reached the 2016 Malaysia Master final after defeating Korea’s Sung Ji-Hyun 21-19, 12-21, 21-10. In the final, Sindhu played against Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour, who had beaten Japan’s Yui Hashimoto 12-21, 21-18, 21-8 in her semifinal match. Sindhu dominated the title clash against the Scot and never allowed her opponent to dictate terms at any time. It was the Indian’s second meeting with Gilmour, who had defeated Sindhu in the 2013 French Open. On Sunday, Sindhu took her revenge and finished the proceedings in 32 minutes with a 21-15, 21-9 victory. It is the second time that Sindhu has clinched the Malaysian Masters. She had also won the tournament in 2013 as a 17-year old. In addition, it was Sindhu’s fifth Grand Prix Gold title.
Indonesia claimed the men’s doubles when the pair of Gideon Markus Fernaldi/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo defeated Malaysia’s Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong 18-21, 21-13, 21-18. Women’s doubles was won by the strong Japanese combo of Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi, who beat China’s Tang Yuanting/Yu Yang 21-18, 22-20 while China won the mixed doubles with the pair of Zheng Siwei/Li Yinhui beating Malaysia’s Tan Kian Meng/Lai Pei Jing 21-14. 21-19.