Malaysian former world no.1 Lee Chong Wei and China’s Wang Yihan have won the men and women’s singles titles at the 2016 Dong Feng Citroen Badminton Asia Championships, which concluded in China on Sunday. In the final, both of them defeated the top tournament’s top seeded players. While Lee’s win over reigning world no.1 Chen Long is a repeat performance of the 2016 Malaysian Open, where he had beaten the Chinese three weeks ago; Yihan’s victory over compatriot and top seed Li Xuerui was a continuation of her current good form. In the semifinal on Saturday, Yihan had easily overpowered India’s Saina Nehwal. The titles in all doubles categories were expectedly won by the tournament’s top-seeded pairs.
After easily beating double Olympic gold medal winner Lin Dan in the semifinal, Malaysian ace Lee Chong Wei made a signature statement by his triumph over top seed and world no.1 Chen Long of China in the final. However, unlike the semifinal, the victory over Chen Long wasn’t so easy for Lee. The 33-year old Malaysian had to play three games lasting an hour and 22 minutes, before he could dispose of the world’s no.1 badminton player. It is Lee’s third title of the 2016 season after he captured the Malaysian Masters in January and Malaysia Open three weeks ago. It was also the 63rd career title for the celebrated Malaysian. It is a huge credit for Lee to have beaten two of the biggest players in the game in their homeland over the last two days. Apart from being counted as a major achievement, Lee also clearly announced his intention ahead of the upcoming Rio Olympic Games. It is also noteworthy that Lee had similarly beaten the Chinese duo in their backyard en route to winning the China Open last November.
On Sunday, Lee looked composed during the entire match. He won the first game after Chen Long had begun well. Lee blunted Chen’s attack by his fluid court movements and reached the right spots at the right time. However, Chen reversed the positions in the second game, which he played with better control and more authority. After the two squared off the game scores, Lee returned to playing a dream third game and made Chen run all over the court with deftly placed shots. It was an immaculate display of poise, grace, speed and judicious shot control that won the day for Lee as he finished winner at 21-17, 15-21, 21-13 in the 82-minute thriller.
Wang Yihan’s title victory over compatriot Li Xuerui was her first major title in a long time. Yihan’s confidence got a boost after her semifinal win over India’s Saina Nehwal. However, the final failed to rise to the expectations as both players made plenty of unforced errors in the first two games. Yihan took the first but looked detached in the second as Li raised her game and forced the decider. Only the third game brought the proceedings alive. Yihan opened an early lead in the decider and kept the momentum going. Li found it difficult to catch up with Yihan, who finished a 21-14, 13-21, 21-16 winner. Going back to 2010, Yihan and Xuerui have played 18 matches against each other and Yihan leads 10-8 head to head.
After their rousing efforts over two days, there were big expectations from Japan’s Kurumi Yonao and Naoko Fukuman as they took on compatriots and top seeds Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi in the women’s doubles final. But Matsutomo/Takahashi proved too merciless for Yonao/Fukuman right from the start. Yonao/Fukuman had only a day to recover from the 161 minute court grind, they had undergone on Saturday. But the top seeds were businesslike in their 21-13, 21-15 victory against Yonao/Fukuman.
The mixed doubles final was won by top seeds Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei of China. Zhang/Zhao lost the first game but came back strongly in the next two to defeat Indonesia’s second seeds Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir 16-21, 21-9, 21-17 in 61 minutes. The men’s doubles final was also won by tournament’s top seeds and world no.1 Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong of Korea. After Lee/Yoo easily won the first game against China’s Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen, the Chinese duo put up a monumental resistance in the second stretching the game before Lee/Yoo finished winners at 21-14, 28-26 in 58 minutes.
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