It is going to be a mouth-watering final in the men’s singles of the Malaysian Open Sunday with world number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia taking on his arch nemesis, Lin Dan of China.
Chong Wei, who is the top seed, is gunning for his 12th Malaysian Open title while sixth seeded Lin Dan his first.
In his semifinal tie before 4,000 fans at the Stadium Perpaduan Petra Jaya in Kuching Saturday, Chong Wei did not have much problems against his opponent, Vincent Wong Wing Ki of Hong Kong, winning in 21-12, 21-9 in 40 minutes.
The clash in the final will be all the more memorable because in 2006, Chong Wei dashed Lin Dan’s hopes of clinching the title at the same venue in an epic battle.
Chong Wei was down 13-20 in the rubber set but overcame the odds to beat the Chinese badminton superstar 23-21. He had won the first set 21-18 but lost the second 18-21.
For the record, the last time the 34-year-old player met Lin Dan was at the semi-finals of the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil which saw the number one Malaysian player winning in a thrilling three-setter.
However, the record of meetings between the two sensational world badminton players is in Lin Dan’s favour with the China player having won 24 of their 35 encounters.
Chong Wei said the clash with Lin Dan would be a repeat of the 2006 final.
“It is a much awaited match and I promise to exhibit my best tomorrow for all the fans here,” he told reporters after the match.
He also said Lin Dan performed well in the semi-finals.
“I hope I can perform my best tomorrow and I also hope the supporters will come en masse to support me,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the women’s doubles, unseeded Japanese pair Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota scored an upset when they beat compatriots Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi, who are the world number one currently.
Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota, who are ranked 18th in the world, won in straight sets of 21-18, 21-19 in 49 minutes.
The Japanese pair will face the China pair of Huang Yaqiong-Tang Jinhua.
In the men’s doubles, unseeded Huang Yaqiong-Tang Jinhua also shocked the championship’s fifth-seeded South Korean pair of Chang Ye Na-Lee So Hee in three sets to win 22-20, 18-21, 21-16.
The women’s singles saw first seed, Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan forced into the rubber set before confirming a slot in the final by beating fourth seeded player from South Korea, Sung Ji Hyun 20-22, 21-13, 21-12.
The women’s singles final is expected to be stiff as Tai Tzu Ying will be facing second seed Carolina Marin who ousted Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in straight sets of 23-21, 21-19.
In the men’s doubles, Chinese pair Fu Haifeng-Zheng Siwei also managed to pill of an upset when they beat compatriots and the championship’s third seeds Chai Biao-Hong Wei.
But the victory obtained by Fu Haifeng-Zheng Siwei was not easy, they were stretched to three sets before beating Chai Biao-Hong Wei, third in the world ranking, 17-21, 21-14, 21-19 in 50 minutes.
The China pair will meet the Indonesian pair of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo who beat Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda of Japan 21-16, 21-13. –Bernama