Lee scoops third title in Hong Kong
HONG KONG: Former world number one Lee Chong Wei cemented his strong comeback to the badminton circuit, taking his third consecutive Super Series title at the Hong Kong Open yesterday. The Malaysian beat Chinese world number ten Tian Houwei in straight sets 21-16, 21-15 to take the crown after a marathon final rally. “Today Tian played very well. He played a good defence because I just attacked,” said Lee.
Lee is on a winning streak after taking back-to-back titles in China and France in a strong return from an eightmonth doping ban earlier this year. His recent performances have silenced critics who questioned whether the 33year-old-a prominent fixture on the badminton circuit for nearly a decade — was past his peak. He has his sights firmly set on next year’s Olympics and on finally clinching a gold.
Lee has two silver medals-from London and Beijing-where on both occasions he was beaten to the top podium position by arch-rival Lin Dan. “Now I (will) just concentrate on qualifying for the Olympics, and I want to get (to) the top four in the world,” said Lee, who finally returned to the top ten at the end of October after dropping out of the rankings during his ban. He is now ranked sixth.
In the women’s competition, twotime world champion Carolina Marin of Spain took her sixth title of the year, beating Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in a tightly fought marathon three sets.
The epic 84-minute final-the longest match in the women’s competition this tournament-saw the world number one lose five match points before finally taking the crown 21-17, 18-21, 22-20. After steaming through the first set, Marin was seven points down in the second set. The Spaniard looked on course for victory early on in the third until her Japanese rival had a late surge.
“I think it was a tough match. She had a good comeback at the end of the game but I tried to just keep myself down and think positive things that I can beat her,” said Marin.
Marin has had a strong year, defending her World Championship title in August and shooting up the rankings from number eight to one. Okuhara took her first title at a Super Series tournament on home ground in September, beating compatriot Akane Yamaguchi in an all-Japanese final. The 20-year-old had previously beaten Marin, in last year’s semi-finals, but she then failed to take the title and fell to Taiwan’s Tai Tzuying.
“I could not win but I have confidence because I still managed to catch up (in the third set) with Marin, who is the world number one,” said Okuhara. —AFP