Lee scoops third ti­tle in Hong Kong

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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

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