Lee Chong Wei ends Hu Yun's amazing run
Tournament favourite lifts Japan Open title for third straight year after clinical performance
A remarkable run for Hong Kong's Hu Yun in the Superseries Japan Open came to a halt on Sunday as he lost 2-0 (21-14, 21-12) to badminton's world number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
Hu, 32, reached the title match by chopping down the second and third seeds, but simply found the Malaysian too strong. It was the second time Hu, a former mainlander who first represented Hong Kong in 2008, had reached a Superseries final. He was beaten by China's Chen Long in the 2012 China Masters final.
The 31-year-old Malaysian, Lee, took only 35 minutes to stop Hu and lift the title for the third straight year. The victory also helped ease the pain of Malaysia's narrow defeat in the Thomas Cup.
In the women's final, China's Olympic champion and world number one Li Xuerui struggled in the first game, but regained her composure to beat Taiwan's Tai Tzu-ying 2-0 in 34 minutes.
"My opponent probably became desperate after dropping the hard-fought first game," Li said.
Playing in her first Japan Open, the 23-year-old Li scored her second victory in the 12-leg Superseries this year. She has taken the Malaysia Open, but was runner-up in three other events.
In the Thomas Cup final three weeks ago, Lee beat Kenichi Tago, but Malaysia allowed Japan to lift their first men's team championship by 3-2.
His badminton-crazy country had aimed for a first Thomas Cup victory in 22 years.
"I was depressed for two or three days after losing the close game," Lee said. "I could not have solid training as usual and I came here in very bad condition."
But Lee, who has won three of the top-flight Superseries events this year in Malaysia, England and India, said he tried to play his best as the Japan Open was supported by his major sponsor.
Playing with an unusually aggressive flair, he led the first game all the way with a cushion of up to eight points. At 20-14, eighth-seeded Hu returned a high lob into the net.
After leading 7-4 in the second game, Lee was tied by Hu four times. But after 12-all, Lee took nine straight points, smashing in a shot past a stunned Hu at match point.
"It was an unexpectedly easy match for a final," Lee said.
"I had not played aggressively in the Japan Open. But I studied Hu in video last night and decided it would be better if I play aggressively."
Hu, 32, said: "I feel happy because I had not expected such a result before the tournament. Lee Chong Wei was awesome with his speed and attack."