Hong Kong is just like home to me, says five-time champion Lee Chong Wei
Malaysian ace wins his fifth Hong Kong Open title after defeating China’s Chen Long and avenging his defeat to the same player at last year’s Rio Olympic Games
Malaysian ace Lee Chong Wei says playing in Hong Kong is like “playing at home” as he rolled back the years to clinch his fifth men’s singles crown at the Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open on Sunday.
Lee loves playing in the city and he rode an emotional wave of support from the sell-out 6,000 crowd to defeat 2016 Rio Olympic Games medallist, Chen Long, of China, 21-14, 21-19 at the Coliseum.
Defying a seven-year age gap, the 35-year-old got one over the world No 4 to gain a measure of revenge against the Chinese, who beat Lee at last year’s Rio gold medal play-off. And the Malaysian former world No 1 vowed to return to the city, which has been a happy hunting ground for him.
“I’ll see you next year,” said Lee after sealing a record fifth Hong Kong title that puts him on level terms with long-time rival Lin Dan, of China, who also has five.
— Dato' Lee Chong Wei (@LeeChongWei) November 26, 2017
“There’s strong support from fans in Hong Kong even when I was not playing here last year and the year before. In fact, I always feel like I’m playing at home each time I am playing here. But I also know I am not young any more and my physical fitness is always a concern to many people. They keep asking me if I would compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I also wish I could but I don’t know if my body would allow me to do so. Right now, I just want to avoid injury and play my best in every match, just like the way I did in this final against Chen.”
Lee also said retirement was furthest from his mind and that he does not intend to step down since he was now hitting top form.
“I haven’t played a good tournament since August. Someone said I should retire because of my age. This really hurt me. I am happy I can finally make it in Hong Kong in the last superseries of the year. I have another hectic schedule next year.”
Chen was not too disappointed with his performance. The 28-year-old reached his second successive superseries final after clinching the China Open title last week.
“I should have taken the second game and extended the match to a third but unfortunately I made several unforced errors when the score was levelled at 19-all,” said the mainlander. “Nonetheless it was a good result for me and a good game for the fans.”
In women’s singles, world number one Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan continued her domination over Pusarla V Sindhu of India in the final, the first women’s player to successfully defend the Hong Kong title since Xie Xingfang of China achieved the feat ten years ago.
Tai, who had a disappointing China Open last week when she lost in the quarter-finals, made amends with a convincing 21-18, 21-18 victory over Sindhu.
Twelve months ago after defeating the same player in the Hong Kong final, the Taiwanese surged to the world number one ranking, the same position she has maintained the whole year. She also captured five superseries titles out of a total 12 tournaments entered.
“I don’t think I can maintain the same result next year. It’s very difficult,” said the champion. “Indeed, I am very happy to have kept a consistent performance this year and perhaps this is why I have done so well on the world tour. Before I always made silly mistakes that sent me out of tournaments in the early stages and I hope to minimise these unstable performance as much as possible.”
The 23-year-old from Kaohsiung did not want to predict how long she might stay on the top of her game, saying she’s happy to be stay there for more than “one single week” and “one year has already been too much”.
“I always try not to think too much about my world ranking as you need to win a lot of tournaments to keep it,” said Tai. “I prefer to do well in each game and then each tournament and see how far I can go,” she said. “In 2018 we will have the Asian Games and the World Championships which will be my prime targets.”
In the mixed doubles, Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong of China continued their winning streak as they beat Mathias Christiansen and Christinna Pedsersen of Denmark 21-15, 21-13 in the final. It was their second superseries title in a row after winning at home last week. They also won the Macau Open earlier this month
The mainlanders also prevailed in the women’s doubles following Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan’s victory over Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia. The world number one pair won after three games 14-21, 21-16, 21-16.
There was also no surprise in the men’s doubles with world number one pair, Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo of Indonesia, winning their second superseries title in a row for beating Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding of Denmark 21-12, 21-18 in the final. The Indonesian pair also won last week’s China Open.